Last Second Touchdown Propels USC Over Notre Dame, 34-31

Oct. 15, 2005

Final Stats

AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Tested like never before, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Southern California showed they have a championship jaw to go along with all that talent.

Leinart pushed and spun his way into the end zone with 3 seconds left to cap a chaotic finish and No. 1 USC escaped with its 28th straight victory, a back-and-forth 34-31 win Saturday over No. 9 Notre Dame in a game that lived up to the hype.

For a moment the Irish, dressed for success in kelly green jerseys, thought they had added another stunning upset to their illustrious history. Leinart scrambled from inside the 5, launched himself toward the end zone but was stopped short and the ball was sent flying out of bounds.

The clock kept ticking down to 0:00. Notre Dame's fans rushed the field, but after the officials huddled, 7 seconds was put back on the clock and the ball was spotted inside the 1.

The Heisman Trophy winner took it himself on the next play and went over the left side for the score.

Irish quarterback Brady Quinn had given Notre Dame a 31-28 lead with 2:02 left, dashing around right end for a 5-yard touchdown, extending his right arm across the goal line with the ball.

But Leinart wasn't done yet. He completed a 61-yard pass to Dwayne Jarrett on a fourth-and-9 at his own 26 and a few plays later called his own number for the winner.

Bush ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns for the two-time defending champions.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis tapped into the Fighting Irish's illustrious history and even in defeat etched a spot in it for himself and his team. He broke out all the stops, bringing in 'Rudy' and Joe Montana to fire up his team and the fans in Friday night's pep rally, then putting the Irish in their green jerseys after warm-ups on Saturday.

The Trojans (6-0) trailed at the half for the third time this season, this time by 21-14 after Tom Zbikowski's 60-yard punt return early in the second quarter gave the Irish (4-2) their first lead.

But Bush tied the game with a 45-yard scoring gallop early in the third. His second long TD of the game put him over 100 yards rushing for the fifth straight game.

Notre Dame got the lead back with a field goal, but Bush struck again, going around the corner from 9 yards out with about five minutes left to make it 28-24.

Then it was Quinn's turn to have a Heisman moment.

He guided the Irish on an 87-yard drive, completing all three of his passes and finally putting Notre Dame up with 2:02 left.

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