Saturday’s emotional Senior Day in South Bend was highlighted by a crushing 31-0 defeat of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-6) by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-0). Many Notre Dame’s 29 graduating players played a vital role in the win and the team’s undefeated 7-0 record at home this season.
Senior RB Cierre Wood sparked the blue and gold offense early in the first quarter by rushing for a 68-yard score, his longest of the season. Wood added another run for 20 yards, ending his final appearance in South Bend with 150 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Senior LB Carlo Calabrese forced a key a turnover on a crushing and game-ending blow on Wake Forest RB Josh Harris that was recovered by Senior Safety Zeke Motta. The Notre Dame defense suffocated the Wake Forest offense allowing only 209 yards of offense: 55 rushing yards and no points. The Fighting Irish last shut out came against Nevada in 2009.
Seniors WR John Goodman and TE Tyler Eifert made their presence felt in the first quarter on the receiving end. Goodman pulled down a 50-yard pass for a score and the All-American Eifert grabbed a two-yard pass to put the Irish ahead 21-0. Tyler finished his last day in South Bend as Notre Dame’s all-time Tight End receptions leader with 130.
Overshadowed by his blue and gold upperclassmen teammates redshirt Freshman quarterback Everet Golson quietly set a career record with 346 yards on 20-for-30 passing. He accomplished this feat in one half as QBs Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix relived him of his duties the rest of the way.
LB Manti Te’o had made it clear that he returned for his senior year to share this special day with his family. The Notre Dame student section said good bye to their favorite player from Hawaii by sporting colorful yellow lais and giving the heisman-hopeful and one of Notre Dame’s all-time greats a standing ovation as he left the game for a final time with thirteen minutes remaining after registering six tackles.
As tears filled the eyes of fans and seniors alike Fighting Irish in the final moments of the team’s 11th straight victory head coach Brian Kelly was wet from a celebratory “Gatorade bath” administered by Te’o and other players.
The team ends its season in Southern California against archrival USC Saturday, November 24th at 8pm EST. History and luck may be on the Fighting Irish side. In their last game against the Trojans as an undefeated team, the blue and gold won 27-10 and went on to win their last championship in 1988.