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Changing of the Guards Ignites Irish Rally, 27-12 : Midwest: After McDougal fumbles, he leads Notre Dame over Northwestern.

September 05, 1993|From Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — An All-American lineman inspired quarterback Kevin McDougal and two backup guards rejuvenated the running game Saturday as No. 7 Notre Dame struggled to a 27-12 victory over Northwestern.

McDougal's fumble on the first play of the second half set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Wildcats, an 11-yard run by Dennis Lundy for a 12-7 lead. McDougal, a senior making his first start, turned to co-captain Aaron Taylor for support.

He found it, throwing three long second-half passes that rallied the Irish as Northwestern self-destructed.

"I looked at Aaron Taylor and he said, 'It's time to go now,' " McDougal said of his conversation with the 295-pound left tackle. "Once I looked into his eyes and he told me that, I said, 'Let's go. I'll meet you at the goal line.' "

With backup guards Mark Zataveski and Ryan Leahy, the grandson of former Irish coach Frank Leahy, inserted on the next possession, McDougal opened with a 23-yard pass to Clint Johnson. Seven plays later, Ray Zellars carried six yards for a 14-12 Notre Dame lead.

With quarterback Len Williams leading a sharp short passing attack, the Wildcats held the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half and outgained Notre Dame, 189-78. But the Wildcats wilted after Lundy's touchdown gave them a short-lived lead.

Penalties killed two Northwestern drives during the Irish rally and Chris Gamble's fumble deep in Northwestern territory set up Notre Dame's last touchdown.

"Today showed us that we could be a good football team," Northwestern Coach Gary Barnett said. "The only step we have to take is between our ears."

McDougal completed six of eight passes for 135 yards while sharing time with Paul Failla. He led four scoring drives in a row after his costly fumble.

Notre Dame finished with 162 rushing yards, with only 56 coming behind starting guards Will Lyell and Dusty Ziegler. The Irish held the ball for more than 19 minutes in the second half.

Williams completed 23 of 35 passes for 238 yards, one touchdown and an interception that linebacker Peter Bercich returned 21 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play.

Notre Dame has beaten Northwestern 13 consecutive times.

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