SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame took a 14-10 lead over USC at halftime Saturday night after an uneven opening half for the Irish.TJ Jones gave Notre Dame its lead with an acrobatic 11-yard touchdown catch with 1:13 to play in the first half. The senior had to be attended to two plays before the scoring catch, and it marked the fourth straight game he scored a touchdown.
But before Jones’ late TD grab, there wasn’t much for the Irish to be happy about on offense.
Notre Dame opened the game by driving 71-yards to USC’s 1, only for running back Cam McDaniel to be denied a TD on four straight runs.
The Irish did get a 7-yard touchdown catch by tight end Troy Niklas at the end of the first quarter to tie the game at 7, but the offense was dormant for most of the second quarter.
Notre Dame got only 24 yards on its first two drives of the second quarter, but the defense didn’t allow USC to take advantage of the offensive struggles.
The Irish stopped the Trojans’ first drive of the quarter at Notre Dame’s 22, and USC kicker Andre Heidari missed a 40-yard field goal.
After the Irish went three-and-out, USC’s Nelson Anholor had a 48-yard punt return that gained five more yards when Notre Dame was called for illegal formation. That put the Trojans on the Irish’s 20.
But Notre Dame held USC to a 22-yard field goal from Heidari to keep its deficit to 10-7 with 7:50 to play in the first half.
The Irish gained 248 yards in the opening half with quarterback Tommy Rees completing 12 of 18 passes for 148 yards. Cam McDaniel ran for 83 yards on 11 carries, and he had runs of 24 and 36 yards on the drive that ended with Jones’ touchdown.
USC gained 209 yards in the opening half with quarterback Cody Kessier completing 9 of 16 passes for 94 yards. Trojans running back Silas Redd, who is playing in his second game after missing the first five with a knee injury, ran for 91 yards on 14 carries and scored on a 1-yard run in the opening quarter.