Notre Dame fans' antics inspire Lawrence and Skalski in ACC title win

by - Senior Writer -
Skalski had five tackles and a sack against Notre Dame. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Skalski had five tackles and a sack against Notre Dame. (Photo courtesy ACC)

CHARLOTTE, NC – As students and fans rushed the field following Notre Dame's victory over Clemson last month, several stopped to stick phones in the face of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and linebacker James Skalski, taking pictures and dropping a few salty remarks along the way. Those remarks and actions stuck in the minds of the two Clemson leaders.

Notre Dame’s double overtime victory was over a Clemson team that was then ranked No. 1 in the nation and stood as perhaps the best win in the tenure of Irish head coach Brian Kelly. The students and the fans were understandably excited, but a few went over the line.

Clemson responded with a resounding 34-10 victory over the Irish in Saturday’s ACC Championship Game, claiming a sixth consecutive league title and all but clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Lawrence completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 90 yards on 14 carries on the ground and earned MVP honors. Skalski was all over the field and recorded five tackles and a sack.

“Ever since that loss, we knew if we took care of business and they took care of business that we would see them again,” Skalski said. “We were really happy that we got to see them again. It’s been an exciting two weeks getting ready for these guys. We couldn’t wait to play them and it definitely showed.”

Skalski could be seen exchanging pleasantries with several Notre Dame players during the course of the game, but he says he was just excited to be able to play after missing time following his sports hernia surgery.

“I had a lot of fun. It’s been a rough couple of months for me with injury and being out and frustration,” Skalski said. “I was dialed in and I was ready to go. It was really fun to be out there and calling the defense for the guys.”

Lawrence didn’t remember the specifics on what was said that chilly night in South Bend -- he just knows he didn’t like it.

“I honestly don't even remember. I try to block it all out. I just remember a lot of phones in our faces and guys running up to us,” Lawrence said. “I don't even know what they were saying. They were just yelling and stuff. It's part of it and they were excited to get the win, but we definitely remembered that.”

Lawrence then said that the Tigers were hoping to get another chance to take on the Irish.

“Some of the guys in the locker room right after said we would see them again,” Lawrence said. “All we had to was take care of business to get that chance and we did that. We played a few games after that and then, obviously, got to play them again. Me and Jamie walking off that field, we remember the fans running on the field and getting in our faces. Obviously, it's part of it but you remember those things. You keep those images in your head for when the time comes to play them again.”

Skalski says Notre Dame’s talk leading up to the game might have awakened a rabid dog best left asleep.

“I sensed a different level in this whole team. We treat every game the same way -- don’t get me wrong. When you listen to some of the things they were saying leading up to this game,” said Skalski. “They pushed some buttons they wished they shouldn’t have pushed.”

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