Notre Dame’s Crawford gets off sideline and comes up big


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford had a memorable game Saturday, intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble in a 49-20 win over Boston College. And yet, when the postgame notes were dispersed, his first name was misspelled as “Sean.”

Might be time to give the junior defensive back more notice.

Of course, the 5-foot-8 Crawford has been easy to overlook. His freshman season was ruined by a torn ACL in the preseason, and he tore an Achilles tendon during last season’s second game against Nevada. Now that he’s finally on the field, though, the Irish are seeing his playmaking talents take form.

“Not having played in two years, I think he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable with … just playing the game,” coach Brian Kelly said Sunday. “One of the things Shaun has always had over other players is a football sense and instinct — he’s always been around the ball.”

That was evident in the 2016 season opener at Texas, a 50-47 double-overtime loss by the Irish that began a disappointing 4-8 season. In the first of two starts before his season-ending injury, Crawford returned an interception 22 yards and also returned a blocked point-after try for two points.

Crawford hasn’t returned to the starting lineup this season, but he’s made an impact during Notre Dame’s 2-1 start. The Irish get Michigan State next weekend.

“Just blessed, really,” Crawford said. “(Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght) always tells me just go make a play. Go do you.”

Saturday, Notre Dame turned each of Crawford’s turnovers into touchdowns.

His first interception came just after Notre Dame extended its lead to 21-13. On third-and-7 from the BC 7, Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown threw a deep out pass that Crawford grabbed in front of the Irish bench at the Notre Dame 40. Four plays later, the Irish went up 28-13 on a 3-yard TD run by Brandon Wimbush.

With Notre Dame leading 35-20 in the fourth quarter, defensive end Julian Okwara stripped BC running back Jon Hilliman, and Crawford recovered at the BC 35. Two running plays later, the Irish were in the end zone again.

Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Brown overthrew an intended receiver, and Crawford made the interception at the BC 33. Five plays later, Dexter Williams ran for his second consecutive touchdown to close out the scoring.

“The interceptions, we went over those plays a number of times throughout the week, and I was in perfect position,” Crawford said. “Now next week, just have to forget about it, go in and work harder and move forward to Michigan State.”

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore running back Tony Jones, who had a rushing touchdown, is listed as day-to-day after spraining an ankle against the Eagles. … Wide receiver Freddy Canteen, a graduate transfer who had an injury-plagued career at Michigan, will have season-ending surgery Tuesday for a torn labrum.