By JOHN FINERAN
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jack Coan threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than a half and No. 6 Notre Dame had two defensive touchdowns in winning its sixth straight game, 55-0 over beleaguered Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Coan, a grad transfer from Wisconsin, completed 15 of 20 passes. He had first-half touchdown strikes of 52 yards to Michael Mayer and 20 yards to Logan Diggs as the Irish took a 45-0 halftime. Coan exited after one series in the third quarter and was replaced by true freshman Tyler Buchner, who ripped off a 68-yard run on his first play.
With Coan directing the offense, and the Irish defense hounding Georgia Tech quarterback Jordan Yates all afternoon, coach Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish (CFP No. 8) improved to 10-1, reaching the 10-win level for the fifth straight season by outgaining coach Geoff Collins’ Yellow Jackets (3-8) by a 514-224 yardage margin.
The shutout was the first at Notre Dame for first-year defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and first by the Irish since a 52-0 whitewash of South Florida on Sept. 19 of last season when the Irish reached the College Football Playoff for the second time in three seasons.
Linebacker Jack Kiser had a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown to give the Irish a 10-0 lead after the first of two field goals by Jonathan Doerer. The Irish then added a 9-yard touchdown run by Kyren Williams, his first of two rushing touchdowns, and Coan’s TD pass to Mayer for a 24-0 lead after the first quarter. Freshman running back Logan Diggs had two touchdowns in the second quarter, the second on a reception from Coan, as Notre Dame opened a 45-0 halftime lead.
Grad defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa returned Yates’ fumble caused by defensive end Isaiah Foskey 70 yards in the third quarter as the Irish led 55-0 after three quarters. Notre Dame had two interception returns for touchdowns in a 41-13 victory over Wisconsin earlier this season.
Yates threw for 96 yards on 14-of-28 passing.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets couldn’t get out of their own way in the first half, totaling just 117 yards as Notre Dame harassed Yates and limited freshman running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who was second nationally in all-purpose yards at 168 coming into the game, to just 40 rushing yards in the first half. He finished with 58 rushing yards and 122 all-purpose yards.
Notre Dame: The Irish couldn’t have played much better than they did in the first half, scoring on all six of their offensive possessions and adding the 43-yard interception return by Kiser, who had one of the two interception returns for touchdowns against Wisconsin. Kiser, however, left the game in the second quarter with a leg injury.
The 45 first-half points was the most by the Irish since they scored 45 points against visiting Miami (Ohio) in a 52-17 victory in 2017. The Irish defensive line had seven of its quarterback hurries by halftime.
Depending on the outcome of later games, Notre Dame likely solidified its No. 6 ranking in The Associated Press ranking and probably would move up a spot Tuesday in the College Football Rankings with Ohio State’s 56-7 thrashing of No. 7 Michigan State.
Georgia Tech: Host No. 1 Georgia on Saturday.
Notre Dame: At Stanford on Saturday.
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