CROWLEY — Facing a crucial third-and-10 while protecting a slim lead with two minutes remaining, Notre Dame quarterback Joe Faulk took matters into his own hands — or rather, his legs.
Faulk exploded for a 40-yard run through the Teurlings Catholic (2-1) defense, a huge conversion that allowed the Pios (3-0) to work out of the victory formation for the final ticks of an enormous 28-23 win.
“I think Joe grew up tonight,” Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook said. “To see him working the clock in his first year under the gun like he was, he seems to play better when there’s more on the line. That’s what I like about the kid.”
Faulk finished with 108 rushing yards on 24 carries and added a pair of scores and 82 yards passing, and his clutch play on third down was one of many that helped secure the Notre Dame win.
Earlier in that drive, facing a fourth-and-1 from the Pios 33, Cook opted to go for it on fourth down out of respect for Teurlings’ explosive offense.
“Whether you put them right there with that kind of time left, or you put them on their own 40 or 35, you’ve got to pick your poison,” Cook said.
The gamble paid off, as Hayden Bourgeois — in his first carry of the game — gained 2 yards to keep the ball away from the Rebels.
Keep away was the name of the game. The Pios ate up nearly three quarters of the total possession time while amassing 325 rushing yards. When they faced a third down, they usually converted, going 12-of-16, and they didn’t punt once.
It was a more frustrating night for Teurlings, which couldn’t get anything going against the Pios stout defense. Cook said his goal was to make the Rebels one-dimensional, and it worked. Quarterback Cole Kelley heaved 37 pass attempts, completing 13 for 153 yards.
Teurlings and Notre Dame traded punches back and forth in a brilliantly played first half that left the Rebels leading the Pios 17-14 at halftime. The two teams combined to punt just once, and both made the big plays when they counted.
Notre Dame scored first on an 8-yard strike from Faulk to Borill on third-and-goal. Borill beat his man on a slant and made a sliding touchdown grab on a low throw from Faulk.
But that was the only pass the Pios completed on a 15-play, 73-yard march down the field. Notre Dame ate up the Rebels defense 4 or 5 yards at a time on the ground, using four ball carriers to mash its way down the field.
Teurlings used an entirely different offensive philosophy. The Rebels turned to the strong armed Kelley and told him to fire at will against the Pios secondary — but it was still the ground game that got the Rebels going early.
Kelley picked up 4 yards on fourth-and-three to keep the Rebels drive alive, then running back Noah Harris beat the Pios defense to the edge and raced for 49 yards to set up a first-and-goal. Kelley eventually found Jansen Lormand for a 4-yard score to tie things up.
The two teams once again traded lengthy touchdown drives, with Notre Dame capping off an 11-play, 74-yard drive with another touchdown from Faulk to Borill, and the Rebels getting a 30-yard touchdown from Kelley to Holland Griffin on third-and-10 to knot the game at 14.
That back-and-forth trend was finally broken when Notre Dame’s Justin Guidry fumbled on the ensuing drive to set up a short field for Kelley and the Rebels. Kelley again came through in the clutch, with a 16-yard back-shoulder throw to Jacob Richard on fourth-and-13 to set up a Brayden Blanchard field goal.