I'm happy just getting the ball, being 17. I'm just grateful to be on the field right now. —BYU RB Jamaal Williams
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — BYU running back Jamaal Williams was wasn't scared or wide-eyed. He wasn't awed by the atmosphere at Notre Dame Stadium.
The 17-year-old true freshman rushed 14 times for 64 yards and caught seven passes for 42 yards against Notre Dame's highly touted defense.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, almost all of those yards came in the first half, when Williams racked up 95 total yards and BYU seized a 14-7 lead at intermission.
Williams gained only eight yards on five carries in the second half as the No. 5 Fighting Irish shut out BYU over the final two quarters and earned a 17-14 victory Saturday.
"I think we just let off the gas a little bit," Williams said.
He added that he wasn't disappointed that he wasn't utilized more in the second half.
"I'm happy just getting the ball, being 17," he said. "I'm just grateful to be on the field right now."
On BYU's first scoring drive, in the second quarter, Williams touched the ball on the first six plays, gaining a total of 43 yards, including a 21-yard run.
"Jamaal's a stud," said offensive lineman Braden Brown. "I asked him at halftime if he was sure he was 17 years old because he's playing like a grown man out there. He had a great opportunity to come in and start and ever since he's done a great job for our offense. It's opened up a ton more possibilities as far as plays we can run and spreading the field and getting our run game going."
"Jamaal, I love that dude," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "He's a football player and he's going to be exciting for years to come. On our first touchdown drive, he was just a man. I'm so proud of the way he's playing, battling, and staying healthy and helping this team."
What did Williams think of Notre Dame's defense?
"They were extremely good," he said. "We did well in the first half against them. I felt like our stretch plays helped me see which holes were open."
Meanwhile, Williams said his team had its chances to win: "I feel like we beat ourselves in this game," he said.
THE NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE: BYU approached Saturday's game as a business trip, not as an opportunity to visit one of college football's most prestigious and storied venues.
While the Cougars didn't do any sight-seeing, they were looking to open some eyes nationally by springing a big upset against a top-5 opponent.
It didn't happen. Because of that, Nelson didn't exactly enjoy the Notre Dame experience.
"No. I mean, we drove in here right before the game. I didn't get to see any of the campus or anything like that," he said. "I'll probably come back here later. We didn't win. We played good, but we can't take full enjoyment until you come away with a win."
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman enjoyed playing at Notre Dame.
"It was great. It's been a good time," he said. "The atmosphere was exactly what I expected it to be like. It was definitely fun to play here."
"It was an awesome opportunity, just an awesome atmosphere to play college football," Brown said.
BRIGHT SPOT: BYU punter Riley Stephenson turned in another impressive performance, averaging 46.8 yards per punt, including a game-best 55-yarder. He placed two punts inside the 20-yard line.
THE SERIES: Notre Dame now leads the all-time series with BYU, 5-2. The Fighting Irish are 4-1 in South Bend, 1-1 in Provo.
The two teams meet again on Nov. 23, 2013, at Notre Dame Stadium.