EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Everett Golson completed 25 straight passes, setting a Notre Dame record, and threw for four touchdowns to lead the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish to a 31-15 victory against Syracuse on Saturday night.
Golson’s record-breaking game was far from perfect. The quarterback threw his first two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by Durell Eskridge. He fumbled the ball away deep in Syracuse territory and bumbled an attempt to spike the ball late in the first half to stop the clock into another giveaway.
A total of five turnovers by the Irish (4-0) allowed Syracuse (2-3) to linger. Terrel Hunt’s 7-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter cut the lead to 21-9.
Golson came right back with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Torii Hunter Jr., son of the major league outfielder. Golson was 32 for 39 for a career-best 362 yards, coming one completion short of matching the FBS record for consecutive completions in a game set by Dominique Davis in 2011 with East Carolina.
Corey Robinson, the son of former San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson, caught eight passes for 91 yards a touchdown.
Syracuse has tried to turn MetLife Stadium into a home-away-from-home, but it’s not working out so well for the university that calls itself New York’s college team.
The Orange have played Southern California, Penn State and Notre Dame at the home of the Jets and Giants over the past three seasons, and lost each time. They return to the Swamps of Jersey in 2016 to take on the Irish again.
The Irish and Orange are now conference mates of sorts. Notre Dame competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference for everything but football, and has a scheduling agreement with the league to play five of its teams per season.
This game scheduled years ago was the first of those ACC games for the Irish, who were never really tested by the Orange.
The Irish’s fourth turnover, a fumble by Greg Bryant inside the Syracuse 30 late in the third quarter, led to the Orange’s first touchdown. After Hunt’s TD run, Jarron Jones blocked the extra point for the Irish.
A nice start to the season has had Golson popping up in the Heisman Trophy discussion, for what it’s worth in September. This uneven performance in a win probably didn’t hurt the cause too much. Golson had two turnovers in the first quarter, losing a fumble after a nifty scramble and throwing an interception on a pass that sailed badly.
The junior got it together in the second quarter. Zipping quick screens from side to side and working underneath, he directed a 95-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 23-yard pass to Will Fuller, who cut his way into the end zone to make it 7-0.
Golson showed off his long-range game next possession. Fuller beat cornerback Corey Winfield to the inside on a post and Golson hit the receiver in stride. Fuller skipped past the end-zone pylon for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
Fuller had six catches for 119 yards.
After a Syracuse field goal, the Irish had a chance to add to the lead with a late first-half score, but Golson bobbled the ball away while trying to kill the clock with a spike. He slapped the ball to the ground and it bounced a few yards away with most of the players just standing around, watching it roll. Syracuse’s Julian Whigham raced in, picked the ball up and took off toward the end zone.
Syracuse thought it had a fumble return for a touchdown. Notre Dame figured it was an incomplete pass.
After a review, the officials split the difference. Golson’s goof was ruled a fumble, but because officials had blown the play dead the ball was given to the Orange with no advancement.
Syracuse coach Scott Shafer was less than thrilled with the call, telling ESPN at halftime his team needed to beat “the luck of the Irish.”
The officiating was far from Syracuse’s biggest problem. The Irish outgained the Orange 311-142 in the half.