Jaleel McLaughlin’s 2-yard touchdown with just over a minute to play secured a Notre Dame 24-21 victory over Fairmont State on Thursday night at Duvall-Rosier Field.
Notre Dame (6-0, 6-0) overcame a halftime deficit for the third-straight week to remain unbeaten on the season. Fairmont State dropped to 4-2 on the year (3-2 in the MEC).
After trailing 14-3 at the half, NDC managed to grab the lead at 17-14 early in the fourth quarter after rushing touchdowns from McLaughlin and Vasean Davis. Fairmont State’s Takwan Crews-Naylor responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Lewis to put the Fighting Falcons back in front with 9:03 to go.
Notre Dame drove the ball deep into Fairmont State territory and had to go for it fourth down, but Chris Brimm’s pass was intercepted at the one allowing FSU to take over. NDC was able to get a stop on defense with time winding down to force a Fairmont State punt. The snap was bobbled on the punt which allowed Notre Dame to take over at Fairmont State’s 5-yard line.
FSU kept Notre Dame out of the end zone on its first three tries, but a pass interference penalty on fourth down gave NDC new life. McLaughlin then took the ball in on his 41st carry of the night for the go-ahead score with 1:33 left in the game.
Fairmont State was unable to pick up a first down on its next possession and NDC took over and took a knee to seal the victory.
McLaughlin, the NCAA leader in rushing, added 194 more yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Chris Brimm was limited to just 13-of-30 passing for 142 yards and was intercepted twice.
Notre Dame ran 86 plays and had 377 yards of total offense with 25 first downs on the night. Fairmont State had 58 plays and 288 yards of total offense.
Khalik Hamlin had 85 yards rushing and one touchdown for FSU. Crews-Naylor ended the night 6-of-21 for 171 yards with the one touchdown. Antonio Harris was one of four Fairmont State players with double-digit tackles with 12. Josh Ballard had 11 stops, including a .5 sack.