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Notre Dame followed its first losing football season since 2011 with a 33-0 win at Central on Friday night in both teams' season opener.

While debuting a new starting quarterback, the Fighting Irish racked up five touchdowns on almost 300 yards of offense, while the defense limited the Purple Pounders to fewer than 10 first downs and forced five turnovers.

"We were 0-9 last year. It was such a tough season. So many of our kids fought hard and were so resilient, and to get this first win is a big deal for us," Charles Fant said after earning his 70th career victory as head coach of the Irish. "I don't coach for wins, I coach to develop young men, and so many of these players played through that last year and it has made us stronger."

After punting on the first possession of the season, Notre Dame switched to an attack that featured quick, short passes that flew all over the field and marched toward the end zone. The first score by the Irish came when quarterback Brinson Bennett traded in the short pass for a 30-yard rope to Eric Linsdey that went down to Central's 1-yard line before Alex Osbourne scored a touchdown on a run two plays later.

The next possession included another long pass from Bennett, only this time it found receiver George Fillauer for a 30-yard touchdown.

"We have a linebacker playing quarterback. We love his aggressiveness, and we just have to teach him to let the game come to him," Fant said. "He threw so many amazing passes and made great plays for someone who's never done this before."

Shortly into the second quarter, the Irish notched their third touchdown drive in a row when a reverse play to Fillauer ended up in the arms of Osbourne via a pass for a 57-yard score and a 26-0 lead after a failed PAT. A 2-yard scoring pass from Bennett to Lindsey closed out the scoring before the defense finished the shutout.

"Last year was new water for us. We've never been there before after averaging nine or 10 wins a year," Fant said. "We're returning 17 starters who are ready to prove themselves, and tonight it showed."

Contact John Mitchell at sports@timesfreepress.com.

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