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Chicago, IL - Friday, November 2, 2012: Notre Dame's running back Chris James (3) avoids a tackle by Steinmetz's Christian Pilamunga (21). | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media

Chris James is a difference-maker, even when he’s not touching the ball. 

After the Notre Dame junior ran three times for 43 yards and scored a touchdown on the Dons’ first possession Friday, senior Dan Nagode faked a handoff to James on the first play of the second series and Steinmetz rushed to the line. Nagode then stepped back and hit Matt Nunez for a 41-yard scoring strike.

Notre Dame (7-4) never looked back from there in the team’s 35-8 win over Steinmetz (7-3) at Hanson Stadium in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. 

The Dons, who led 35-0 at the half, are in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1998. They play either Lakes or Lake Forest. 

“We wanted to put them behind early,” said Nagode, who threw for a TD and ran for another. “We did not want them to hang around.”

In limited action, James ran nine times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yarder with 5:27 to go before the break that made the score 35-0. 

“Running 47 times last week, obviously (James) is a marked man,” Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey said.

Notre Dame’s defense did its part. The Dons held the Silver Streaks to minus-6 yards in the first two quarters and one first down, which came courtesy of a penalty. 

Breonn Bland was Steinmetz’s best offense in the first half, returning one kickoff 42 yards and another 52 yards. But the Silver Streaks, who lost for the first time in five games, couldn’t get anything going otherwise. 

Quarterback Michael Harris finally broke the shutout with a 9-yard run with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter.

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