SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Ian Book was coy after throwing three touchdown passes in No. 15 Notre Dame’s 40-7 victory over Boston College Saturday whether it would be his final game at Notre Dame Stadium.
“We’ll see – you never know what can happen,” Book said after being introduced to fans before leading the Irish to a fourth straight victory.
Notre Dame (9-2, No. 15 CFP) completed a second straight unbeaten season (7-0) in Notre Dame Stadium, where the Irish have now won 18 straight.
Book completed 26 of 40 passes for 239 yards and led the Irish with 66 yards on 12 carries. His three touchdown passes give him 29 for the season, 14 in the last four games.
“We haven’t sat down and talked about it,” Kelly said about the future of Book, who has another season remaining because of a redshirt season in 2016.
What Kelly did want to talk about was his defense’s play in corralling star running back AJ Dillon of the Eagles (5-6). Dillon was held to 56 yards on 14 carries and Boston College managed just 128 yards on 41 runs.
“It’s (about) controlling the line of scrimmage,” Kelly said. “It’s not one guy. Our guys have bought into our scheme. They’re very disciplined. We were a little uneven early on. To go undefeated at home two years in a row says everything about what these seniors mean to this program.”
A total of 29 players, some with eligibility remaining, were introduced before the final home game. The group is 31-6 in three seasons since a 4-8 freshman year in 2016.
But for the second straight week, Notre Dame Stadium was not filled after a streak of 273 sellouts since 1973. The announced crowd of 71,827 was 5,795 short of capacity.
Leading 16-7 at halftime thanks to Jonathan Doerer’s field goals of 47, 20 and 45 yards, the Irish scored 17 points in the third quarter to ground the Eagles.
“I felt great about it at halftime, but we just had a poor third quarter,” said BC coach Steve Addazio, who was an assistant under former Irish coach Bob Davie. “I think it was an execution letdown. We did not execute in the third quarter.”
Book’s second touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to Cole Kmet, followed a fumble recovery by linebacker Drew White. On Notre Dame’s next possession, wideout Braden Lenzy zipped 61 yards on a jet sweep to put the Irish in command, 33-7.
Book also connected with Chase Claypool on a 6-yard TD in the second quarter and Chris Finke for a 6-yard score in the final quarter that was set up by freshman safety Kyle Hamilton’s team-leading fourth interception. Claypool and Finke have used up their eligibility.
“We wanted to be all seniors in the end zone on Senior Night,” Book said. “To be able to get those two in there is awesome.”
Boston College’s only touchdown came in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by quarterback Dennis Grosel, who managed just 63 yards on 9-of-20 passing and was sacked four times by the Irish, twice by defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji.
Boston College: The Eagles were fifth in the nation in rushing at 282.2 yards a game coming in.
“I think the defense played out of their minds today, but as far as the third quarter, we’ve just got to play better on offense,” said Dillon, whose grandfather Thom Gatewood was a 1970 All-America split end at Notre Dame. “It’s not on anybody specifically. We just got to do better.”
The 16-play, 84-yard scoring drive leading to Grosel’s TD that took 6:52 off the second-quarter clock and temporarily provided a 7-6 lead was the highlight of a long day for the Eagles, who had 191 total yards.
Notre Dame: The Irish scored on four of five first-half possessions, but four offensive line penalties, including three on false starts, bogged down the drives and forced field goals. Book and the Irish heated up in the second half, finishing with 501 total yards, 252 on the ground and 249 through the air. It was their third game of the season over 500 yards.
After a poor second half, the Eagles now must regroup at home before trying to become bowl eligible for the sixth time in Addazio’s seven seasons at Chestnut Hill.
“We prepared our tails off for this one,” said Addazio, whose team was coming off a bye week and has now lost two straight games. “I’m excited to go back, figure out our problems and go on to the next one. We got to go play, go practice and come out a hundred miles an hour.”
“It’s to extend the season – it’s do or die,” BC defensive tackle Tanner Karafa said.
Notre Dame: The Irish probably won’t make any significant move up from No. 15.
Boston College: Needs a victory at ACC rival Pittsburgh Saturday to become bowl eligible.
Notre Dame: Seeks a third straight 10-victory season Saturday at Stanford.
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