Auston Banks had the game of his life Thursday night at Boyd-Buchanan's David L. Boyd Field.
Rushing for 306 yards on 29 carries, the Fighting Irish junior scored a couple of touchdowns and was more than enough to lead once-beaten Notre Dame past the host Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers by a 26-0 final.
The Fighting Irish dominated in every aspect of the game.
Clay Heltzel did an outstanding job filling in for starting quarterback Alex Darras, who is still sidelined with a bum knee, but all the stocky senior had to do was give number 6 the ball and Banks did the rest.
Banks piled up 161 yards on just 17 carries in the first half as the Fighting Irish carried a 12-0 lead into the dressing room at the break.
He never got tired in the second half and even appeared to be picking up more steam as the game progressed with 145 additional yards on just a dozen carries. Two of those attempts were TD runs of 6 and 45 yards.
"I couldn't have done it without my offensive line, but I have to thank the big man upstairs," the 5-8, 175-pound standout said once the game ended.
"I'm a track guy, so I didn't get tired, but I've been working hard to be a more explosive back and I guess it paid off," he added.
"Auston was tremendous as he was a man on a mission. He was ready for a breakout performance," praised Notre Dame head coach Charles Fant.
"I thought Clay handled himself well at quarterback and the only pass he had intercepted was thrown in the right place, but the receiver ran the wrong route. He was going to be our starting fullback, but he's come in and done a wonderful job at quarterback.
"The thing I'm most disappointed in is the number of penalties and mistakes we made that killed good drives. But I'm more than excited about our defense. That's where we're playing great right now, but we're just trying to evolve with the players we have," Fant added.
Notre Dame's offense was indeed impressive with 488 today yards, including 384 on the ground and another 104 through the air.
While Auston Banks was the leader with 306 yards, younger brother Andrew was also a force as the diminutive freshman picked up 75 yards on just three trips, including a 53-yarder late in the game.
Heltzel completed 11 of 21 passes for 104 yards, including six completions for 60 yards to Kareem Orr and one of 26 yards to Joe Enos.
Defensively for the Irish, Kesley Green and Jared Andrews both had an interception while Brandon Harris, Chris Hornsby, Robert Kidwell and Joe Dossett all had tackles for losses.
Boyd-Buchanan finished with 128 total yards, including 110 through the air and just 18 on the ground.
Quarterback Jim Cardwell completed 14 of 27 passes, including four for 61 yards to Chris Lyon and five for 34 yards to Damaris Macon.
Backup quarterback Cooper Hodge was the leading rusher for the Bucs with 44 yards on six carries late in the game.
Defensive standouts for Boyd-Buchanan included Brogen Baker with an interception and Carter Broome with a pair of fumble recoveries.
Buccaneer head coach Grant Reynolds wasn't in the best of moods when the shutout ended.
"It was a bad night for us as Notre Dame has a good football team," he began inside the Buccaneer dressing room.
"Like I said, they have a good football team," he snapped when asked what went wrong for his team.
Heltzel scored the game's first touchdown on a keeper from the 4 on the second play of the second quarter while a pass from Heltel to Kareem Orr covered 7 yards for the second TD with four minutes to play in the half.
Banks had a 5-yard scamper with 5:28 to play in the third while his 45-yarder with 8:03 left in the game was the final TD of the evening.
Michael Quatrano converted the final two extra-point kicks.
Notre Dame finished with a 21-8 advantage in first downs.
Notre Dame, now 3-1 with three straight wins, will travel to Pikeville next Friday to face the Bledsoe County Warriors while 1-3 Boyd-Buchanan has next week off before a road trip to Donelson Christian on Sept. 27.
PERHAPS THE HIGHLIGHT of the night for the Buccaneers came before the opening kickoff when members of the 2003 state championship football team were introduced.
Notre Dame 0 12 7 7 -- 26
Boyd-Buchanan 0 0 0 0 -- 0
ND -- Clay Heltzel 4 run (kick failed), 11:27 left in second;
ND -- Kareem Orr 7 pass from Heltzel (kick blocked), 4:00 left in second;
ND -- Auston Banks 5 run (Michael Quatrano kick), 5:28 left in third;
ND -- Auston Banks 45 run (Quatrano kick), 8:03 left in fourth.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)