Let others figure out the playoff system, because all Notre Dame wants to do right now is play football.
That’s the consensus of Gary Gregory, after his Saints defeated Cactus Shadows, 34-6, in a Division II game on Thursday night. The game was halted for one hour in the first half because of lightning, and ended in a nasty combination of rain and hail.
Afterward, Gregory indicated he’s not sure where Notre Dame does or does not fit in the overall playoff picture, but, at this point, he’s not concerned. All he sees is a high energy level from his squad and willingness to strap it on and go after people.
In the process, Notre Dame utilized a strong running game and scored less then 2 minutes into the game. That’s when Jordan Schlueler scored on a 13-yard touchdown run to cap a three-play, 36-yard drive. From that point, the Saints scored touchdowns on two of their next three possessions and broke this one open by early in the second period.
“We wanted to run the ball and were able to do that,” Gregory said. “We’re playing good football right and our players just want to play. After we lost to Chaparral, they came in the next day ready to prepare for the next opponent. They didn’t care who played. These guys just want to play.”
Paced by senor running back Luke Taffuri, who finished with 156 yards on 21 carries and Schlueler’s 62 yards on 9 carries, Notre Dame managed to even its season mark to 4-4. With the defeat, Cactus Shadows fell to 2-6.
A favorite target of Falcons’ quarterback Bryce Kinsler, Gladstone remained on the sidelines because of a concussion. That did not prevent Kinsler from filling the air with footballs as he went 12-for-37 for 184 yards and two interceptions. Kinsler is 82 yards away from setting an all-time career record in Class 4A.
Kinsler ended the scoring for both teams when he scored on a 15 yard run with 2:40 remaining the game. With wet and windy conditions, Kinsler failed convert on five, fourth down opportunities, and that prevented Cactus Shadows from drawing close.
“We knew (Gladstone) was out but wanted to run the ball anyway and keep the ball out of (Kinsler’s hands), Gregory added. “In the end, we didn’t worry about conditions (postseason play) and just played football.”
For the game, Notre Dame picked up 238 yards on the ground on 43 carries while the Falcons managed a net of 46 yards on 24 carries.
Senior quarterback Nick Duckworth complemented the Saints’ running game by tossing two touchdown passes on a 4-for-9 night for 69 yards and two interceptions.
For Cactus Shadows, senior Mike Thompson paced the ground game with 48 yards on 10 carries.
Notre Dame 34, Cactus Shadows 6
First Downs 19 12
Rushing 43-238 24-46
Passing yards 69 180
Comp-Att-Int 6-9-2 37-12-2
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties 8-70 3-35
Notre Dame 14 14 13 0 - 34
Cactus Shadows 0 0 0 6 - 6
ND - Schlueter 13 run (Naquin kick)
ND - Cole 3 run (Naquin kick)
ND - Jones 31 pass from Duckworth (Naquin kick)
ND - Martinez 8 pass from Duckworth (Naquin kick)
ND - Naquin 31 FG
ND - Naquin 21 FG
CS - Kinsler 15 run (run failed)