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QB Kizer leads No. 18 Notre Dame past Nevada

QB Kizer leads No. 18 Notre Dame past Nevada
Published On: Fri, Sep 09
Oct 19, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive tackle Zack Martin (70), nose tackle Louis Nix (1), defensive lineman Marquis Dickerson (95), and nose tackle Kona Schwenke (96) sing the Notre Dame Alma Mater after Notre Dame defeated the USC Trojans 14-10 at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- DeShone Kizer earned Notre Dame's No. 1 quarterback label this week.

Not No. 1A or No. 1B. Simply No. 1, the clear-cut starter ahead of teammate Malik Zaire.

"He handed over the reins," Kizer said of his coach, Brian Kelly. "We're definitely going to keep the competition rolling, but to know that I'm going to be the guy to step out and be the starter against the next opponent allows me to prepare with a little more confidence throughout the week."

On Saturday, Kizer's confidence was clear for anyone to see. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 18 Notre Dame cruised to a 39-10 win over Nevada.

Running back Josh Adams finished with 106 rushing yards to lead the Fighting Irish. Kizer also rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown before giving way to backup Zaire late in the third quarter with the score out of reach.

Notre Dame (1-1) posted a 444-300 advantage in total yards as it bounced back from a double-overtime loss against Texas six days earlier in its opening game.

"I'm really proud of the way our team had a will to prepare this week," Kelly said. "You don't accidentally win football games. It's hard to win. You just look around college football today with the number of teams struggling to win. Our kids put in the time, they put in the effort, and it wasn't lucky that they won the game. They prepared to win."

Wolf Pack quarterback Tyler Stewart completed 10 of 23 passes for 113 yards and an interception. Running back James Butler tallied 50 rushing yards and 48 receiving yards for Nevada (1-1).

After a scoreless first quarter, Notre Dame pulled away with 25 points in the second quarter to establish a 25-0 halftime lead. That marked the most points in a quarter for Notre Dame since Sept. 3, 2005, when it scored 28 points in the second quarter against Pittsburgh.

"They were better than us by a wide margin," Nevada coach Brian Polian said. "Ultimately, the Notre Dame offense is very, very good, and we couldn't keep rolling our defense out there. We had to do that because we didn't sustain drives on offense. As a result, I think in the end, we just got worn down."

The start of the game was far bumpier for Notre Dame than the finish. Neither team scored during the first quarter as the Fighting Irish notched more penalties (five) than first downs (four).

In the second quarter, the tenor changed. Kizer fired touchdown passes to wide receivers C.J. Sanders and Kevin Stepherson as the Fighting Irish scored 18 points in a span of 4:34.

Kelly praised his quarterback for staying patient rather than trying to force big plays.

"He was a little bit more patient in certain areas," Kelly said. "He slides in the pocket well. He's taking what's available to him instead of trying to do too much."

Running back Tarean Folston added a 2-yard rushing touchdown with 35 seconds to go in the first half to increase Notre Dame's lead to 25-0. The play marked the first touchdown since the 2014 Music City Bowl for Folston, who tore his right ACL in last season's opener.

"It felt so good, I forgot what my end-zone celebration was," Folston said. "I kind of just blanked out. But it was great. To come back on the field that I got injured on last year and score, it felt really good."

Kizer increased the lead to 32-0 with a 2-yard rushing touchdown on Notre Dame's first drive of the second half. He took the snap out of the shotgun formation and plowed across the goal line.

Nevada snapped the shutout on a 27-yard field goal by Brent Zuzo with 3:54 left in the third quarter.

Polian said his players could learn from the loss.

"I can't judge what we are quite yet," Polian said. "I know that we've got a lot of growing up to do. There's no doubt. But there were some positives out there, and we'll build off of it."

NOTES: Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr. was ruled out for Saturday's game because of a concussion he sustained six days earlier at Texas. Junior WR Corey Holmes started in Hunter's place. ... Nevada coach Brian Polian returned to Notre Dame, where he worked as an assistant coach from 2005 to 2009. Polian's responsibilities at Notre Dame included stints as special teams coordinator, assistant linebackers coach and assistant defensive backs coach. ... Notre Dame S Devin Studstill, LB Te'Von Coney and WR C.J. Sanders made their first collegiate starts. ... Nevada RB Akeel Lynch left the game in the second quarter after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit from Notre Dame S Drue Tranquill. ... Notre Dame CB Shaun Crawford exited the game in the first quarter because of a left leg injury. ... The Fighting Irish marked their 250th consecutive sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium, a streak that started in 1974.

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