AUSTIN, Texas — Coach Brian Kelly and quarterback DeShone Kizer weren’t sure why a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Torii Hunter Jr. didn’t result in a targeting penalty and ejection in the third quarter of Notre Dame’s 50-47 double overtime loss to Texas Sunday night.
Hunter appeared to reel in a go-ahead touchdown but lost control of the ball when Texas’ DeShon Elliott leveled what appeared to be a clear helmet-to-helmet hit. After a lengthy delay as trainers attended to Hunter, officials did not issue a penalty nor review the hit. Had a penalty been called, Notre Dame would’ve received a fresh set of downs in the red zone.
“It wasn’t even reviewed, which just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Kelly said. “I’ve been in this game a long time and I know when somebody gets hit in the head. He certainly was hit in the head on that play in the end zone. Just unfortunate that it wasn’t officiated or reviewed in a manner that I thought it should’ve been.”
Instead, Justin Yoon’s field goal was blocked. Notre Dame can’t pin its loss solely on that missed call — far too much happened in the fourth quarter and overtime — but in a three-point loss, it was one of a handful of moments that can be pointed to as factors in the outcome.
“I don’t know much about the rule,” Kizer said. “What I do know is I threw a ball that put my receiver at risk and I haven’t seen a replay but if it was led with his head, I don’t understand what else could be done. From what I do understand, that’s something that can be reviewed in the box. If they didn’t see anything, then I don’t know what they were looking for.”
Hunter’s father, former MLB All-Star Torii Hunter Sr., tweeted that the redshirt junior captain suffered a concussion on the hit.