Spartans outlast Irish in overtime 44-41

Jason Teague's 19-yard tackle breaking run in overtime gave Michigan State a 44-41 thrilling overtime win in South Bend over previously undefeated Notre Dame.

SOUTH BEND, IN - Jason Teague's 19-yard run on a option pitch from quarterback Drew Stanton gave Michigan State a 44-41 thrilling overtime win in South Bend over previously undefeated Notre Dame.

The win was Michigan State's fifth straight in South Bend.

The much maligned Spartans defense, which seemed on the verge of total collapse in the second half, held the Irish to a field goal on their first possession of the overtime, setting up Teague's heroics.

That Teague even played at all was somewhat of a surprise as he had been suspended for the second time this season and his career seemed in doubt. But when starter Jehuu Caulcrick (6 carries, 11 yards) faltered, Spartans head coach John L. Smith turned to the senior and he responded with a hard-charging 10 carries for 79 yards.

"This is the best time of my life," said Teague after his winning run, "I couldn't have done it without these guys."

Freshman Javon Ringer chipped in with four carries for 28 yards.

But it was junior quarterback Drew Stanton who really shined on the national stage. "We wanted to show that this program is back in the right direction," Stanton said. "There's no better way to do that than a rivalry game at Notre Dame."

Stanton completed 16-of-27 for 327 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It was his 65 yard bomb to senior Matt Trannon (five catches, 126-yards, two touchdowns) that gave the Spartans what should have been an insurmountable lead at 38-17, but the Irish, behind quarterback Brady Quinn mounted a furious comeback.

The Spartans secondary showed all its warts and offensive guru Charlie Weis, the Notre Dame head coach, was able to exploit them. Other than Jaren Hayes, seeing his first action after returning from suspension, the Spartans cover men looked lost at times.

Darius Walker finished a nine play, 80-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run to bring the Irish (2-1) to within 14 points. Quinn then connected with Maurice Stovall on a 7-yard pass to finish a 5-play 64 yard drive to cut the Spartans lead to seven. Then Quinn his Jeff Samardzija from four yards out with just 2:35 left to send the game to overtime.

"When you come back like that, you've got a lot of emotion and you feel pretty good about yourself," said Quinn. "And then when you can't come through with the victory, I think there's the ability to be a big letdown."

But Weis was not in a conciliatory mood. "I told them you don't get any medals for trying. I'm never content when you end up losing."

Eric Smith led the MSU defense with 13 tackles and two sacks, while bandit SirDarean Adams had just four tackles and a sack, but picked off a Quinn pass and ran 30-yard for a touchdown. Spartan kicker John Goss finally got to a chance to kick a field goal and converted a 21-yarder.

For Michigan State (3-0), after a win over a top-10 team, they've done what they set out to do, put themselves in the national picture and head into Big Ten competition on a high note. MSU faces Illinois on the road in the Big Ten season opener next Sunday in Champaign.

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