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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Key moments from Notre Dame's 41-17 win over Central Michigan

Notre Dame moved to 4-0 Saturday with a 41-17 win over Central Michigan. The Irish struggled to find consistency but eventually pulled away with a strong second half.

Here’s how it happened.

1. Irish offense starts strong

On the opening drive for the Irish, junior running back Audric Estime got things rolling with an eight-yard run, helped out by a well-placed block from expected first-round NFL draft pick, left tackle Joe Alt. Three plays later quarterback Sam Hartman hit sophomore receiver Tobias Merriweather for a 75-yard touchdown, giving Notre Dame an early lead. Hartman had several open options on the play, with the defense struggling to keep up with the speed of the Irish receiving core. The Irish sent the Chippewas' defense back to the bench after barely two minutes on the field. 

2. Central Michigan answers

The Chippewas' offense responded by putting together a nice drive, led by quarterback Jase Bauer (expected starter Bert Emanuel Jr. did not take the field), that resulted in the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by the Irish this season. Aiding the drive was a roughing the passer call on defensive lineman Joshua Burnham that shifted momentum in Central Michigan’s favor. The offensive line opened up huge holes down the middle for Bauer and junior running back Myles Bailey, eventually allowing Bailey to spin into the end zone to tie up the score.  

3. Estime powers Irish to permanent lead

Upon getting the ball back, the Irish offense put together a 75-yard drive for their second score of the game. There was a bit of officiating confusion right before Estime scored the Irish's second touchdown of the game on fourth and one.

Estime ran the ball on the previous play for what was originally called a first down. The call was reviewed, and referee Jerry Magallanes announced to a cheerful Notre Dame stadium that the spot was upheld. However, play didn’t resume without a clear explanation of why. Eventually, Magallanes came back to announce that Estime was indeed short of the line to gain by half a yard.

The call ended up lacking importance, as Hartman handed the ball off to Estime again, who ran for 17 yards and a Notre Dame touchdown, giving the Irish the lead for good.

4. Irish make excellent second-half opening statement

Central Michigan pushed back within one score when Bauer scored from the one-yard line on third-and-goal right before halftime. It led to a productive twenty minutes for the Irish, who received the second-half kickoff and drove down for their fourth touchdown of the game. The drive included a 21-yard run by Estime and a 39-yard pass down the middle to junior wide receiver Jayden Thomas. Three plays later, Hartman capped the drive off with a one-yard rushing score of his own to put Notre Dame up 28-14. 

The Irish dominated in the second half, outscoring the Chippewas 20-3 en route to a final score of 41-17. Next up for the Irish is the much-anticipated match-up against Ohio State on Saturday. However excited  Irish fans are, as defensive tackle Rylie Mills mentioned, time traveling to kickoff remains out of reach.