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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 01, 2017 1:00 am

Notebook: Martini savors first INT

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND — Just like that, the wait ended for senior linebacker Greer Martini.

The interception tally for the first 42 games of Martini's career at Notre Dame: zero. His total three snaps into Saturday's 52-17 win over Miami (Ohio): one.

"I love having the ball in my hand, but that was just the first time in college I had the opportunity," Martini said. "I couldn't even tell you what was going on. It was almost like I blacked out."

Martini made a reaching grab of an errant Gus Ragland pass on the RedHawks' first drive, sending Notre Dame Stadium into a sudden uproar.

"I knew I had to be inside (the receiver)," Martini said. "The ball ended up being thrown there. Right spot at the right time."

Martini weaved through Miami's offensive players and returned the interception 42 yards to the RedHawks' 36-yard line.

"Maybe one or two (missed chances) but this was the first one I really had with the ball in the air where I could make a play on it," Martini said. "As a defensive player, for at least a linebacker, you don't get that many opportunities at it, so it was like the Holy Grail for me to have the ball in my hands, and then it was just about trying to get as many yards as I could.

"I saw a bunch of white jerseys to the right side, so I knew I had to cut it back. I've had a couple this season (in practice)."

Teammates teased Martini, telling him he should have reached the end zone.

"I've got to watch it to see," Martini said.

Ragland, a junior, had been picked off only three times in 324 career attempts entering the game.

"I had no idea," Martini said. "That's pretty cool."

Running backs OK: Josh Adams appeared to tweak his leg in the first half and sat out the second. Second-string back Dexter Williams (ankle) did not play at all, and third-stringer Tony Jones Jr. also came away with nicks and bruises. That's why No. 4 back Deon McIntosh had the opportunity to rack up 12 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. Irish coach Brian Kelly is not concerned.

"Josh could have played," Kelly said. "His ankle was not a serious situation, but we didn't want to put him in harm's way. Tony wasn't ruled out of the game, so we just felt like we would run with Deon and just be safe. We expect each back next week. Josh should be full go, and I think Tony gets this week to really get back to 100 percent, so I feel good going into next week."

Still perfect: The Irish have come away with at least a field goal on each of their 22 trips to the red zone this season.