Notre Dame errs but wins ‘home’ game at Fenway Park
Boston — Notre Dame made itself at home in Boston College territory.
Taking over Fenway Park for a far-flung home game, the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish spent most of it on the BC side of the field, overcoming five turnovers to beat the Eagles, 19-16, on Saturday night.
Three of the turnovers were inside the BC 5.
“It’s like leaving runners in scoring position,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said in an interview room ringed by Red Sox pennants. “There’s only so many times you can do that. You can’t go down there and not come away with points.”
The Irish (10-1, No. 4 College Football Playoff) have won six in a row since a two-point loss to top-ranked Clemson. They will finish their season at No. 15 Stanford (No. 11 CFP) on Saturday.
“Got one more,” Kelly said. “Got to win it.”
DeShone Kizer completed 20 of 38 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Chris Brown caught six passes for 104 yards, and Amir Carlisle had seven catches for 97 yards. C.J. Prosise ran eight times for 54 yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone before leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter.
BC quarterback Jeff Smith ran for 100 yards, breaking free for an 80-yard run to make it 19-9 with about 10 minutes to play. He also hit Charlie Callinan from 3 yards out to make it 19-16 with 54 seconds left.
The Eagles (3-8) attempted an onside kick, but Irish safety Matthias Farley fell on the ball to clinch it and send BC to its seventh straight loss.
“We played a really good football team and we played a really good football team that knows how to win,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “And we played them nose to nose.”
Although the century-old ballpark is just a few T stops from Boston College’s Chestnut Hill campus, Notre Dame was officially the home team as part of the “Shamrock Series” — an effort to stay in touch with out-of-town alumni.
Previous results from the series were posted on Fenway’s Green Monster, and the results of games involving teams in the College Football Playoff hunt were displayed where the baseball scores usually are.
The field was laid out from the third-base line to the right-field bullpens, with the yard markers and end zones decorated in the old-style font of the Red Sox. The Irish came out from the Boston dugout, where their iconic “Play Like a Champion Today” sign was hung. (Receiver Torii Hunter Jr., whose father and namesake played against the Red Sox, was given David Ortiz’s locker in the clubhouse.)
The evening began with a moment of silence for the parents of former BC quarterback Doug Flutie, who died of heart attacks within an hour of each other on Wednesday. The Notre Dame band played “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with the American flag draped over the Green Monster.
Kizer was picked off in the BC end zone on Notre Dame’s opening possession. He threw another interception at the Eagles’ 3 and another near midfield. Notre Dame also coughed up the ball at the Eagles’ 3 and at the BC 32.
The Irish even fumbled on their only touchdown drive of the first half, but escaped when center Nick Martin fell on the ball. They extended the drive again when Yoon’s 44-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, but the Eagles were called for roughing the kicker.
Two plays later, Kizer hit Carlisle for a 10-yard score to make it 10-0. Notre Dame made it 16-3 in the third quarter when Kizer connected with Brown from 12 yards out on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone, right in front of the visitor’s dugout on what is usually the third-base line.
Yoon’s second field goal made it 19-3.
Smith, who took over in the third quarter for John Fadule, cut through the line and outran the defense for an 80-yard score. A delay of game penalty put the 2-point conversion attempt at the 8-yard line, and Smith’s pass sailed out of the end zone incomplete.