Rivalries are innate to college football’s nature, and the so-called “Holy War” is one of college football’s oldest rivalries. Past moments from the “Holy War” make up parts of Boston College football’s identity, partly because there are bigger things at stake when BC and Notre Dame suit up to play one another: shared Catholic values.
But the schools’ shared religiosity hasn’t stopped the Fighting Irish from beating up on BC, which hasn’t defeated Notre Dame since 2008.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Notre Dame had won 27 straight regular-season games against ACC opponents.
On Saturday, the Fighting Irish (8–3) extended that streak when they hosted the Eagles, who came into South Bend after snapping a streak of their own—beating a ranked opponent for the first time in eight years. Building off its 37–0 first-half lead, Notre Dame coasted to a 44–0 victory over BC (3–8, 2–5 Atlantic Coast) in redshirt freshman Emmett Morehead’s third career start.
“I don’t think it was for a lack of effort,” head coach Jeff Hafley said after the game. “We had a bunch of guys who didn’t practice all week and came out and gave everything they had. That is not an excuse of why we did not win this football game, but I appreciate their effort.”
On the first play of the game, Logan Diggs broke through a seam for a gain of 51 yards.
Notre Dame had a third-and-6 later on the same drive. As quarterback Drew Pyne dropped cleanly in the pocket, BC forced him to scramble to his right with Bryce Steele in pursuit. Pyne threw an incomplete pass into man-to-man coverage, and the Eagles limited the Fighting Irish to a 26-yard field goal attempt, which Blake Grupe successfully converted.
On its next six offensive drives—all of which came in the first half—Notre Dame registered 34 points, and for the second time in school history, the Fighting Irish scored 35 points or more in five-straight games.
“I thought Notre Dame was the biggest offensive line we played all year,” Hafley said. “I’m not sure it was just physicality. I thought they did some things that we missed fit. We missed some tackles, but certainly a really big O-line and big backs.”
Jaelen Gill took the first BC kick return 42 yards to BC’s 48-yard line, but a holding penalty forced the Eagles all the way back to their 13-yard line.
From there, Notre Dame’s true freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison took over.
After Morehead threw two incompletions on the Eagles’ first two offensive plays of the game, the signal caller out of Woodside, Calif. tossed a ball up in the air for Joseph Griffin Jr. Morrison jumped the route, recording his first interception of the game.
“I just felt like we never got into a rhythm,” Hafley said. “Obviously in that second half, you couldn’t throw. The football was hard enough to throw in the first half and then in the second, I don’t know if you could even see what was going on [from the broadcast]. It was hard to see from the sidelines.”
By the end of the game, Morrison had three interceptions, becoming the first Notre Dame player to record three interceptions in a single game since 2010, when now-Minnesota Vikings pro bowler Harrison Smith did.
Diggs began to eat up BC’s interior defense, and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford kept feeding him. After Diggs took carries of 5 yards, 9 yards, and 4 yards, the Fighting Irish were two yards away from punching in their first touchdown of the game.
Notre Dame was unsuccessful on the next play, but Diggs finally stepped into the end zone from the 1-yard line, putting Notre Dame up 10–0. For the rest of the game, Diggs showcased his elusiveness, accumulating 122 yards and one touchdown from the ground.
The scoring spree never came to a halt for the Fighting Irish, thanks in large part to Michael Mayer, Notre Dame’s star tight end and potential future first-round pick. Mayer hauled in five receptions for 64 yards in the game and was a big contributor on third down plays.
“[Mayer] was certainly a point of emphasis in the game plan,” linebacker Vinny DePalma said. “He’s as good as it gets.”
The Eagles were down 37–0 by the end of the half, and the half-time statistical comparison was one of the worst BC’s seen all season long. Notre Dame led in net total yards 336–81, net rushing yards 214–1, and scored on all five of its red-zone trips. The only category BC led was total turnovers, which the Eagles led 4–0.
On BC’s first offensive drive of the second half, heavy flurries of snow began to come down in heaps from the sky, and the “Holy War” was becoming something more akin to the “Frozen War.” The weather never got to the Fighting Irish, and the Eagles went scoreless once again.
“When we turn the ball over three times in the first quarter, four times in the first half, and five times in the game, you really don’t have a chance against a good team,” Hafley said. “You don’t have a chance against anybody.”
Despite being scoreless, Zay Flowers surpassed Alex Amidon’s 191 career receptions to become BC’s leader in receptions. Just a week after Flowers broke the school record for career receiving yards, Notre Dame held Flowers to just 46 yards on three receptions.
The only difference between the first and second half was that BC—donning all-white uniforms—became unrecognizable on the field in the whiteout blizzard.