SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Wake Forest wasn't good enough to overcome squandering three scoring chances against sixth-ranked Notre Dame, especially two from the 1-yard line.
The Demon Deacons (3-7) managed just one touchdown and fell to the Fighting Irish 28-7 Saturday despite holding Notre Dame to a season-low 282 yards total offense, 206 yards below its season average.
"We've got 31 freshmen and sophomores, and at times we play like a really young football team," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "Last year we were not very good, in a lot of ways not competitive. I think this year we're a lot more competitive in games. But against better football teams, we don't find ways to win, we find ways to lose."
Against the Irish, it was Tyler Bell being tackled for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1, quarterback John Wolford fumbling for an eight-yard loss from the 1-yard line, and a sack and personal foul penalty that pushed them back from the 11-yard line to the 33, leading to a missed 51-yard field goal attempt by Mike Weaver.
"We've just got to find a way to get a big win," Wolford said. "We just have to eliminate the stupid mistakes. That's how you win football games."
Josh Adams had a 98-yard touchdown run for the Irish and Notre Dame scored twice on both trips into the red zone and added another TD on a 28-yard interception return by Andrew Trumbetti.
Adams started in place of Notre Dame leading rusher C.J. Prosise, who was held out after sustaining a concussion last week, though coach Brian Kelly said he could have played. Adams, fourth on the Irish depth chart in the preseason, ran for 141 yards to post his second straight 100-yard game and third of the season. He moved into fifth place for most rushing yards by a Notre Dame freshman with 553.
After the Irish stopped Wake Forest on the 1-yard line in the second quarter, Adams had the longest scoring play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history. He took a handoff from DeShone Kizer, broke one tackle then stiff-armed defensive back Ryan Janvion and ran untouched the rest of the way up the right sideline for the 98-yard score.
"Obviously, the run was one for the highlight reel: Physical, explosive, sheds off a tackler," Kelly said. "Obviously a big play where we're backed up, and just a terrific run."
It was the longest running play in Notre Dame history, surpassing the 92-yard run by Bob Livingstone against USC in 1947. It's also the longest play from scrimmage ever for the Irish. The previous best was a 96-yard pass from Blair Kiel to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981.
It was the second touchdown run of at least 90 yards this season for Notre Dame. Prosise had a 91-yard score against Georgia Tech on Sept. 19. There had only been two TD runs that long in the previous 126 seasons of Notre Dame football.
"When I broke it, all I could see was (receiver) Chris Brown running down faster than I was down the sidelines, so I was like, "I gotta catch up.' He did a great job blocking downfield," Adams said.
Kizer added touchdown runs of 12 and five yards for the Irish (9-1, No. 4 CFP) and was 13 of 19 for 111 yards passing.
"The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it," Kelly said.
Kizer said it was frustrating that the Irish struggled, but said they have to take it as a positive.
"Now being off the field and realizing that it's November and we just came out with a 21-point win, it's huge for us," he said. "We're moving forward. We have a win streak going."
Wolford scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter for Wake Forest. He was 19 of 30 for 219 yards with one interception. Bell rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries.