On a cool and drizzling Easter weekend, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish traveled to the South Side of Chicago to compete against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a showcase at Brother Rice High School.
The Buckeyes entered the contest at 0-2 and were looking for their first victory over their Midwest rivals, who were coming off a tough loss to Davenport University and who were 1-2 on the season.
Ohio State came out strong early, dominating possession in the early goings of the game. The controlled the ball with tight forward play for the first 15 minutes of the game. But a costly mistake by the Buckeyes turned the ball over to the Irish. Notre Dame capitalized on their first play from scrimmage as David Penberthy squeaked through the Buckeye defense and found wing Dom Corsaro on the outside. Corsaro was tackled just short of the goal line, but the Irish forwards rumbled and dotted the ball over the line for the game’s first score.
From here the Irish used the favorable wind conditions to their advantage to pin the Buckeyes deep in their own half of the field. The forwards showed their prowess with their impressive lineouts and subsequent mauls which moved the ball down the field for the Irish. The ball was moved out and found crashing center Ryan Robinson, who added 5 for the Irish. Robert Manfreda added the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
The next break, by outside center Ryan Mitchell, came off of a lineout when he broke to the center of the field, where he offloaded to Penberthy who touched it down between the posts. Manfreda with the conversion made it 19-0.
The first points for the Buckeyes came after the Irish made some crucial mistakes and gave up yards due to a multitude of penalties. The Buckeyes were able to march down the field and received a penalty just inside the 22 directly in the center of the field. The Buckeye flyhalf slotted the kick and put them on the board for the first time. The score was 19-3 about midway through the first half.
The Buckeyes struggled to get through the staunch Irish defense in the first half, and the Irish continued to ramp up the pressure, forcing the Buckeyes into mistakes. One of those mistakes yielded another 7 points for the Irish as Manfreda caught the overthrown pass on a lineout and ran it the 10 meters to the tryzone. He converted his own try to put the Irish up 26-3, a score that held until halftime.
Immediately following the halftime restart, the Irish continued to attack and put pressure on the Buckeyes. This time great hands and quick ball movement found 8-man Tom Hickey on the outside who shrugged off a couple of would-be tacklers and took it the length of the field to extend the Irish lead. Manfreda slotted the conversion to make it 33-3.
The Irish would continue to press on in attack, however as the wind speed began to pick up, Ohio State began to utilize it to their advantage. Their ability to pin the Irish deep in their own 22, coupled with Irish mistakes around the contact area with mishandled ball and sloppy passes, allowed the Buckeyes to score their first try. The Irish were unable to recover and clear the ball effectively and Ohio State continued to take advantage of their stellar starting field position. They mashed the ball down the field with their forwards and found a number of small holes in the Irish defense. While the effort was there for the Buckeyes, they were unable to make up the large deficit that they had accrued in the first half. They fell short of the mark to the Irish by a score of 38-27 after a final score for ND by Rich Kessler.
The Irish improve to 2-2 and will face a young Wheeling Jesuit squad next weekend in South Bend.
Notre Dame officials thanked Ohio State for making the trip to Chicago for the special game, and for David Fee and the Brother Rice High School for hosting the game.
For a full view of the match click the video below.