Tampa Bay Sports Day

BOWLS: Big Play from Book To Boykin Downs LSU In Citrus Bowl

ORLANDO –  Notre Dame secured another 10-win season at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, downing No. 17 LSU, 21-17.

“It was an exciting win. We were a little shorthanded out there. It was, first of all, satisfying to win a bowl game against an opponent in LSU and to do it in the manner that we did, coming from behind with young players out there that, I think, started on scout team. And just really proud of the effort of the entire group: Offense, defense, and special teams,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

The Irish are 2-2 in Camping World Stadium. The previous victory was over Navy during the 2000 regular season. Losses came to Florida State during the 1994 season and in the Champs Sports Bowl at the end of the 2011 campaign.

Neither team led by more than one possession and the lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter. The win gives the No. 14 Irish a 10-3 record to cap the 2017 campaign, giving Kelly at least 10 wins for the third time at Notre Dame and second time in three years.

After both teams struggled to click offensively, Ian Book came into the game with two minutes remaining to give new life to the Irish offense. As Notre Dame pushed their way up the field, Book kept the drive alive by running for Notre Dame’s longest third-down conversion of the year, moving the chains after rushing for 21 yards on 3rd and 19.

The drive culminated in Justin Yoon’s 46-yard field goal to put the Irish on the board with four seconds left in the first half, leading LSU 3-0.

When the second half commenced, LSU answered back by scoring the first TD of the game with 11:37 left in the third quarter. Derrius Guice’s 20-yard TD reception capped off the Tigers’ five-play drive in which they traversed 43 yards in 2:16.

The Irish rebounded from Andraez Williams’ interception at 7:18 in the third with a drive that allowed Notre Dame to add Yoon’s second field goal of the game (49 yards) to the scoreboard, leaving them trailing LSU 7-6 at the end of the third quarter. It was Yoon’s longest field goal of the year.

The Tigers built their lead with a Danny Etling completion to Guice for a two-yard TD reception that put LSU up, 14-6, with 11:13 remaining in the game.

Louisiana native Michael Young brought the Irish back within striking distance when he got his hands on Book’s his six-yard pass and tallied the first touchdown reception of his career. Josh Adams followed by pushing his way into the end zone to give Notre Dame the two-point conversion that would tie the game, 14-14, with under seven minutes until the final whistle.

After making a 12-play, 76-yard trek up the field to put themselves within scoring distance LSU retook the lead with a 17-yard field goal from Jack Gonsoulin to put the Tigers up 17-14 with 2:03 left.

Then came the New Year’s Day heroics, as Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin earned Citrus Bowl MVP honors as he brought down a long pass from Book with one hand before breaking a pair of tackles for a 55-yard touchdown reception with 1:28 left. Yoon’s extra point provided the final margin of victory

“I mean, it was really almost just a blur. We talk about situations like this all the time and it’s not often that you get to be in one like this, remembered Boykin. “And so it was just an extremely humbling moment for me just to be able to go out there and help make a play to help my team win. I mean, we talk about how as a receiver, we’re play makers and winning the 50/50 ball — we talk about that every day. During that moment, I had to make the play. Otherwise, I didn’t know how the outcome was going to be. But Ian gave me a great ball and the coaches gave a great play and I was just able to make a play on it.”

It was the second consecutive bowl match-up with LSU that Notre Dame scored late to beat the Tigers. In 2014, Kyle Bridnza drilled a field goal as time expired to win the Music City Bowl, 31-28. That Music City Bowl and the Cotton Bowl victory over Houston on Jan. 1, 1978, are the only Irish postseason wins in which Notre Dame scored later in the game to win a bowl game.