It wasn’t quite a flawless performance from Notre Dame head coach Charles Fant’s squad on Thursday night at Boyd-Buchanan, but it was pretty close.
The Fighting Irish defense delivered a dominating performance in the lopsided win, holding the Buccaneers to just 138 yards of total offense, and more importantly, zero points.
“Defense is what we do,” said Fant. “It’s what we’ve been great at.”
The offense, still without its starting quarterback — sophomore Alex Darras — wasn’t bad either. Led by junior running back Auston Banks’ 296-yard effort, the Fighting Irish (3-1) piled up 486 yards of total offense in the 26-0 win.
“I feel fantastic right now,” said Banks. “This is one of the biggest games I’ve played in high school. I couldn’t have done it without my offensive line. I’m just thanking the man above.”
Notre Dame (3-1), which finished with 486 yards of total offense compared for Boyd’s 138, struck first early in the second quarter as quarterback Clay Heltzel snuck into the end zone from seven yards out, and the Fighting Irish increased their lead to 12-0 on Heltzel’s 7-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Kareem Orr with four minutes left in the first half.
Heltzel, normally a fullback and linebacker, completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 108 yards
“I’ll tell you what, the way Clay has handled himself has been unbelievable,” Fant said. “There were a couple of plays where he didn’t make a throw or he took a sack because he knew he had a lead. He managed the game. Even the interception he threw was a broken route — he threw it where the break was supposed to be.”
Added Banks, “I miss Alex. I walk through the hallway every day and shake his hand. I miss him, but we’ve got Clay Heltzel stepping up big time for him. We changed up our offense a little bit because we don’t have [Darras], and it’s worked.”
The Irish added two more second-half scores. Banks barreled his way in from five yards out midway through the third quarter, and the 5-foot-8, 170-pounder delivered the dagger with his 46-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left to play.
And while Notre Dame’s offense worked like clockwork, moving the chains throughout the game, Boyd-Buchanan’s was almost non-existent. The undersized Buccaneers (1-3), who registered just seven first-downs, were manhandled at the line of scrimmage, and virtually all of the team’s offense came from the arm of junior quarterback Jim Cardwell.
Boyd’s running game certainly wasn’t working.
Running back Austin Jackson finished with a team-high with 13 yards on seven carries, while the Buccaneers’ other top two rushers — Cardwell and senior running back Cameron Pope — both finished in the negatives.
“They’ve got a good football team,” Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds said. “They’ve got a good football team. We played hard, they played hard and they’ve got a good football team. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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