Notre Dame earned a convincing 45-32 victory over North Carolina last night, and there were a number of standouts in the win. Picking just one player was difficult, especially for the offense, but in the end there were three players that stood out above the rest.
OFFENSE - QB Drew Pyne
Stats: 24-34, 70.6%, 289 yards, 3 TD, 20 rush yards
Runners Up: RB Chris Tyree, RB Audric Estime, RB Logan Diggs, TE Michael Mayer
It was a rough start for Pyne, who threw three incompletions on his first five attempts and also took an early sack. On the final play of the first quarter Pyne spun out of pressure and took off to his right, rushing for 12 yards to convert a 3rd-and-7. That play sparked the entire offense, and was the beginning of Pyne's outstanding performance.
On the very next play he hit running back Logan Diggs up the sideline for a 34-yard gain, and four plays later he hit Michael Mayer over the middle for a 10-yard touchdowns. On Notre Dame's next series, Pyne hit Lorenzo Styles over the top for a 30-yard touchdown throw to give the Irish a touchdown, and the lead.
Pyne was decisive, accurate and aggressive. He ran the Irish offense at a very high level, getting the ball out to this playmakers and allowing them to do work. The junior finished the game 24-34 for 289 yards and three touchdowns, and he converted a pair of third downs with his legs.
DEFENSE - DL Rylie Mills
Stats: 5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks
Runners Up: CB TaRiq Bracy, DT Jayson Ademilola, DE Isaiah Foskey
It was hard to pick just one defender, but Mills had the first big stop of the game and he was arguably the most productive player for the Irish defense. North Carolina went right down the field on Notre Dame on the game's opening drive, but Mills had a key stack on a line stunt that stalled the second drive of the game. That began Notre Dame dominating the North Carolina offense for the next two and a half quarters.
Mills played inside and outside, depending on the opponent personnel, and he made plays at both spots. Mills was strong against the run and played with a good motor. He finished the game with 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. His five tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss were both new career highs for Mills.
SPECIAL TEAMS - PR Brandon Joseph
Stats: 3 punt returns, 43 yards, 14.3 YPR
It was nice not having punter Jon Sot as the special teams player of the game. Sot punted just one time, and as impressive as it was there were other players that stood out even more.
Joseph gets the nod because of how effectively he impacted the Irish field position. Joseph returned three of North Carolina's five punts for a total of 43 yards. He had returns of 17, 17 and 9 yards in the win.
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