Cougars Fall To No. 19 Notre Dame In OT, 29-26
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Nicholas Setta kicked a 40-yard field goal inovertime as No. 19 Notre Dame overcame a 19-point deficit to beat WashingtonState 29-26 Saturday.
The Irish (1-0), who had gone 12 quarters without an offensive touchdownwhen they entered the fourth quarter trailing 19-6, scored 20 points for theirbiggest come-from-behind win since beating Southern California 25-24 in 1999after trailing 21-3 at halftime.
Washington State (1-1) scored on a 34-yard pass from Matt Kegel to SammyMoore with 53 seconds left to force the overtime.
Drew Dunning, who hit the left crossbar on a point-after in the firstquarter, missed a 34-yard field goal in overtime. Setta then made his kick asthe Irish fans, some of whom booed the offense in the first half, cheeredwildly.
The Irish, who had just 125 yards total offense through three quarters,shook off the rust and amassed 181 yards in the fourth quarter. Even moreamazingly, freshman quarterback Brady Quinn guided the Irish to the go-aheadscore while Carlyle Holiday sat out several plays with what appeared to be aninjured left leg.
Even after the Irish drove 78 yards early in the fourth quarter to set up a39-yard field goal by Setta to make it 19-9, the Irish appeared to have littlechance.
The momentum changed abruptly, though, when Troy Bienemann caught a shortpass from Kegel and was hit hard by Vontez Duff, knocking the ball free. GlennEarl recovered the ball on the Washington State 25-yard line.
But it appeared that Washington State wouldn't be harmed by the mistake whenHoliday mishandled a snap and it bounced loose. Washington State defensive endD.D. Acholonu fell on the ball but couldn't wrap it up, and Holiday reachedunder him and pulled it in. That set up an 11-yard TD pass from Holiday toRhema McKnight to make it 19-16.
The TD was the first offensive score for Notre Dame since the third quarterof the Rutgers game last season. Still, it was a marked improvement from lastseason, when Notre Dame did not have an offensive score until the third game.
Julius Jones, who missed last year's surprising turnaround season because hewas academically ineligible, scored on a 19-yard TD run to give the Irish a23-19 lead.
The Cougars forced overtime when Kegel threw a 28-yard touchdown pass toMoore, the second time they connected for a TD. Moore was interfered with onthe play by Preston Jackson but still managed to pull it in one-handed as hedove into the end zone.
Holiday was 31-of-34 passing for 149 yards with one touchdown. Ryan Granthad 98 yards on 17 carries and Jones ran for 72 yards on 11 carries.
The Irish comeback overshadowed a strong first half performance by theWashington State defense, which scored a touchdown on a 12-yard fumble returnby Isaac Brown and set up two field goals.