Over the course of his time with the Notre Dame Titans’ football program, Bob Ashley has always had the Titans fight to the very end — regardless of the chances that Notre Dame’s had to obtain victory.
Last Friday, those efforts paid off for the Titans as Notre Dame collected a 20-18 overtime victory over Millersport on the road — a monumental victory that could certainly provide a lift in morale and confidence for a young Titans’ team that will need plenty of it with its youth.
Could Notre Dame, however, make it two wins in a row with a roster that sits in the teens? It’s certainly a possibility.
With Fayetteville — a unit that edged Manchester by a scant 20-12 margin — awaiting the Titans on Friday, and a strong rushing attack that has already seen Ben Mader, Chase Matiz, and Logan Emnett excel behind an offensive line that is already showing promise, Notre Dame could very well be in line to collect its first home win of the season.
However, if the Titans are to emerge victorious on Friday evening, it will have to start with the offensive line, which has allowed the run-oriented Notre Dame offense to obtain a good amount of success on the ground this season.
Through its first pair of contests against Racine Southern and Millersport, respectively, Mader has proven to live up to the hype that Ashley and Co. believed that he would meet in 2017, as the junior tailback has rushed for 234 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries so far this season (an average of 7.3 yards per carry). The 6-1, 175-pound standout collected 173 of those yards in Friday’s victory over Millersport, in addition to rushing for a touchdown and recovering a fumble.
“Ben is ready to step in and be the next guy that’s going to carry the football for us here,” Notre Dame head coach Bob Ashley said in the 2017 Daily Times Fall Sports Preview. “He’s a big, strong, tough kid and we’re anxious to see exactly what he can do for us offensively. He showed a lot of promise last year.”
In addition to Mader’s efforts, Matiz proved to provide a huge lift for Notre Dame last week. The 5-11, 160-pound senior rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, picked off a pass, and also recovered a fumble that proved to be critical to the overall outcome.
“We should be pretty good in the defensive secondary,” Ashley said before the season. “We have Chase and Ben. We also have Caleb back there, and he’s looked pretty good this fall.”
However, when anyone mentions Notre Dame’s success, one can’t forget about the sacrifices and improvements that Logan Emnett has made despite being of freshman eligibility.
The fullback followed up a strong seven-carry, 58-yard performance against Racine Southern by grinding out 22 yards and a touchdown on six carries to collect 80 yards on 13 carries (6.2 yards per carry) over the first two weeks. To top that all off, Emnett rushed for the game-winning two-point conversion against Millersport to show off incredible poise and moxie with the game hanging in the balance.
The trio, along with the remaining members of the Titans’ roster, will look to continue that momentum on Friday against the Rockets at Spartan Stadium. Game time will be at 7 p.m.