However, missed opportunities and a far superior Notre Dame team quickly faded those aspirations.
Notre Dame scored on their first drive to go up 7-0. To their credit, Tennessee State responded with a scoring drive that ended in a field goal to make the score 7-3. TSU forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up the Tigers’ offense at the Irish 12-yard line.
The ND defense held firm, forcing a 29-yard field goal attempt that was blocked. Notre Dame added three more scores to extend their lead to 28-3.
“I was like, ‘Ok, this is really happening,'” George said after the game. “We moved the ball to the 13-yard line, we get a turnover, we preach that. We’ve got to learn how to punch it in. It felt really good because our guys didn’t come in wide-eyed. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle, and we knew when we had our opportunities to strike, we had to. We just didn’t execute in those moments.”
The kicking game woes bite TSU as James Lowery missed a 35-yard field goal. The Irish would capitalize on the miscue, needing just 38 seconds to travel 80 yards, scoring on Hartman’s second touchdown of the half, a 4-yard toss to Holden Staes, and the rout was on at 35-3 heading into the half.
Hartman sat out the entire second half, and the Irish tacked on 21 more points to complete the demolition at 56-3. The Irish racked up 557 yards of total offense while surrendering just 156 to the Tigers.
The Tigers could only generate 2.7 yards per play, while the Irish churned out 8.8 yards. Tennessee State signal callers combined to complete just eight of their 22 pass attempts, with starting quarterback Deveon Bryant completing 5 of 12 passes and Draylen Ellis just three of his ten attempts.
“We came out and showed the culture that we’re trying to build here, Bryant said. “On that opening drive, we were executing our plays to the fullest of our ability. We were just out there having fun.”
Tennessee State will look to bounce back next week against Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the Southern Heritage Classic.
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