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DeShone Kizer Bounces Back in Temple Win, Keeps Notre Dame Alive for Playoff

Published by Bleacher Report on Sun, 01 Nov 2015

A smooth road start for Notre Dame Fighting Irish football devolved into a horrifying hodgepodge of penalties, interceptions, an ejection and a scuffle. But Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer helped bring Notre Dame back to defeat the Temple Owls and keep his teams playoff hopes alive Saturday night in Philadelphia.Kizer overcame two early interceptions and a slew of Irish miscues to spearhead a six-play, 75-yard drive that vaulted Notre Dame in front after the Owls had snatched a three-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.And with that, Notre Dame improved to 7-1 in imperfect but acceptable fashion. Most importantly, the Irish remain in playoff contention.On 2nd-and-10 from the Temple 17-yard line, Kizer grooved a pristine ball past two Owls to star wide receiver Will Fuller for the go-ahead and, eventually, game-winning score.No. 9 Notre Dame checked into Lincoln Financial Field as a double-digit favorite against No. 21 and previously unbeaten Temple. And the Irish rolled to a quick starta 12-play, 74-yard touchdown drive followed by a defensive stop.But Kizer tossed his two interceptions in the red zone after an additional pair of risky throws earlier. Notre Dame led by just four at the halftime break.The Irish again marched down the field on their first second-half drive. They covered 80 yards on 15 plays and tacked on a 23-yard field goal. From there, Notre Dame fans were treated to a seemingly unending nightmare of trouble.Multiple offensive penalties, including an offensive pass interference call on tight end Nic Weishar, positioned the Irish with 2nd-and-33. Irish head coach Brian Kelly had to be restrained on the sideline from his own staff members at one point. Soon thereafter, Irish senior safety Elijah Shumate was ejected for targeting in the end zone, which gave Temple a first down and led to a Jahad Thomas touchdown.A Temple field goal handed Notre Dame a three-point deficit, but the Irish responded quickly enough to save their season.Facing a third down, Kizer connected with Fuller to the right side for seven yards and a first down. The redshirt freshman quarterback then synced up beautifully with freshman tight end Alize Jones on a corner pattern for 45 yards. Two plays later, Kizer hit Fullertheir second late-game, go-ahead score of the season.With his standout running back, C.J. Prosise, held to 25 yards on 14 carries (1.8 yards per attempt), Kizer came through with 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including the where-did-that-come-from 79-yard scoring sprint. He again supplied conversions in short-yardage situations. And he grappled with Temple star linebacker Tyler Matakevich head-on at the beginning of the second half, lowering his shoulder into the bulky 'backer for a conversion on 2nd-and-8.Just two quarters earlier, after his first rushing touchdown, Kizer stared down Matakevich in the back of the end zone and flapped his arms, presumably a confident nod to the Owls. That moxie, before and after the miscues, helped propel the Irish.Like its quarterback, Notre Dame wasnt perfect. But for the seventh time in eight tries, the Irish found a way to win. The margin for error remains razor thin moving forward. But Kizers confidence and command have counteracted some errors.For now, Notre Dame rolls on.All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow@MikeMonaco_on Twitter.
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