SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Sixth-ranked Notre Dame made the most of its limited opportunities. Wake Forest didn’t.
The Demon Deacons had 23 first downs to 15 for the Fighting Irish, 340 yards to 282 yards in total offense and had the ball for 11:36 longer than Notre Dame (9-1, No. 4 CFP).
The Irish won 28-7 anyway, getting a 98-yard touchdown run from Josh Adams, scoring twice on two trips into the red zone and adding another TD on a 28-yard interception return by Andrew Trumbetti. The Demon Deacons were 1 of 4 in the red zone.
“Notre Dame is a very good football team. They don’t need our help, and we gave them a lot of help tonight,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.
Adams started in place of Notre Dame leading rusher C.J. Prosise, who was held out after sustaining a concussion last week, though coach Brian Kelly said he could have played. Adams, fourth on the Irish depth chart in the preseason, ran for 141 yards to post his second straight 100-yard game and third of the season. He moved into fifth place for most rushing yards by a Notre Dame freshman with 553.
After the Irish stopped Wake Forest on the 1-yard line in the second quarter, Adams had the longest scoring play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history. He took a handoff from DeShone Kizer, broke one tackle then stiff-armed defensive back Ryan Janvion and ran untouched the rest of the way up the right sideline for the 98-yard score.
“Obviously, the run was one for the highlight reel: Physical, explosive, sheds off a tackler,” Kelly said. “Obviously a big play where we’re backed up, and just a terrific run.”
It was the longest running play in Notre Dame history, surpassing the 92-yard run by Bob Livingstone against USC in 1947. It’s also the longest play from scrimmage ever for the Irish. The previous best was a 96-yard pass from Blair Kiel to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981.
It was the second touchdown run of at least 90 yards this season for Notre Dame. Prosise had a 91-yard score against Georgia Tech on Sept. 19. There had only been two TD runs that long in the previous 126 seasons of Notre Dame football.
“When I broke it, all I could see was (receiver) Chris Brown running down faster than I was down the sidelines, so I was like, “I gotta catch up.’ He did a great job blocking downfield,” Adams said.
Kizer added touchdown runs of 12 and five yards for the Irish and was 13 of 19 for 111 yards passing.
“The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it,” Kelly said.
Kizer said it was frustrating that the Irish struggled, but said they have to take it as a positive.
“Now being off the field and realizing that it’s November and we just came out with a 21-point win, it’s huge for us,” he said. “We’re moving forward. We have a win streak going.”
Quarterback John Wolford scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter for Wake Forest (3-7), but the Demon Deacons squandered three other red-zone opportunities.
“It was very frustrating. They weren’t really doing anything different (in the red zone), they were just pinching hard,” running back Tyler Bell said. “It was just mental errors with us.”
Wolford was 19 of 30 for 219 yards with one interception. Bell rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries.
Kizer said the important thing for the Irish is that they kept moving toward the playoffs.
“This is what we dream of, to be in this position at this time of the year,” he said. “And this is just another step in the road to try and accomplish a mission.”