The second-ranked Notre Dame football team slowed down one of the highest scoring offenses in the country en route to its 15-straight victory in the 31-17 win over No. 19 North Carolina Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
Heading back to the place of his first collegiate start, Ian Book led the Irish offense with another complete performance against the Tar Heels. He completed 23-of-33 passes for 279 yards and one touchdown. Book also had an effective day on the ground, finishing the game with 48 yards on eight carries. Javon McKinley was Book’s favorite target on the day, hauling in six receptions for a career-high 135 yards.
Kyren Williams led the way on the ground with 124 yards on 23 carries and three total touchdowns, marking his second career three-touchdown game.
Defensively, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was all over the field for the Irish, leading the team with nine tackles, which tied a career high. North Carolina entered the game averaging 43.3 points per game and the Irish defense held the hosts to a season-low 17 points on the day. The Irish also limited the Tar Heels to just 298 total yards after coming into the game averaging 563.4 yards per game. The Tar Heels only mustered 87 yards rushing, the fewest for them in a game since 2017.
The first quarter was filled with offense as both teams went back and forth in the opening 15 minutes. Williams tallied two touchdowns in the first quarter on back-to-back drives for the Irish. He rushed in from two yards for his first touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. On the next drive, he caught his first career receiving touchdown from four yards out to tie the game at 14-14.
The offense settled down in the second quarter as both defenses came up with some big stops. Neither team scored until the final two minutes when North Carolina regained the lead with a 42-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the half. Notre Dame answered with a drive down the field prior to the end of the half. The Irish tied the game with a 32-yard field goal from Jonathan Doerer and both teams went to the locker room tied at 17-17.
In the second half, the Irish took their first lead of the day halfway through the third quarter. After a defensive stop, the Irish drove 97 yards on 13 plays to take the lead. Ben Skowronek finished the drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career, and the Irish led 24-17.
Coming into the game, North Carolina had averaged 28.7 points in the second half and the Irish kept the Tar Heels off the scoreboard over the final 30 minutes of play. It was the first time this season the Tar Heels have been shutout in either half. Williams put the game out of reach with his third touchdown of the game, a one-yard rush with 1:20 left in the game.