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Notre Dame survives Gator Bowl with 45-38 victory over South Carolina

The Fighting Irish won a barnburner in Jacksonville on Friday.

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2022 Gator Bowl turned into a barnbarner and it was Marcus Freeman’s crew from South Bend, IN, who ended up getting the job done.

The No. 21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish took down the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks in a 45-38 victory at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL, on Friday, a battle that took several turns throughout the afternoon. With the game tied 38-38 late, ND quarterback Tyler Buchner marched his team down the field and hit Mitchell Evans for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:38 left to put them on top.

South Carolina jumped out to a quick start to kick things off and held control in the first half. Leading 14-7, DQ Smith would pick off Buchner and house it 47 yards for a pick-six. The two teams would trade field goals in the second quarter before a 75-yard Buchner home run play to Logan Diggs brought Notre Dame to within a touchdown before the half.

The two teams would trade touchdowns in the third quarter before a 44-yard Buchner strike to Braden Lenzy tied the game 31-31 just before the start of the fourth quarter. After forcing a Gamecocks punt to start the final period, the Irish would pull off some trickeration when successfully gaining 20-yards off a fake punt on 4th and 4. Three plays later, Diggs would house a 38-yard touchdown run to give Notre Dame its first lead of the ballgame.

However, South Carolina would soon respond in a big way. With the Notre Dame offense driving deep into Gamecock territory on its next drive, SCar defensive back O’Donnell Fortune picked off Buchner and took it back 100 yards for a game-tying pick six. It was on the following drive where Buchner would hook up with Evans for the go-ahead score.

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler would give one last ditch effort to get his team back on the board, but ultimately came up short as Notre Dame capped the first year of the Freeman era with a ninth victory.