Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) October 28, 2017
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Running back Josh Adams rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown as No. 9 Notre Dame rolled past No. 14 North Carolina State 35-14 on Saturday.
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Fighting Irish won for the sixth straight time, improving to 7-1 and remaining in the College Football Playoff conversation.
The Wolfpack (6-2) saw their winning streak snapped at six games, struggling to mount consistent offense to match Notre Dame.
An offensive line bookended by tackles Mike McGlinchey and Tommy Kraemer helped open holes for the Notre Dame rushing attack, which struck early, persistently and at opportune times, gaining 318 yards on 54 attempts.
Notre Dame's third-quarter defensive heroics shifted the complexion of a game after the Fighting Irish led 21-14 at halftime. With the Wolfpack driving inside Fighting Irish territory, cornerback Julian Love intercepted N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley and weaved 69 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 12:05 left in the quarter.
Finley had thrown 339 consecutive passes without an interception before Love dashed in front of a pass intended for Kelvin Harmon and scampered for his second interception return touchdown of 2017.
The Wolfpack marched to the Notre Dame 6-yard line on the ensuing possession but were stopped on a fourth-and-1 when defenders Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Te'von Coney stopped H-back Jaylen Samuels for a loss of 1. Adams broke the game open later in the quarter, scoring a 77-yard touchdown at the 4:11 mark, his seventh run of at least 60 yards this season.
Samuels gained 39 yards of total offense on 10 touches. Wolfpack running back Nyheim Hines left the game in the first quarter with an apparent ankle injury after rushing twice for 6 yards. Finley was 17 for 37 passing for 213 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
North Carolina State opened the scoring with 10:05 remaining in the first quarter. James Smith-Williams blocked Tyler Newsome's punt in the end zone, and Wolfpack linebacker Germaine Pratt pounced on the ball for a special teams touchdown.
Notre Dame responded almost immediately. Adams rushed for 35 yards before Wimbush connected with tight end Durham Smythe for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The Fighting Irish needed just 29 seconds to cover 60 yards, tying the game at the 9:36 mark of the first quarter.
The Wolfpack grabbed a 14-7 lead with 14:48 left in the second quarter as Finley found wide receiver Kelvin Harmon for 15-yard touchdown. The Fighting Irish pulled even with 9:37 to play in the quarter, with Wimbush scoring on a 3-yard run. It was his 11th rushing touchdown this season, setting a school record for quarterbacks.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Wimbush to Kevin Stepherson gave the Fighting Irish a 21-14 lead with 5:30 remaining before halftime. The play initially was ruled an incomplete pass, but replays revealed that Stepherson landed with his left foot inbounds amid tight coverage from cornerback Nick McCloud.
NOTES: LB Germaine Pratt became the first North Carolina State defensive player to score multiple touchdowns in a season since David Amerson in 2011. ... Notre Dame LB Greer Martini returned to the lineup after missing last week's game against USC with a meniscus injury. ... The Fighting Irish and Wolfpack met for the first time at Notre Dame Stadium and third overall.