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Irish's Effort Is All for a Loss

Notre Dame falls to Brigham Young, 20-17, in game it hoped to use as tuneup for Michigan.

September 05, 2004|From Associated Press

PROVO, Utah — Notre Dame will have that game of experience it wanted when the Fighting Irish play host to rival Michigan next Saturday.

The Irish also have a loss.

Brigham Young held off a late push by Notre Dame for a 20-17 victory Saturday night.

Matt Berry passed for 167 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown pass and a clutch 37-yard completion in the final minutes to Todd Watkins, after relieving Brigham Young starter John Beck in the second quarter.

The Cougars improved to 4-0 in openers under Coach Gary Crowton and got off to a winning start as they try to break a two-year streak of losing seasons.

"It's so fun to beat Notre Dame just because it's such a storied program," Crowton said. "What this does is gives us momentum going into the season and gives us a chance to get better."

The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 30, but Notre Dame got Brigham Young and several other schools to reschedule so the Irish wouldn't have to face the Wolverines in the opener.

The Irish were about to get a final chance with Brigham Young facing a third-and-eight play from its 25. But Berry threw a pass toward the Notre Dame sideline that Watkins leaped to pull in and give the Cougars a first down with 1:34 remaining.

Watkins, a junior college transfer making his debut with the Cougars, also caught a 50-yard pass from Beck to set up Brigham Young's first touchdown.

"They doubled him most of the night. He's not only fast and tall, he also goes after the football. That will soften up opposing teams' defense," Crowton said.

Notre Dame's Brady Quinn completed 26 of 47 passes for 265 yards, including a screen pass that Rhema McKnight took 54 yards for a touchdown. Preston Jackson returned an interception 38 yards in the fourth quarter to get the Irish within a field goal, but they had to punt on their last possession and the Cougars didn't give up the ball again.

"Their defensive scheme kept us a little on our heels so we couldn't come off the ball," Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham said. "We couldn't be as effective as we wanted to be."

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