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Notre Dame Wakes Up in Time

Irish score 20 points in the fourth quarter for a 29-26 overtime win over Washington State.

September 07, 2003|From Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The West Coast offense finally showed a spark for No. 19 Notre Dame.

Trailing by 13 points and in danger of losing for the fourth time in six games dating to last season, the Irish offense amassed 181 yards of total offense and 20 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 29-26 overtime win over Washington State on Saturday.

Nicholas Setta kicked a 40-yard field goal in overtime as the sea of green cheered wildly at the narrow escape. Setta had five field goals in the game.

"We're lucky," Coach Tyrone Willingham said. "We're fortunate."

The game had the blueprint of some of the games the Irish won in getting off to a surprising 8-0 start last year: some luck and some big turnovers forced by the defense. The difference Saturday was that the Irish offense came through in the clutch.

Washington State (1-1) jumped out to a 19-0 lead, but Notre Dame (1-0) chipped away at the deficit. The two fourth-quarter touchdowns ended a streak of 12 quarters without an offensive touchdown for the Irish.

Notre Dame, which ditched its option attack from last season for the more open West Coast offense, was helped in its comeback by several Washington State mistakes. The Cougars had 14 penalties for 118 yards, including numerous miscues that kept Irish scoring drives alive.

On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, a 32-yard run by Ryan Grant turned into a 47-yard gain when tackle Josh Shavies was called for a late hit. But even after the Irish finished the 78-yard drive with a 39-yard field goal by Setta to make it 19-9, the Irish appeared to have little chance.

The momentum changed abruptly when Troy Bienemann caught a short pass from Matt Kegel and was hit hard by Vontez Duff, knocking the ball free. Glenn Earl recovered the ball on the Washington State 25-yard line.

Notre Dame soon scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Carlyle Holiday to Rhema McKnight to make it 19-16.

Julius Jones then scored on a 19-yard run to give the Irish a 23-19 lead. Jones ran for 72 yards in 11 carries, and Holiday was 31 of 34 passing for 149 yards.

Washington State Coach Bill Doba, who grew up in South Bend, said the Irish deserved to win.

"Notre Dame didn't quit," he said. "They had an opportunity to go down when we had a good lead on them and they just kept coming back."

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