Only in spring football can there be one touchdown scored in a game, yet still finish with a 54-43 final score.
Everett Golson and the Irish quarterbacks were on the run most of the afternoon while getting sacked 10 times.
The scoring system was created because the game was not divided into two different teams but strictly an offensive team (Gold) and defensive team (Blue).
Thus, in addition to the regular scoring system in any football game, the offense also received two points for a big-chunk pass (20 or more yards), two points for a big-chunk run (15 or more yards), and two points for two consecutive first downs.
The defensive scoring was as follows:
• Seven points for a turnover forced before the 50-yard line
• Four points for a series stop before the 50-yard line
• Three points for a turnover forced after the 50-yard line
• Two points for a series stop after the 50-yard line
• Two points for a three and out
• One point for forcing a field goal
A touchdown wasn’t scored until halfway through the fourth quarter when most of the starters on both sides were taken off the field. Freshman quarterback Malik Zaire rifled a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide open C.J. Prosise. The most entertaining moment of the game followed when 340-pound nose guard Louis Nix III was inserted in the shotgun at quarterback for the two-point conversion, faked a pass and scored on a rumble through the middle.
The offense officially finished with 42 running plays that ended up netting only 17 yards. That’s because the defense was credited with 10 sacks — or “tags” of the quarterbacks — for a loss of 79 yards. There were four other lost-yardage plays for nine yards. Junior George Atkinson III was the top rusher with 10 carries for 49 yards, with a long gain of 17.
The quarterbacks combined to complete 20 of 41 passes for 283 yards with the one score and two interceptions (by junior safety Matthias Farley and junior inside linebacker Joe Schmidt). Everett Golson paced the inconsistent attack by completing six of 13 attempts for 98 yards, but also threw the pick near the goal line to Farley. Junior DaVaris Daniels and senior TJ Jones led the receiving corps with three catches apiece for 48 and 38 yards, respectively.
Juniors Ishaq Williams (Cat/defensive end) and Jarrett Grace (Mike linebacker) led the defense with eight tackles apiece. Three of Williams’ stops were behind the line of scrimmage, including two sacks. Grace also had a tackle for loss. Linemen Tyler Stockton and Jarron Jones each contributed two sacks.
Here is the series-by-series summary:
Series 1: From offense’s 30-yard line — 1 Offense vs. 1 Defense
Sophomore Ronnie Stanley started at left guard in place of Chris Watt, who head coach Brian Kelly said had neck pain that was the result of a poor sleeping position.
The defense picked up six points, four for a stop inside the 50 and two for a three and out. Golson threw behind Atkinson III on a first-down screen and was too high on another short toss to Atkinson, who ran for three on second down.
Defense 6, Offense 0
Series 2: From 31 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
The defense picked up four more points with Stockton getting the sack of Andrew Hendrix on the sixth play to end the series at the offense’s 44. Running back Cam McDaniel picked up a first down via a six-yard run, followed by a seven-yard pass from Hendrix to Daniel Smith. McDaniel also caught a quick flip from Hendrix for six yards.
Defense 10, Offense 0
Series 3: From 26 — 1 Offense vs. 1 Defense
With Tommy Rees at quarterback, Atkinson swept for six over the left side for a first down and Rees followed with a 12-yard completion to TJ Jones to midfield, picking up two points for back-to-back first downs. On third-and-eight, McDaniel made a beautiful one-handed stab on a short Rees pass that picked up 25 yards to the defense’s 23.
The drive ended with two incomplete passes toward the end zone, with cornerback KeiVarae Russell having fine coverage on a pass intended for Daniels. Nick Tausch’s 40-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide.
Defense 11, Gold 4
Series 4: From 22 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
The offense picked up a first down on a 12-yard run by end Chris Brown off a reverse. On third-and-six from the offense’s 46, a Hendrix screen to Will Mahone was mishandled. The defense received four points for making a stop inside the 50. TJ Jones lost flight of the ball on a 36-yard punt by Kyle Brindza.
Defense 15, Offense 4
Series 5: From 18 — 1 Offense vs. 1 Defense
Golson missed an open Daniels on first down, but a pass interference call on Farley on the next play while covering tight end Ben Koyack gave the offense a first down at the 33. Off a fake stretch run, Golson completed a 17-yard bullet to TJ Jones for a first down at the defense’s 49, giving it two points.
On second down, Williams tagged Golson for a sack to end the first quarter and make it 3rd-and-17.
Defense 15, Offense 6
The previous series ended with a scrambling Golson getting sacked way back at his 28 by nose guard Kona Schwenke for a 16-yard loss, giving the defense four points. Safety Austin Collinsworth did not field the ball when it bounced at the 34.
