Nick Chambers had the Friday night of his life.
And he didn't touch the football one time for Notre Dame. But he did rule as homecoming king at halftime of the Irish's 31-7 win over Bledsoe County on Friday night at Jim Eberle Field.
Teammate Taylor Bankston had a good night as well by scoring two touchdowns -- including a 90-yarder that was the Irish's second-longest of the night -- and gaining 127 yards on five carries.
Defenses controlled the first half with assistance from both offenses suffering ill-timed penalties.
Notre Dame amassed 184 yards in the first half, but 96 came on one play. Bledsoe gained 11 offensive yards with workhorse Holden Boynton carrying 13 times for 73 yards.
Notre Dame sophomore Josh Russell highlighted the first half with a 96-yard touchdown run on third down as the Irish were trying to get room for a punt. They got six points instead after he burst through the line and picked up two key blocks after crossing midfield.
Bledsoe popped the ball from Bankston on the Irish's next drive, setting it up 21 yards from the end zone. Bradley Smith covered the distance on two carries with the second coming from 6 yards out.
"They were stopping the pass and the run, and we had to find a way to establish the run," Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said. "That's all we focused on at halftime."
Compared to Russell's run, Taylor Bankston scored on a short burst. He covered only 90 yards on an inside trap to put Notre Dame ahead 14-7 in the third quarter.
"The players started telling us some of the plays they liked, and that was Taylor's," Fant said. "Taylor is one of our leaders and he had an unreal night.
"That play fired up our offense and our defense."
Irish senior Tim Barnes immediately followed with an interception and return to the 5-yard line. Kareem Orr scooted in from there on a toss left, allowing Notre Dame to score 14 points in 22 seconds.
Darris put ahead 24-7 with 8:04 to go on a 21-yard field goal. Bankston scored a 25-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach with less than six minutes to play.
"We kept digging ourselves in a hole," Bledsoe coach Jason Reel said. "We put ourselves in bad position."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...