Pairc Tailteann, Navan, IRELAND - Notre Dame honored the memory of its former head coach Scot Bemis who passed away from cancer in January by opening the regular season with a convincing victory over Philadelphia’s Father Judge at Pairc Tailteann, Navan, on Friday.
Running back/linebacker Luke Taffuri was the star of the show for the Saints in their 20-6 victory, as he ran in two touchdowns and had five tackles on defense.
After driving close in on one of its early series of plays, Notre Dame went for it on fourth down and quarterback Nick Duckworth's 25-yard completion moved the Saints to 1st-and-goal after. On the next play, Taffuri found a gap and plowed through for the opening touchdown.
Sean O’Brien’s point after try was blocked, but Notre Dame still burst into a 6-0 lead.
After a series of three-and-outs Duckworth fumbled when sacked by Father Judge’s Kyle Douglas, and that turned over possession to the Father Judge on the Notre Dame 33-yard line. Conor Foley kicked a 29-yard field goal attempt to close the gap to 6-3 in the opening quarter as Father Judge held a 6-3 lead into the second quarter.
However, Father Judge failed to take advantage of Notre Dame penalties on its next drive that saw them move into Notre Dame's red zone, then both sides traded interceptions with Jordan Sclueter’s proving decisive. A 39-yard catch by Notre Dame tight end Grant Martinez was followed by Sclueter's carried to move play to a first down on the 26 yard line.
Patience was the name of the game from Notre Dame as they benefitted from a couple of penalty calls including a face mask call and a pass interference judgement. A massive pass to Bailey Jones brought play to first and goal where the outstanding Taffuri ran in for his second touchdown and O’Brien added the extra point to hand Notre Dame a 13-3 lead at the break.
Three minutes in the second half Taffuri broke off another big play for 34 yards to set up 1st-and-goal on the 6-yard line for Notre Dame. Notre Dame again punished Father Judge with Duckworth finding Martinez uncovered in the end zone. O’Brien added the PAT as Notre Dame stretched its lead to 20-3.
On the ensuing possession, Father Judge went on the offensive with Ryan Mackiewicz finding Max Pascavitch for a 45-yard completion. Notre Dame was called for a 15-yard penalty which set up Father Judge on the 12-yard line.
But Taffuri picked off a pass on the 1-yard line to turn the ball back over in Notre Dame’s favor. Father Judge later could only settle for a Foley field goal to close the gap to 20-6 with 8:22 remaining.