Notre Dame opened its season at home with a strong win, taking down Betty H. Fairfax, 24-7, at Scottsdale Community College.
The first ten minutes of the game belonged to Fairfax, which struck first with a blocked punt in the end zone. Stampede safety Fabian Gholston recovered the blocked kick for the touchdown, putting Fairfax up 7-0 minutes into the game.
The Saints defense, however, was able to hold the Fairfax offense scoreless all night. Notre Dame (1-0) tied the game late in the first quarter with a drive led by senior quarterback Thomas Lehman, who made his first start for the Saints. A 12-yard touchdown pass from Lehman to running back Phillip Caniglia finished off the drive, and Notre Dame would take the game from there.
Lehman finished the night 15-for-29 with 202 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception.
“He played very poised. Especially for a guy who didn’t play much at all for us last year,” said Notre Dame coach Gary Gregory. “He did some very good things out there tonight, and he told me as he was walking off the field that there was a lot of room for improvement. So he’s a kid who gets it.”
The Stampede (0-1) struggled to get anything going on offense on the night, as quarterback Joseph Dodd was 4 for 18 with 46 yards passing, with no touchdowns and one interception in the fourth quarter.
Neither team ran the ball successfully. Notre Dame was led by Caniglia who had 12 carries for 30 yards and no touchdowns on the ground. Fairfax had 30 carries for 110 yards, led by Brandon Sellers who had 17 of those carries for 78 yards and no touchdowns.
Kicker Grayson Naquin would score the final points of the game on a 40 yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, putting the Saints up 24-7.
Fairfax coach Kevin Belcher felt their teams special teams also performed well, keeping them in the game late. Kicker Nick Padilla had several punts over 40 yards for the Stampede to go along with the blocked punt they had in the first quarter. Belcher commended his players for their effort on the field, and their ability to keep the game in reach.
“Our kids didn’t quit on themselves. It could’ve been real easy for them to put their heads down after their quick turn-around. But instead they kept battling and kept the game close,” Belcher said.
Notre Dame 24, Betty Fairfax 7
First Downs: ND 12, BFF 7
Rushing: ND 26-55, BFF 30-110
Passing: ND (15-29-202-3-1) BFF (4-18-46-0-1)
Fumbles-lost: ND 2-0, BFF 1-1
Penalties-yards: ND 6-46, BFF 9-85
Notre Dame 7 14 0 3 -- 24
Betty Fairfax 7 0 0 0 -- 7
BF: Gholston blocked punt recovery (Padilla kick)
ND: Caniglia 12 pass from Lehman (Naquin kick)
ND: Manov 11 pass from Lehman (Naquin kick)
ND: Schlueter 4 pass from Lehman (Naquin kick)
ND: Naquin 40 FG