Sam Hartman shines in farewell victory against his former team, leading Notre Dame to 45-7 win

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sam Hartman was not looking for vengeance or vindication, he left Wake Forest on amicable terms. But he got vengeance and vindication anyway, along with a victory and a fond memory to end his one-year career at Notre Dame Stadium, throwing four touchdown passes in a 45-7 win against his former team.

Hartman found running back Devyn Ford entirely uncovered near the end of the first quarter for a 12-yard touchdown, an important moment only in that it eased any stresses that may have come when the Demon Deacons strung together a quick scoring drive to start the second quarter.

Wake Forest (4-7) had totaled a loss of four yards in the first quarter before gaining 71 yards on six plays to start the second quarter and tie the game at seven.

Hartman and the No. 19 Irish (8-3) never looked back. He found sophomore Tobias Merriweather for an explosive touchdown on the next drive, a rare moment of Merriweather finding his footing this season. A fumble forced by fifth-year linebacker JD Bertrand to start the second half immediately led to a 19-yard score to sophomore tight end Eli Raridon. And to cap the day's scoring, Hartman connected with freshman Jaden Greathouse for a 48-yard catch-and-run tally.

Those three touchdowns, in particular, underscored Notre Dame's offensive struggles this season, Merriweather the embodiment of inconsistency, Raridon gradually returning from an ACL torn last October and Greathouse either sidelined or slowed for the last six games by a nagging hamstring. With them upright and fleet of foot, Hartman nearly matched his last six games of scores (five touchdowns) in just one afternoon.

He finished 21-of-29 for 277 yards with those four touchdowns, serenaded by the Notre Dame Stadium video board with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" as he ceded the offense to sophomore quarterback Steve Angeli early in the fourth quarter. In Hartman's six games at Notre Dame Stadium, he completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 9.8 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions, averaging 231.7 yards per game.

But perhaps more impressively, Notre Dame's defense shut down the Deacons aside from that one-minute lapse to start the second quarter, otherwise holding Wake Forest to 3.18 yards per play until garbage time. Even when a questionable tackle caused Rico Flores to fumble within scoring range for the Deacons, the Irish defense forced a three-and-out. Wake Forest's first four drives of the second half averaged 3.5 yards per play, when moving the chains only barely doing so.

First Quarter
0:54 — Notre Dame touchdown. Devyn Ford 12-yard pass from Sam Hartman. Spencer Shrader point after. Notre Dame 7, Wake Forest 0. (9 plays, 71 yards, 4:41)

Second Quarter
11:41 — Wake Forest touchdown. Tate Carney 9-yard rush. Matthew Dennis point after. Notre Dame 7, Wake Forest 7. (7 plays, 72 yards, 4:07)
7:06 — Notre Dame touchdown. Tobias Merriweather 35-yard pass from Hartman. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 14, Wake Forest 7. (8 plays, 66 yards, 4:28)
0:05 — Notre Dame field goal. Shrader 37 yards. Notre Dame 17, Wake Forest 7. (10 plays, 51 yards, 1:30)

Third Quarter
14:09 — Notre Dame touchdown. Eli Raridon 19-yard pass from Hartman. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 24, Wake Forest 7. (1 play, 19 yards, 0:07)
5:22 — Notre Dame touchdown. Audric Estimé 2-yard rush. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 31, Wake Forest 7. (5 plays, 54 yards, 2:07)

Fourth Quarter
13:24 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jaden Greathouse 48-yard pass from Hartman. Sharder point after. Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 7. (5 plays, 80 yards, 2:03)
3:56 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jordan Faison from Steve Angeli. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 45, Wake Forest 7.

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