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Video: Justin Yoon kicks 52yd Field Goal, 2nd longest FG in Notre Dame history

Quick Plays: Yoon from 52 (24-21) – YouTube.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Justin Yoon’s 52-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half Saturday wasn’t the difference for Notre Dame, but it did send the Irish into the locker room with a lead and some momentum.

The second-longest successful field goal attempt in Notre Dame history gave Notre Dame a 24-21 lead after 30 minutes, and a strong second half resulted in a final score of 41-24. After Navy tied the game with 24 seconds left in the second quarter — and with the Mids getting the ball to open the second half — Notre Dame picked up 12 yards on a C.J. Prosise run and 28 on a Torii Hunter Jr. reception.

It set up Yoon’s try on which the freshman from Nashville connected. Yoon struggled a bit early on in his debut season, missing PATs against Georgia Tech and UMass and field goals against Texas and Virginia. But he drilled a 46-yarder in suboptimal conditions at Clemson Oct. 3, and after hitting that 52-yarder made a 36-yard attempt in the second half against Navy.

“I think there was a point of conversation here a couple of weeks ago and I was very confident that we had straightened out some of his mechanics,” Kelly said. “He had a (46) yard kick down at Clemson that was a big kick for us. This was a 52 yarder, and (he) kicked it well.

“We knew what his distance was in pre‑game. We always establish what we think his max distance was going that way. We had a little bit of a breeze there and his max distance was right at that number. So, we were confident that if the mechanics were good and the snap was good and the hold was good, that he could make it.”

Yoon said he feels confident in the process of his pre-kick routine, which has helped him remain confident despite those September hiccups.

“It’s that confidence that I get from that, that I’ve been doing this for so long that this should work all the time,” Yoon said. “That’s what helps me get through it.”

With Notre Dame having no margin for error if it wants to make the College Football Playoff, it’ll need Yoon to build off his makes against Clemson and Navy. Former Irish kicker Kyle Brindza played a massive role in Notre Dame’s run to the BCS Championship in 2012, especially with critical field goals against Oklahoma and USC.

Yoon likely won’t have to shoulder that same load this year, not with C.J. Prosise and Will Fuller powering a far better offense. But there may come a point where Notre Dame needs Yoon to hit a kick to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race, and the last two weeks are a good start toward trusting him in that spot.

“Now that I’m here and this is the fifth game, sixth coming up, I just think that I just gotta do what I gotta do,” Yoon said. “I can’t do what I was doing the first or second game. I just gotta make sure I make all my kicks now.”