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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Key moments from Notre Dame's 33-20 loss against Louisville

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Graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman is hurried by Louisville defenders during Notre Dame's 33-20 loss Saturday.
After a game that left fans with few words and an abundance of emotions, here are some key moments from Notre Dame's loss against the Louisville Cardinals.

Early sacks set back offensive execution

Notre Dame’s first drive was abruptly cut short by an interception, reversing any gains had by the dynamic duo of graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman and junior tight end Mitchell Evans. Evans, who wound up being Notre Dame’s leading receiver on the night with 71 yards, had just given the Irish a first down on the preceding play. The next time Notre Dame's offense took the field, the Cardinals had scored and the team already had to play catch-up. After overshooting a pass to freshman wide receiver Rico Flores Jr., Hartman was sacked for a loss of seven, ending the drive and squandering a chance to respond by forcing a punt.

The Irish's next drive ended similarly. To start off the second quarter, Hartman was taken down again, this time for a loss of nine. That gave Louisville a cushion of both points and potential success as the momentum in the stadium heavily shifted towards the Cardinals.

Receiver Jordan Faison proves unexpected playmaker

Notre Dame made steady work of their next drive, adjusting to the shutdown of their run game with quick, effective passes to junior Jayden Thomas, sophomore Holden Staes and senior Chris Tyree. It was a one-two scenario as they paired those gains with short runs by junior Audric Estimé and sophomore Jadarian Price, creating a solid combination that got them into Cardinals territory. However, early on in the drive, Flores Jr. went down, halting the possession as the future of one of their most effective receivers came into question.

Irish fans began smiling again when Notre Dame tied the score at 7-7. Instead of the likes of Estimé or Evans finding the end zone, Hartman’s 36-yard pass struck gold with freshman wide receiver Jordan Faison. Faison notched both his first collegiate reception and the first touchdown of his career on Saturday, ending the night with a combined 48 yards.

Irish gain momentum in the third quarter, but fall short in the fourth

Whatever was said in Freeman’s halftime speech seemed to do its job at first, as the Irish defense came out swinging. On the first play of the half, graduate student cornerback Cam Hart forced and recovered a fumble, ending Louisville’s opening drive in seven seconds. The offense followed this with a 53-yard field goal by graduate student kicker Spencer Shrader to give the Irish a 10-7 lead, their first of the night.

However, Louisville responded with enough gusto to deflate a significant portion of the team’s spirit. On their third drive of the half, the Cardinals notched another touchdown in under a minute as Jawhar Jordan wove through a handful of Notre Dame defenders on his way to the end zone. Following a detrimental 15-yard facemask penalty against junior offensive lineman Blake Fisher, the Irish decreased the deficit to 13-17 with another successful Shrader field goal attempt from 54 yards. But the Cardinals' scoring drive still proved to be the first nail in the coffin.

Missed fourth-quarter opportunities end chances at a comeback

Notre Dame was still in position to regain the lead at the start of the fourth, but a series of events only set the Irish further behind. Following another Cardinal touchdown that was aided by another facemask call, this time on graduate student linebacker Marist Liufau, several incomplete passes ended any chance of an Irish scoring drive. Notre Dame's next opportunity to add points to the board was a single-play drive that was stunted by another Hartman interception.

Three Cardinal field goals later, things were looking bleak for Notre Dame. Some instrumental plays from Hartman in rapid succession with looks to Thomas and Price got the Irish in scoring position. It proved enough to lead the Irish to the end zone a final time (20-33) when Evans took home a six-yard pass. Shrader followed this with an onside kick, renewing Notre Dame's possession. However, their final stand with 1:35 left to play ended in yet another interception and the Irish had to walk away from Louisville empty-handed.

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