St. Pete’s Tony Jones Jr. Helps Lead Notre Dame Past Iowa State

Notre Dame running back Tony Jones Jr. set a school bowl record in the Irish’s win over Iowa State. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO — St. Petersburg native Tony Jones Jr. set a Notre Dame bowl record in accounting for a nice chunk of the 247 yards the Irish rushed for in a 33-9 win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl on Saturday afternoon. 

On Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, Jones (IMG Academy) went around left end, broke down the sideline and fought off corner Tayvonn Kaye the last 10 yards of an 84-yard touchdown run.

The run, which gave Notre Dame a 27-6 lead, was longest touchdown run in Notre Dame’s bowl history as well as that of the Camping World Bowl.

Jones finished the day with 135 yards on 11 carries. The effort gave the redshirt junior 857 yards on the season.

“It was exciting to see him go the distance because he’s been talked about as a guy that doesn’t have the ability to take you over the top,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “But today you saw him break down the sideline and have the longest run in Notre Dame bowl history. He ran physical and did what he normally does, help us win.”

Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool was named the game’s MVP after catching seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. His 24-yard TD was a diving catch in the end zone with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter to give the Irish a 10-0 lead and capped a 58-yard drive.

On the previous possession, the Cyclones drove to the Notre Dame 36 yard line before linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah stripped quarterback Brock Purdy, who was rolling out to his left, and recovered the fumble.

“We feed off each other,” said Claypool, of how the offense and defense set each other up. “We were able to put something on the board right after that turnover. The defense continued to give us good field position.”

The defense limited the Iowa State to only three field goals. It also had a key fourth-down stop as the Cyclones went for it on fourth-and-one at their own 45 yard line late in the second quarter.

Two plays later, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book found a wide open Claypool for a 44-yard gain to the one. Two plays later Jafar Armstrong scored to give the Irish a 20-3 lead with 2:25 remaining in the half.

“All three phases were outstanding today,” said Kelly, whose punt coverage unit forced a turnover that resulted in a field goal for the first points of the game. “I thought the defensive performance, when you hold an offense that scored (41 points) against a team that is in the (CFP) in Oklahoma to no touchdowns, you can’t hide from that. They did an outstanding job today.”

Book completed 20-of-28 for 247 and the TD to Claypool. He also ran for 30 yards to lead the Irish in a turnover-free performance.  

Notre Dame, which was No. 15 in the final CFP rankings, finished 11-2.

Iowa State, which was limited to 272 yards and nine first downs, finished 7-6. Their five losses coming in were by a combined 21 points, including a 42-41 setback at Oklahoma that Kelly alluded to.

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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer, reporter and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Comcast, NBC and The Topps Company. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and globalsportmatters.com. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a USF grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.