Defense 19, Offense 6
Series 1: From 34 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
Atkinson exploded for 17 yards through the middle on the first play, giving the offense two points because of a plus-15 run. On third-and-six, Rees executed the bootleg pass to perfection with a 22-yard completion to tight end Troy Niklas, who was running toward the sideline on a drag-like route, giving it four points for a 20-yard pass and back-to-back first downs. The offense picked up zero yardage from there, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Tausch.
Defense 20, Offense 15
Series 2: From 35 — 1 Offense vs. 1 Defense
A long pass across the middle by Golson on second down to TJ Jones resulted in interference on cornerback Josh Atkinson, whose coverage was good but he didn’t turn his head in time. Stockton made a second sack to help force a fourth-and-one at the defense’s 39. Atkinson picked up the first down on a two-yard run through the middle, but absorbed a thundering hit from linebacker Carlo Calabrese.
On third-and-eight from the 35, Golson scrambled away from the rush and, while on the run, fired a perfect 21-yard completion to Daniels on a crossing route.
On first down, Williams and Grace nailed Prosise for a six-yard loss off a reverse. On the next play, Golson fired a bad pass over the middle that appeared to be a missed communication, leading to a diving Farley intercepting the ball at the 1-yard line. The defense picked up five points, two for the stop inside the 50 and three for the turnover inside the 50.
Defense 25, Offense 19
Series 3: From the 1-yard line — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
On first down off play action, Hendrix missed an open Chris Brown at his 40 that could have been a 99-yard touchdown. On second down, McDaniel had zero chance on a hand-off when he was engulfed about three yards deep in the end zone, with Schwenke leading the charge. There were no points for the safety, but four points for the defense for the stop before midfield.
Defense 29, Offense 19
Series 4: From 35 — 1 Offense vs. 1 Defense
On the second play, Niklas judged the ball perfectly while being covered well by Williams for a 24-yard gain down the sideline. Golson followed with a 26-yard strike to Daniels on the next play, with Daniels holding on to the pass despite Josh Atkinson getting called for pass interference.
After no gain by McDaniel at the 14, a fade to Daniels over Atkinson in the end zone slipped out of Daniels’ hands. On third down, Golson scrambled for several seconds before rifling a pass over the middle to a crossing Daniels, whose leap for the high pass missed. Tausch ended the drive with a 31-yard field goal.
Defense 30, Offense 28
Series 5: From 35 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
There were only 29 seconds left when this series started, and on the lone play Hendrix was flushed out of the pocket and sacked by Jarron Jones for a seven-yard loss.
HALFTIME SCORE: Defense 30, Offense 28
Series 1: From 35 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
Zaire made his first appearance at quarterback and ran for four off the read option on the first play and dumped off an 11-yard completion to Mahone on the next before the drive stalled.
Defense 34, Offense 28
Series 2: From 29 — 2-3 Offense vs. 2 Defense
Zaire was sacked for a 14-yard loss by end Tony Springmann on the first play, leading to a third-and-22 in which Zaire’s pass over the middle was well behind early enrollee tight end Mike Heuerman and intercepted by Schmidt. That resulted in seven points for the defense.
Defense 41, Offense 28
Series 3: From Defense’s 25 — 2 Offense vs. 2 Defense
A holding call on the first play put the offense in a hole, and a long pass by Hendrix toward Prosise in the end zone just was over his head while double-covered by Josh Atkinson and Farley. Tausch ended the series with a 36-yard field goal.
Defense 42, Offense 31
Series 4: From 35 — 2-3 Offense vs. 2 Defense
The third quarter, with a running clock after all plays, ended with a third-and-six at the defense’s 49. Zaire hit walk-on Ryan Liebscher for a 12-yard gain on first down.
Defense 42, Offense 31
The previous series ended with a sack of Zaire to score four points.
Defense 46, Offense 31
Series 1: From 23 — 2-3 Offense vs. 2 Defense
The drive was jump-started with a 15-yard facemask penalty on drop linebacker Ben Councell, and then Hendrix connected on a 29-yard pass on a seam over the middle to Mahone, one of the best plays of the game. Zaire came in two plays later and found Prosise way behind the defense at the 5-yard line for the game’s lone touchdown. Nix then tallied the two-point conversion.
Defense 46, Offense 43
Series 2: From 35 — 2-3 Offense vs. 2 -3 Defense
The defense picked up more points on a three and out against the Zaire-led offense.
Defense 52, Offense 43
Series 3: From 50 — 2-3 Offense vs. 2-3 Defense
Walk-on QB Charlie Fiessinger was inserted to close out the scrimmage. He threw two incomplete passes, scrambled for eight yards on third down and concluded the day with an incomplete screen to Mahone.
FINAL SCORE: Defense 54, Offense 43
Next up: Temple on Aug. 31.