Quarterback Malik Zaire left the game in the third quarter with a season-ending fractured ankle injury, but in stepped redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer for the miracle play to give the Irish a nearly unexplainable win for No. 9 Notre Dame (2-0). Kizer unloaded a deep touchdown pass down the left side of the field from the Virginia (0-2) 39-yard line, with Will Fuller using speed to his advantage to get by the defender and his hands to haul in the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left to play. Notre Dame escaped Virginia with a 34-27 win.
Zaire left the game late in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. He would be carted off the Notre Dame sideline for further medical examination after having his ankle rolled over while being tackled. With Zaire sidelined, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had no choice but to go with redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer the rest of the way. Kizer had already thrown a touchdown pass before entering the game to lead the offense. Kizer executed a trick pass on a fake field goal on the opening drive of the game, giving the Irish an early jump in the Cavaliers. Kizer will be expected to lead the offense moving forward with Zaire out of action.
Notre Dame running back C.J. Prossise had a big day on the ground, with 155 rushing yards and a touchdown. He was the most effective player for the Irish in this one, and that helped keep things within reach for the Irish against a balanced Virginia offense, which wore down Notre Dame’s defense. Virginia put up 406 yards of offense, with quarterback Matt Johns passing for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and rushed for one more as the Cavaliers looked for the upset. They nearly got it too.
Virginia looked like a formidable foe for much of the afternoon, which was a good sign for head coach Mike London after his defense was shredded the previous week by UCLA. The bottom line though is Virginia is off to an 0-2 start to the new season, and there will be some tough games to come , once again putting Virginia in an early hole to dig out of in order to make a bowl game. Virginia will stay home next week when William & Mary comes in. The following week will see the Boise State Broncos come to town.
Things will get tougher for Notre Dame from here. Next week the Irish host Georgia Tech in another match-up against an ACC school.
UPDATE (7:31 p.m.): after the game, Brian Kelly announced Zaire suffered a fractured ankle and is out for the season.