Fighting Irish beat Beavers 40-8 in 2023 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Opt outs and transfer portal additions didn’t seem to matter to Notre Dame quarterback Steve Angeli. He put on a clinic of efficiency and toughness to lead the Fighting Irish to a 40-8 win over the Oregon State Beavers in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl on Friday in El Paso, Texas.

Quarterback Steve Angeli looks for an open receiver. Photo by AJ Houk.

No. 16 Notre Dame improved to 10-3 on the season, and head Coach Marcus Freeman improved to 2-1 in bowl games, leading the Fighting Irish.    

“(Steve Angeli responded) the way I knew he would,” Freeman said. “He’s resilient, he’s prepared and he’s ready for this opportunity. He went out and showed that he can be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.

News of Sam Hartman opting out of the Sun Bowl to declare for the NFL draft and Riley  Leonard coming to South Bend via the transfer portal couldn’t stop Angeli from making a strong case to keep the QB1 spot.  

Angeli credited his dominant performance to pretty much everyone but himself. 

“This is a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Angeli said. “But it’s really not about me. It’s about the rest of these guys, the guys up front, the guys around me, my receivers, Coach Freeman, Coach Gino and everyone that’s been in my corner nurturing me, especially Sam Hartman. He’s done a great job teaching me the ways to take advantage of this opportunity.

“I’m just so proud of this team,” Angeli said. “There’s no better way to finish than with a win.”

Photo by AJ Houk.

Angeli’s first pass of the game was a 55-yard completion to a wide open Jordan Faison. Angeli capped Notre Dame’s opening drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass, his first of three in the game, to Jayden Thomas. Angeli finished his day, completing 15 of 19 passes for 232 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Irish out-gained Oregon State 448-197 in total yards of offense.

Not recorded on the stat sheet was Angeli hurdling an Oregon State tackler on one drive and lowering his shoulder to flatten a defensive back on another. One of his few mistakes, Angeli did fumble the football on the hurdle attempt when it was punched out of his arms, but an Irish offensive lineman recovered the fumble. 

Faison showcased his speed and agility, making him Angeli’s favorite target. He spun his way and fought down inside the 10-yard line to setup Notre Dame’s opening touchdown then later spun his way through a Oregon State tackler to get into the end zone. Faison turned in a career day, catching five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame running back Jadarian Price (24), offensive lineman Pat Coogan. Photo by AJ Houk.

Jadarian Price handled the bulk of the rushing duties. Price picked up 106 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, including breaking off a 54-yard run in the fourth quarter. Jeremiyah Love ran for 39 yards on 15 carries and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. 

Senior running back Chase Ketterer got in on the scoring action, taking a handoff from quarterback Kenny Minchey and running up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown with 2:45 left in the game.   

The Fighting Irish defense was as stingy as It’s been all season, holding Oregon State to just two yards rushing and 197 yards of total offense. The defensive line forced the first safety in the Sun Bowl since 2013 when JD Bertrand and Josh Burnham hit running back Isaiah Newell just inside the goal line to give Notre Dame a 26-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

Benjamin Morrison intercepted a Hail Mary pass from Beavers quarterback Ben Gulbranson to end the first half and preserve a 14-0 Notre Dame lead. Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Howard Cross III and Jordan Botelho each recorded sacks, and Xavier Watts and Jack Kiser combined for a fourth sack. 

Oregon State hadn’t converted on third down until late in the fourth quarter when the Beavers picked up a first down on their ninth third-down attempt. a few plays later, Gulbranson threw to Jimmy Valsin III for 33 yard TD with 6:02 left. Offensive lineman Tyler Voltin went in at running back and got into the end zone for a two-point conversion to make it 33-8.

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