Notre Dame star running back Chris James continued his sensational junior season on Friday night, leading the Dons with six touchdowns and over 250 yards rushing en route to a 49-20 victory over St. Viator.
“He thrives on getting the ball,” Dons coach Mike Hennessey said. “The more you give him the ball the better he’s going to be. … That’s what you want your running back to do.”
James certainly got stronger as the game went on, scoring two touchdowns after halftime, including a 95-yard blur of a run with 4:20 left in the third to put the game out of reach at 42-14.
For James it marked his fifth straight game with over 100 yards rushing.
“It feels great,” James said. “Going into the game, I didn’t expect to put up six touchdowns, I just wanted to win. I give most of my thanks to my offensive line and my offensive coordinator for calling great plays and my fullbacks.”
Hennessey gave lots of credit to his team’s line play, too.
“Our linemen on offense and defense did a great job and controlled the game,” Hennessey said. “That’s a big tell not just in high school, but in any level of football.”
The game started out looking like it would be a shootout: The teams traded touchdowns and were tied 14-14 late in the first half. But Notre Dame started to pull away when it went on a 12-play, 77-yard scoring drive. James capped it with a 15-yard, multiple-tackle-breaking run with 3:09 left in the half.
“All week coach had been saying to be prepared for a fist fight,” middle linebacker Tom Sora said. “Be prepared … because they’re coming, they’re 3-1, they’ll be coming with everything they have and we’ve just got to lay it on the line. I think we came out and the team really played well together.”
Sora and the defense forced a three-and-out on the Lions’ next possession, allowing quarterback Dan Nagode and the offense an opportunity to get in another score before halftime. Starting at their own 30-yard line with 2:14 left, the Dons drove the length of the field before James scored on a 19-yard screen pass with a juke that left a number of St. Viator defensive players skidding in the rain-soaked turf.
Sora, a junior who also splits time at fullback with Matt Galloway opening up holes for James, said that he was happy with the way the defense played on all three levels.
“But the defense came out in the second half really strong,” Sora said. “They didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter. I thought we played great, everyone did their job to get a victory.”
The next test for the 4-1 Dons lies in Nazareth, which travels to Notre Dame on Friday night to continue East Suburban Catholic Conference play.