CHARLESTON — The first half was a defensive battle, as neither team could muster much in the way of sustained drives. Both teams started the game with three and outs which included matching illegal blocking penalties nullifying gains.
On the first play of the Trojans’ second possession, Dalton Haworth was hit on a rush and fumbled with the Raiders recovering at the Charleston 43. Notre Dame would need just two plays capped by a 34-yard touchdown run by Dalton Venvertloh. The 57-yard conversion failed, giving the Raiders the early 6-0 lead.
The next Trojan drive got off to a good start when Alex Sweeny ran the kickoff 35-yards from his own 15 to midfield. However, there was another turnover on fourth and one when the Raiders' Johnny Ohnemus picked off a pass by Haworth at the Raider 41. The turnover did no damage as the Trojan defense forced another three and out.
Charleston got its longest drive of the half on the next to last possession when the Trojans started at their own 43 and drove to QND’s 27 before an incomplete pass ended the drive. Notre Dame’s best drive the rest of the half was the final one.
On the Raiders' final drive they hit a 26-yard field goal as time expired to go up 9-0. They started the drive at Charleston’s 35 following Haworth’s third interception of the half. They drove all the way to the two-yard line before a holding penalty and a sack by Brayden Doyle forced them back to the Trojan seventeen with just three seconds to go. However, the next pass was batted down but a pass interference penalty gave the Raiders a first and goal and a chance at the field goal to finish the half.
In the first half, Notre Dame found success on the ground rushing 18 times for 110 yards led by Venvertloh’s 14 carries and 113 yards. For the Trojans, they were led by Nick Sweeney’s 26 yards on eight carries. Charleston turned the ball over four times, two of which lead to the Raider scores.
The Trojans got a shot in the arm to start the second half, when Brayden Doyle recovered a fumble at the Raiders 26 giving the Trojans their best starting field position all game. Charleston took advantage, needing just four plays to punch in the score. They did it in a fitting way with Doyle who caused the turnover carrying the ball for 15 yards on fourth and one. The extra point was good, cutting the deficit to 9-7.
This was as close as they could get, however, as on the ensuing kickoff the Raiders, Jack Gilliland took the kick and ran it back for 81-yards and a score. After the extra point, it was back to a nine-point lead, 16-7.
After each team traded three and outs, a Charleston turnover led to another Notre Dame score. After a Haworth interception gave the Raiders the ball at their own two-yard line, QND went 98 yards in five plays, topped by a Johnny Ohnemus 40-yard touchdown run. After the extra point, it was 23-7.
Notre Dame added one more score, a Venvertloh touchdown run and failed two-point conversion making the final score 29-7, QND.
For the game, Venvertloh led the way for the Raiders with 21 carries and a180 yards, as well as two touchdowns. As a team, Notre Dame finished with 231 yards on the ground and 77 yards in the air.
Charleston was led by Sweeney with 38 yards on the ground, while Haworth threw for 81. A bright spot for the Trojans was the play of Brayden Doyle. He scored their lone touchdown on an impressive run and defensively was able to wreak havoc with a fumble recovery, a key sack in the first half, and big tackles for losses through the game.
Charleston coach Tyler Hanner praised Sweeney on his play, “That is something he has done since the start of last year. We didn’t know what we really had with him. This is his first year at running back, he is a downhill runner, still has some things to work on but the kid works hard, he is a blue-collar kid.”
Coach Hanner said about his senior class, “These are great kids, I would trust any of them with my kids. They are unbelievable kids. I don’t believe we had a single senior on the ineligible list, they are hard-working kids, these guys have never given up and I am proud of them for that.”