SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Sam Hartman passed for 194 yards and two touchdowns and Notre Dame’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown for a second straight game as the No. 13 Irish beat Tennessee State 56-3 on Saturday.
It was the first time Notre Dame played a program from the historical Black college and university ranks or an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Hartman completed 14 of 17 passes and delighted the Notre Dame Stadium fans in his home debut when he somersaulted into the end zone on a 5-yard run.
Hartman turned things over to backup Steve Angeli with the Irish leading 35-3 early in the third quarter.
“He was good. He was really good. Not perfect,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said. “Six years, man. That experience is so important. He’s a heck of a football player.
“Sam Hartman helps, but I think the depth on our offense and those skill positions show,” Freeman added.
Tennessee State coach Eddie George said that Hartman was surgical.
“You saw his presence in the pocket … unflappable,” George said. “The guy is a magician back there.”
Audric Estime ran 13 times for 116 yards and a touchdown. His longest run went for 50 yards and set up Hartman’s leaping touchdown.
Notre Dame opened the scoring on Jeremiyah Love’s zig-zagging 36-yard run.
Notre Dame rolled up 557 yards of total offense while limiting Tennessee State to 156 yards (55 came on the Tigers’ opening drive).
The Irish’s defense has not allowed a touchdown over eight quarters. They gave up only a field goal to Navy in a 42-3 win in Ireland last week. Tennessee State’s only scoring came on a field goal in the first quarter.
Clarence Lewis capped the defensive effort with a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Tennessee State was within 7-3 after James Lowery’s 38-yard field goal. The Tigers recovered a fumble at the Notre Dame 12 on the kickoff, but couldn’t cash in as Jason Onye blocked a 29-yard field-goal attempt.
“We knew, on the field, what the task was at hand,” George said. “It was a tall feat, but we accepted the challenge. I’m really proud of our young men. I told each one of them I loved them.”
Freeman said that he and the Irish were honored to take the field against Tennessee State.
“To be the first (Notre Dame) team to play, not only an FCS opponent and HBCU, it’s really important,” Freeman said. “It’s humbling, especially being an African-American head coach. This is what you want for college football. As I told coach George after the game, I’m honored to be part of this game.”
George said he hopes his team’s game at Notre Dame can lead to more opportunities for HBCU teams.
“It’s great exposure,” George said. “It was a great environment. This is something our kids will talk about for a lifetime.”
MAKING AN IMPACT
Hartman is 33-of-40 passing for 445 yards and six TDs (no interceptions) in his two games for Notre Dame.
Hartman added to his FBS leading numbers in several categories for active quarterbacks. The Wake Forest graduate transfer has 116 career touchdowns, 13,412 passing yards and a 36-game streak of being responsible for at least one TD.
Hartman demonstrated his command of a quick-strike offense when he engineered a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive in 38 seconds before halftime. Hartman carved up the Tennessee State defense when he hit passes on all six plays of the drive that ended with Holden Staes' 4-yard catch.
Notre Dame kick returner Devyn Ford left in the first quarter after getting hit in the forehead by Zachery Drake. Ford didn't return.
Notre Dame could get closer to the top 10 after its convincing win. High stakes matchups in coming weeks at North Carolina State and at home against Ohio State will be measuring-stick games.
Notre Dame: visits NC State next Saturday.
Tennessee State: plays Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll