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Nov. 17, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 50, 34 and 2 yards, Cierre Wood scored on a 68-yard run and third-ranked Notre Dame beat Wake Forest 38-0 Saturday to finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998 and keep its national championship hopes alive.
The Fighting Irish improved to 11-0 for the first time since 1989. The Demon Deacons (5-6) fell to 1-33 all-time against top 5 teams.
But Notre Dame players and coaches have said all along they are focused only on what they can control, and on Saturday they were in total control of Wake Forest. The Irish hadn't scored more than 20 points at home in regulation all season, but had 31 points at halftime behind Golson's 317 yards passing - which was 28 yards more than the season-high he had against Purdue.
Tanner Price was 22 of 33 passing for 153 yards for Wake Forest with his longest pass for 16 yards. The Irish held the Demon Deacons to 55 yards rushing.
After posting a 17-16 record at home the past five seasons, the Irish victory Saturday improved their record at Notre Dame Stadium to 6-0 this year. But this was the first time they made it look easy. The Irish needed overtime to beat Stanford, triple overtime to beat Pittsburgh and won the three other home games by a combined 13 points.
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The Irish took control from the start Saturday, with Wood taking a pitch from Golson and racing up the right sideline untouched for his 68-yard touchdown on the game's fourth play. Three plays later, Wake tailback Josh Harris caught a 13-yard pass but fumbled after a hard hit by Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese and safety Zeke Motta recovered. Harris, Wake Forest's leading rusher, didn't play the rest of the game.
A 20-yard run by Wood set up a 2-yard TD pass by Golson to Eifert. The Irish went ahead 21-0 on their next possession on a 50-yard pass by Golson to John Goodman.
Wake Forest wasn't able to stop the Irish until Golson made a bad decision, lofting a 24-yard pass into the end zone that was intercepted by cornerback Allen Ramsey II with 11:32 to go in the second quarter.
But Notre Dame quickly added a 34-yard TD pass to TJ Jones and a 25-yard field goal to take a 31-0 halftime lead. The 31 points were more than the Irish had scored at home all season. George Atkinson III added a nine-yard TD run in the third quarter.
The Irish have won eight straight games at home overall, but the only victories by more than a touchdown were the first win, a 56-14 win over Navy on Oct. 29, 2011, and the win Saturday.
The Deacons need to beat Vanderbilt in the season finale to become bowl eligible.