ATLANTA (AP) — Kyren Williams ran for two touchdowns, Ian Book passed for another and No. 4 Notre Dame moved on to its biggest game of the season with a dominant defensive performance, stifling Georgia Tech 31-13 on Saturday.
Book completed 18 of 26 passes for 199 yards in another efficient performance for the Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Williams shook off a fumble that Georgia Tech returned for a touchdown to score on runs of 2 and 4 yards. He finished with 76 yards on 15 carries.
Next up for Notre Dame: a showdown against No. 1 Clemson in South Bend. And the Irish won’t have to face, Trevor Lawrence, the star quarterback who will have to sit out the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Georgia Tech (2-5, 2-4) has lost three in a row by a combined score of 152-47.
Leading the ACC in time of possession and ranked in the top 10 nationally, Notre Dame lived up to its ball-hogging reputation on the very first possession. Book guided a 15-play, 81-yard drive that included four straight third-down conversions before an 8-yard touchdown pass to Joe Wilkins.
Georgia Tech’s bright spot was provided by the defense. With Notre Dame seemingly driving for a two-touchdown lead to start the second quarter, Williams had the ball stripped away by Juanyeh Thomas just before the runner’s knee hit the ground.
Zamari Walton scooped it up and scooted 93 yards down the sideline for the longest fumble return in school history.
But that was merely a brief stumble for the Fighting Irish, who responded quickly with a 75-yard drive capped by Williams’ 2-yard score, led 17-7 at halftime and finished off the home team when C’Bo Flemister’s scored on a 3-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame’s defense had had nine tackles behind the line, five sacks and two forced fumbles.
Notre Dame: After struggling to beat Louisville at home, the Fighting Irish have looked much more like a Top 10 team the last couple of weeks against ACC weaklings Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech. But even without Lawrence, Clemson will clearly provide a much stiffer challenge. Notre Dame needs a big game from Book and another stout defensive performance to knock off the five-time reigning ACC champions.
Georgia Tech: It was a dismal offensive performance for the Yellow Jackets, who didn’t manage any offensive points until Jordan Mason scored a meaningless TD midway through the fourth quarter. The only other scoring opportunity ended with freshman quarterback Jeff Sims getting sacked on third down and Jude Kelley missing a 44-yaard field goal. The Jackets managed just 88 yards rushing on 33 carries, a 2.7-yard average.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have lost three straight to Clemson, including a 30-3 blowout in the Cotton Bowl semifinal game two seasons ago. Notre Dame’s lone victory over the Tigers was a 21-17 triumph the first time the teams met in 1977.
Georgia Tech: Off next week before returning to the field Nov. 14 to host Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets must win their remaining four games to avoid a second straight losing season.
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