Another heart-stopping victory for Notre Dame
Notre Dame's offense and defense both had their moments in the spotlight as the Fighting Irish beat visiting Washington 37-30 in overtime Saturday. Wide receiver Golden Tate caught nine passes for 244 yards, including a career-long 77-yarder, and threw in a 31-yard run on his only carry. And the Irish defense stopped the Huskies from the 1-yard line on three different sets of downs. Tate's catch and acrobatic leap in overtime led to Robert Hughes' game-winning 1-yard touchdown run. "I figured leaping, it could be a touchdown, but it didn't end up that way at all," Tate said of the play, during which he absorbed a violent hit and went spinning but managed to hold onto the ball. Washington took its overtime possession with a chance to answer, but went backwards thanks to a sack by Kerry Neal. A promising-looking fourth-down pass into the end zone was broken up by Irish safeties Kyle McCarthy and Harrison Smith. "They just keep on fighting and fighting and fighting," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said of his team. The Irish improved to 4-1 with their third straight down-to-the-wire win, following three-point victories over Purdue and Michigan State. It looked grim on a rainy, cold day as Notre Dame trailed 24-19 with Washington threatening at the 1, but the Irish stuffed Washington quarterback Jack Locker on two straight sneak attempts to take over on downs. A Notre Dame field goal cut the lead to 24-22 with the last of Nick Tausch's five field goals. That's when Washington embarked on a 19-play, 69-yard drive that chewed up most of the fourth quarter but resulted in just three points. The Irish stopped Washington after the Huskies had first and goal from the 1, but a personal foul for roughing the snapper on the ensuing field goal attempt led to a new set of downs. This time, Washington couldn't overcome a false start penalty despite advancing back to the 1, and had to settle for another field goal. "I think that the entire game, probably the entire game, came down to that double goal-line stand," Weis said. The mindset on defense? "They can't score," Neal said. "We do goal-line all camp. It pays off. It seemed like we were out there forever." Down 27-22, Notre Dame drove down and scored on Jimmy Clausen's 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, adding a second-effort 2-point conversion run by Hughes. Hughes kept fighting for that critical 2-pointer, and didn't want to hear a whistle blow. "That's what I was afraid of," he said. "I didn't want them to stop the play." Befitting the see-saw contest, Washington drove with 1:20 to go and tied the game on a 37-yard field goal by Erik Folk. It was an up-and-down first half for Clausen, who passed for more than 200 yards, but provided Washington with its second touchdown when he threw the ball over the head of Armando Allen on an attempted screen. The pass was a lateral, and Washington's Desmond Trufant picked up the live ball and ran into the end zone. On the very next series, Clausen avoided the rush, aided by a nice pass-protection block from Allen, and found Tate, who left several defenders in the dust on his way to a 67-yard touchdown. Washington put together a late drive to take the lead 17-16 on a field goal at the end of the half. Clausen finished with 422 yards passing. Hughes ran for 70 yards on eight carries and caught a 25-yard pass. The highly touted Locker threw for 281 yards and a touchdown, and ran or 33 yards and another score. Running back Chris Polk had 136 yards on the ground for the Huskies. The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense.
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