(Updates to include Notre Dame receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s updated quotes).
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Notre Dame’s quarterback rivalry was over. Derek Barnett did the rest.
Barnett passed for two touchdowns and two more interceptions as the Fighting Irish beat Syracuse 44-20 Friday in one of the season’s most anticipated showdowns.
Barnett had an impressive debut against Georgia Tech, but it took him a quarter to find his rhythm against the Orange. He was sacked four times — three of those in the first quarter — as the Orange came away with two field goals.
Then, Barnett got rolling. He started the second quarter with an 11-yard TD pass to Jafar Armstrong and hit a slant to Miles Boykin for a 60-yard score to make it 24-7. Barnett hit McAllister Nelson for a 5-yard score on the opening drive of the second half to make it 31-7 and capped the scoring with a 34-yard TD pass to Daelin Hayes.
Equanimeous St. Brown finished with 128 yards receiving, including an 80-yard catch to set up Brian Kelly’s first touchdown of the season.
“I was just trying to go out there and get my team in the end zone and get us going and start a drive,” Barnett said.
Notre Dame finished with 576 yards.
Michael Love had a 45-yard touchdown run and Brandon Berry booted three field goals for the Irish (2-1), who played down their traditional quarterback rivalry with Alabama and invited Wolfpack and Irish fans from both schools to cheer on their favorite team.
“It was good for our fan base,” Kelly said. “It did get the campus real excited. We had a great crowd. Good bonding between these two schools for what it is.”
Notre Dame: Kelly has a dynamic quarterback (Barnett) who could be a handful for the Irish’s future opponents. Syracuse has to figure out how to stop teams like this. It’s only happened one other time in the last 20 seasons — Alabama rallied from 19 points down at Syracuse on Aug. 31. The Irish had 376 yards rushing on Saturday, their most since winning the BCS national championship over Alabama in January.
Syracuse: The Orange are starting to look more like the team that won the ACC’s Coastal Division in 2016 than the team that went 2-10 overall and 0-9 in the Atlantic Division last season. The offense must find a way to get its wideouts involved in the passing game. Frank Philips had a 2-yard TD run and Eric Dungey was 14 of 25 for 277 yards.
ANIMATED DRAMA: Syracuse tight end Ravian Pierce lost his cool late in the third quarter after one of his teammates tackled him at the Notre Dame 33. Pierce kicked the turf as the officials watched in a timeout, drew a personal foul penalty and went to the coaches’ box in what looked like one of the more unhinged moments of the season. Porter tried to attack the referees, who then led Pierce away from the bench. He then rammed the side of the officials’ box as he was escorted to the sideline. Officials grabbed him by the jersey and dragged him off the field.
“He acted like a child, I’m not going to lie,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “I don’t know what was on his mind. He was making a comment toward the officials. … All I know is, he deserved it. It was unacceptable, I mean, five flags were thrown on the play.”
POWER OF A GIFT: Kelly had given an unofficial donation to the Syracuse athletic department before kickoff that was matched by former Orange great Frank Lewis — maybe the greatest tight end of all time. At one point, Kelly was presented the gift from Lewis and said to him: “I just want to say how blessed I am to have that connection with Frank Lewis. He’s really done a lot for my career and my life in a variety of different capacities. He truly is a friend and he’s very special and I’m really happy to have his contribution to me and to the athletic department.”
Notre Dame: The Irish get a chance to settle in and see what their two starting quarterbacks can do against the Irish defense when they face Central Florida next Saturday.
Syracuse: The Orange have to get back on track. They travel to Florida Atlantic to play the Owls next Saturday.
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