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Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown runs the ball past North Carolina’s K.J. Sails (9) and Myles Dorn (1) during the first half Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
| Gerry Broome/AP

Notre Dame uses ground game to win fourth straight

SHARE Notre Dame uses ground game to win fourth straight
SHARE Notre Dame uses ground game to win fourth straight

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Notre Dame didn’t have its starting quarterback, and its best runner was limited by dehydration. The Fighting Irish also had to operate in rainy conditions on the road.

And they did just fine.

Josh Adams ran for 118 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown, and No. 21 Notre Dame stuck with its strong ground game to beat North Carolina 33-10 on Saturday.

Adams, ranked among the national rushing leaders, carried the ball just 13 times before leaving the game. But Deon McIntosh added 124 yards rushing and two scores for the Fighting Irish (5-1), who won a third straight road game against a power-conference opponent despite not having starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush due to a right foot injury.

“We needed some resolve and some mental toughness,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said, “and we showed that today.”

Wimbush was on the sideline as the No. 2 QB behind first-time starter Ian Book. The sophomore, who had thrown just eight passes this season, was 17 of 31 for 146 yards and a touchdown while running for 45 yards. He also threw two interceptions.

“I had some nerves when I first got out there,” Book said. “But the 10 guys on that offense with me make my job a lot easier, so I had all the confidence in the world.”

Still, the Fighting Irish had no trouble earning their fourth straight win by at least 20 points since a 20-19 loss to Georgia on Sept. 9, the first time they have accomplished that feat since 2005.

Chazz Surratt threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Ratliff-Williams before halftime in the only noteworthy offensive play for the Tar Heels (1-5). North Carolina finished with 265 yards and eight three-and-outs in its second straight lackluster showing.

“It comes down to me as the head coach putting them in a position to be successful,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “And I haven’t found a way to make that happen yet.”

THE TAKEAWAY

The Fighting Irish certainly can lean on their sturdy ground game. They entered ranked second nationally with 20 rushing touchdowns, third in yards per carry (7.14) and seventh in rushing yards per game (301.4). It offered unflashy reliability Saturday as Notre Dame got 341 of its 487 total yards on the ground.

“We probably weren’t as opportunistic as we have been this year offensively,” Kelly said. “But when we needed it, we obviously put together a great second half in terms of controlling the clock and running the football.”

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