SOUTH BEND, Ind. — There was a redout at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night. And the Georgia Bulldogs gave their fervent fan base a big win to cheer about.
Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:34 to play and the Bulldogs’ ballyhooed defense made it stand up in a 20-19 victory. Blankenship’s kick capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive highlighted by a 31-yard pass from freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to senior wide receiver Javon Wims.
Blankenship, a sophomore who had missed a 44-yarder earlier in the game, was placed on scholarship earlier this week. Coach Kirby Smart told the team after the game.
Taking over at their own 25 with 3:39 to go, the Fighting Irish were forced into another three-and-out and had to punt for the ninth time on the night. Lorenzo Carter, who had a sack, strip and recover earlier in the game, provided pressure and helped for Notre Dame into three incompletions. The Irish had 259 total yards at that point, after gaining more than 600 last week against Temple.
No. 15 Georgia (2-0) was playing above the Mason-Dixon line for the first time since 1965 and faced Notre Dame for the first time since playing for the national championship 37 years ago. The Bulldogs’ fans were excited about it. Notre Dame’s newly-renovated 79,000-seat stadium was seemingly half-filled with red-clad spectators.
“It was a great atmosphere tonight for college football,” Smart said after the game. “It was a shame wither team had to lose the game because it was hard fought. And I have a lot of respect for the team we just play.”
Spectators and television viewers saw a lot of penalties and mistakes from this youthful Georgia team, which was penalized 12 times for 127 yards and committed two turnovers. But the true freshman Fromm made enough good plays in his first career start to help the offense get through it. He was 16 of 29 for 141 yards pass with a touchdown and an interception. Terry Godwin made a fantastic one-handed for the six-yard score in the first half.
Notre Dame had one last chance with 1:57 to play with no timeouts from 81 yards away. But Davin Bellamy’s sack and strip resulted in another fumble recovery for Carter. Georgia’s two senior outside linebackers had the arguably the best performances of their careers.