Spartans, Stanton Stun Irish

The script was perfect for Charlie Weis. His team had just rallied from three touchdowns down to send the game into overtime. The momentum was on the side of Notre Dame. But Michigan State thwarted the storybook ending.

In a game that saw over 1050 yards of total offense, Jason Teague scored on a 19-yard option run in overtime to give the Spartans a 44-41 win over the tenth-ranked Irish, giving Michigan State their fifth straight win at Notre Dame Stadium. The loss for the Irish (2-1) spoiled the home opener for Weis and a fantastic effort from their offense. Weis knows no matter how you spin it, a loss is a loss.

"Here's what I told them," Weis said. "I told them you don't get any medals for trying. I told them not to feel good about themselves because they came back and tied the game up when they're down three scores. That's great when you fight back like that. You have team wins. This was a team loss. I told them to give Michigan State their due. They deserved to win the game. We made too many mistakes in the game."

Jeff Samardzija'a third receiving touchdown of the game with just over 2:00 minutes remaining capped the comeback for Notre Dame, tying the game at 38 and sending the contest into the extra frame. After Michigan State (3-0) won the coin toss, they elected to go on defense first. Three straight plays garnered no yards for the Irish but Fitzpatrick line drived a 44-yard field goal to briefly give the lead to Notre Dame 41-38. It did not take long for Michigan State to complete the upset. Two plays into overtime, Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton optioned right and pitched it to Teague, who ran the distance for winning score. Michigan State head coach John L. Smith was elated after his team's victory.

"Oh, what a game, huh?" Smith said. "That was worth the price of admission I would say. First of all, you have to give those guys in the other locker room a lot of credit. They had a great bounce back. They continued to fight. They could have hung it up but they battled and battled and battled. They had the momentum coming into overtime but I'm very proud of our kids."

Stanton was on point for the entire contest. The junior quarterback's third touchdown of the day to Matt Trannon gave the Spartans a commanding 38-17 with five minutes left in the third quarter. Trannon set a career high with five catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Stanton was 16-of-27 for 327 yards and the Notre Dame secondary had no answer for his receivers. The secondary was not the only problem for the Irish, who allowed 488 total yards. The run defense was porous as well, surrendering 161 yards on the ground.

Brady Quinn started the Irish comeback on the next drive. The junior went 8-of-8 on the march and hit Darius Walker for a 6-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 38-24. The loss for Notre Dame overshadowed Quinn's performance. Although throwing a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown and being off target on a few throws, Quinn was 33-of-60 for 487 yards and five touchdowns. Notre Dame out gained Michigan State 594 to 488 and controlled the ball for 11 more minutes. The only stat that counts is tally on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

"I'm not a stat guy," Weis said. "I don't play the game to see how many stats our guys can have. I play the game to win. And we didn't win today and that's the bottom line."

It was also a huge day for the much-maligned Maurice Stovall. The senior hauled in eight balls for 176 yards and caught a touchdown early on in the fourth quarter to make the score 38-31 Spartans. It was a big day overall for the receivers as Samardzija had six catches for 93 yards, tight end Anthony Fasano had seven grabs for 93 yards and Matt Shelton six catches for 87 yards.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair. A beautiful 20-yard toss from Stanton to Trannon over two Notre Dame defenders gave Michigan State an early 7-0 lead. Quinn came back six minutes later, hitting Samardzija over the middle for a 18-yard touchdown strike to nod the score at 7. As was evidenced all day long, Notre Dame had no answer for the Spartan offense as Stanton threw his second score of the game to Kellen Davis for a 14-7 lead. Davis paid a steep price for the touchdown as he was flattened by Irish safety Tom Zbikowski in the end zone and needed help walking off the field.

The key drive of the first half was towards halftime with the game tied at 17. After Fitzpatrick missed a 48-yard field goal, the Spartans needed only 46 seconds to drive down the field. Stanton optioned left for a three-yard score to give Michigan State a 24-17 heading into intermission. Two plays into the third quarter, Quinn badly misfired on an out pattern to Samardzija and paid the ultimate price. Darean Adams intercepted the errant throw and took it to the house 31 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 31-17.


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