Notre Dame Football’s Top 10 Long Touchdown Runs of All-Time

WatchND came out with another Notre Dame football NDTop10 video this week.  This time, it’s the top 10 long touchdown runs in Notre Dame football history.  Along with the video, here is a list of that top 10 along with some commentary.

  1. Jerome Bettis destroys Florida in the Sugar Bowl with TD runs of 49 and 39 in the 4th quarter to blowout the Gators
  2. Jonas Gray rips off the 79-yard TD against Pitt in 2013 in an otherwise forgettable game
  3. CJ Prosise with a 91-yard touchdown run versus Georgia Tech in 2015
  4. Joe Heap from 1954 with an 89-yard touchdown run over SMU
  5. The Rocket doing rocket-like things with a 76 yard TD against Pitt in 1990.  All he needed was a small seam and he was GONE.
  6. Reggie Brooks with the afterburners against USC in 1992 for the 55-yard score
  7. Josh Adams with one of his many long touchdown runs of 2017 with the 84-yarder in Notre Dame’s rout of USC
  8. Tony Rice’s option keeper against USC in 1988 that covering 65 yards before reaching the endzone
  9. An 85-yard touchdown run by Eric Penick in 1973 in Notre Dame’s win over #3 USC
  10. Dexter Williams with the cutback for 97 yards on the road against Virginia Tech in 2018

Some are probably wondering why Josh Adams’s record-long touchdown run against Wake Forest in 2015 isn’t on the list and my guess is because the folks at WatchND already included it in their list of the top 10 toughest touchdown runs in Notre Dame history.  That one might have been worth repeating though.

One CJ Prosise run I might have included over his 91-yarder against Georgia Tech was his jet sweep run against LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl.  Sure the run versus Georgia Tech was longer, but his TD against LSU was such a game-changer and led to a win over LSU in a bowl game.

I’m also biased, but I could have been OK with more than one long Rocket Ismail touchdown run.  In fact, consider this me requesting an entire NDTop10 devoted to Rocket Ismail one of these weeks.

Deshone Kizer’s 91-yard keeper versus Temple in 2015 could have qualified for this list too.  That was a hell of a run, on the road, against a ranked opponent, in prime time.

All in all though, another great job by the team at WatchND of producing some great content to keep people entertained during a time when everyone can use it.

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  1. I’d be all in in favoring a Rocket top 10.
    Good choices; I can’t find fault including any of them.
    But the choices make it difficult limiting to ten.
    I was at a few of those top 10 listed, and remember vividly the Penick run vs. SC in ‘73, my senior year.
    As I recall, it was the only W vs. SC my four years at ND.

    More recently, D. Williams first carry of his Senior year after returning from suspension was electric as he bolted for a TD that led to a Stanford defeat, always good. That explosive TD wasn’t included in the top 10, but was a highlight that set off one of the noisiest home Field advantages in all my years attending ND games.

    1. Well, Michael, if the importance of the moment means anything, Penick’s run is #1. For the Dick Lynch advocate, I conced its drama and impact but it was very short.

      You must remember the context of the Penick run. Even the great Ara was winless against USC from ’67-’72. USC had become an obsession for Irish fans, the Goliath to Notre Dame’s David. that was a cool, overcast day in south bend with some sprinkles. and Penick’s run did not occur until the second half, in fact ND’s opening offensive play. It was
      Ara/Pagna misdirection at its very best. the Irish were up, but by a nervous 13-7 only. then came Penick around the corner. Unbelievable blocking by the Irish linemen and Penick was in the clear by the USC 40. The game was so ancient that Chris Schenkel was announcing the game.

      If CONTEXT means anything, that was the greatest run I saw.

  2. Best one I remember 1957 Dick Lynch run snaps Oklahoma 47 game win streak. Game was at Norman OK and ND was 19 point underdog. Fantastic finish!

  3. How about Tim Brown’s two TD returns against Michigan State in 1987? That won him the Heisman.

    1. Mr. McGarry,

      The videos are top ten touchdown *runs* – not punt return touchdowns.

      All the best to you.

  4. In my opinion, if Dexter Williams could have played as a starter for 3 years or more, he would have gone down as NDs best back ever. Never seen a back explode through the hole harder than him and then have the vision and speed both to break the long runs off. He basically played 9 games as a starter in his career right? I know he was in a bit of trouble there for a while but imagine had Kelly not been an idiot and actually played him more when he was actually fully eligible instead of keeping him in a doghouse.

  5. There were a couple long runs that could have gotten a mention. I thought Allen Pinkett’s 76 yard run vs #1 Pittsburgh in ’82 would have been in the #1 slot. I think that could have been used in a different reel.

    Another long TD run, in a game that had two great long TD runs, is Ricky Watters 66 yard touchdown run vs Tennessee in ’90. Rocket Ismail had a great TD run as well in that game. I’m watching the replay of the Notre Dame-Tennessee game in 1990, it is amazing to see a player like Watters dominate a top ten team. ND has had some great athletes over the years, but not many on the level of Ricky Watters.

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