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Notre Dame Takes a Fresh Approach, Beats Stanford

Nonconference: Freshman quarterback LoVecchio, in his first start, throws for two touchdowns to lead No. 25 Irish to a 20-14 victory.

October 08, 2000|From Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The option was back at Notre Dame. The Irish offense, however, didn't show a lot of improvement.

Freshman quarterback Matt LoVecchio guided the No. 25-ranked Irish 91 yards for a touchdown on their first possession, and a blocked punt and an interception set up two touchdowns as Notre Dame beat Stanford, 20-14, on Saturday.

LoVecchio, making his first start, threw two touchdown passes to David Givens in the first half. LoVecchio completed 10 of 18 passes for 100 yards and rushed for 36 yards in 13 carries. He was sacked three times.

"He did a good job with the execution. He is one cool customer," Notre Dame Coach Bob Davie said.

The Irish, who lost starting quarterback Arnaz Battle when he broke his wrist against Nebraska in the second game, turned to LoVecchio when the offense sputtered under Gary Godsey, who could not run the option.

Notre Dame (3-2) entered the game with the 106th rated offense of 114 Division I teams and managed only 266 yards total offense. Combined with the 224 yards it averaged its previous three games, Notre Dame is in its biggest offensive rut since being held to less than 200 yards in each of its last five games in 1963.

LoVecchio said he felt good about his performance.

"I felt comfortable with the whole offense and when I looked at everyone in the huddle I knew they were ready," he said.

The offense did show signs of life early as LoVecchio guided the Irish from their nine-yard line to a touchdown in 11 plays. He rushed for 17 yards in three carries in the drive and completed all four of his passes for 40 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown play to Givens.

"The first drive went really well, but I knew it wasn't going to stay like that. I knew they would change things up," LoVecchio said.

The Irish did manage to get a few short drives in the first half but couldn't score again until after Givens blocked a punt by Mike Biselli and the Irish recovered on the 10 with 39 seconds left in the first half.

LoVecchio lobbed a pass to Givens for an eight-yard touchdown two plays later to give Notre Dame a 13-0 lead.

Givens became the first Irish player with two touchdown catches in a game since teammate Jabari Holloway, a tight end, had two against Purdue two years ago, and the first wide receiver since Derrick Mayes had two against Florida State in the 1996 Orange Bowl.

Stanford (2-3) had 384 total yards but was hurt by the blocked punt and a missed 29-yard field-goal attempt by Biselli early in the fourth quarter. Cardinal quarterback Chris Lewis completed 19 of 31 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

"We made a lot of mistakes," said Stanford wide receiver DeRonnie Pitts, who had eight catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. "We should have put more points on the board."

Stanford got a 14-yard touchdown pass play from Lewis to Darin Naatjes with 1:07 left to close within six points, but Holloway recovered the onside kick at the Cardinal 45.

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