Notre Dame picks up first win
BY MICHAEL WOJTYCHIW September 17, 2011
It took four games, but Notre Dame finally got that elusive first victory of the 2011 season Friday night as the Dons held on to defeat visiting Leo 27-8 in Niles.
“It’s a really good feeling to get it,’’ said quarterback Nick Pieruccini. “We needed it and we just have to take it one game at a time to get to the goal of the playoffs.’’
Notre Dame (1-3) rushed out to a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter, as sophomore running back Chris James scored on a 32-yard run. His run capped off a six-play, 86 yard drive, in which James rushed for 59 yards.
Down 14-0 before the half, a fumble on a failed double reverse gave Leo (2-2) its best starting field position it would have all night, at the Notre Dame 32. Unfortunately for the Lions, quarterback Jarod Cooper threw four incomplete passes and the threat was thwarted.
Leo was able the hold the ball for the majority of the third quarter, 10-and-a half total, but was unable to capitalize. Both drives ended at within the Notre Dame 25.
Through out the first three and a half quarters, the two teams combined for 14 points. Within the last six minutes of the game, the two combined for 21, as the Dons widened their lead to 20-0 on a 15-yard pass from Pieruccini to Joe Parrinello.
Leo answered on a 61-yard screen pass from Cooper to speedy running back Keith Harris Jr.
The Dons would answer back four plays later, when Nick Lato broke through for a 38-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
“Our offense works much better when the run is setting up the pass,’’ said Pieruccini. “As you can see, it makes it flow a lot more easily and makes us look better.’’
Pieruccini would finish completing 8 of 14 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. He also added a one-yard rushing touchdown. James finished with 118 yards on 13 carries.
Harris Jr. finished with 74 yards on 22 carries for the Lions.