SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame waited even later than the last minute to pull out this finish.
Saturday’s overtime victory was the first under Charlie Weis, as the Irish had been 0-3.
|2009||vs. Washington||W, 37-30|
|2008||vs. Pittsburgh||L, 36-33 (4OT)|
|2007||vs. Navy||L, 46-44 (3OT)|
|2005||vs. Michigan St.||L, 44-41|
Robert Hughes scored on a 1-yard run in overtime and safeties Harrison Smith and Kyle McCarthy jarred the ball loose from Washington receiver D’Andre Goodwin near the goal line on fourth-and-19 as the Fighting Irish beat the Huskies 37-30 Saturday.
It was the fourth straight game decided in the final 60 seconds for the Irish, the last three of which were wins.
“I’m just happy, really happy for these kids. They just keep fighting and fighting and fighting,” Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said.
The Irish (4-1) stayed in it with a pair of goal-line stands in the second half.
The first was late in the third quarter when the Irish held the Huskies (2-3) for no points on two plays from the 1-yard line on a pair of keepers by Jake Locker. Locker gained a half yard on the first play, but was stopped by Brian Smith and McCarthy. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Locker lost a half yard when Kerry Neal and Harrison Smith stopped him.
“The first one was so close we almost challenged it so we came with a different formation again,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It was so close. It felt almost odd when you look at both tries.”
Robert Hughes scored a 1-yard touchdown in OT as Notre Dame survived Washington to improve to 4-1 and move to 8-0 all-time vs. the Huskies.
Chris Polk appeared to give the Huskies a 30-22 lead with a 6-yard TD run with 7:07 left, but after a review he was ruled down on the half-yard line.
“I felt like I got in the end zone,” said Polk, who ran for a career-high 136 yards.
The Huskies couldn’t advance the ball on three tries, but got a fresh set of downs when Notre Dame nose tackle Ian Williams was called for roughing the snapper on the field goal attempt. The Huskies couldn’t get it in on the next three plays either, with Locker being stuffed for no gain from the 1. Erik Folk kicked a 24-yard field goal to cap the 19-play drive that ate up 9 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.
“The whole game came down to that double goal-line stand,” Weis said.
Sarkisian said he could hardly believe the Huskies couldn’t get the ball in.
“I’ve never seen so many guys get tackled so close to the goal-line that many times,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously it’s frustrating when you had an opportunity like we had there in the fourth quarter to put the game in a situation to be a two-score game, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Jimmy Clausen was 23 of 31 passing for a career-high 422 yards, the fifth highest passing yardage in five seasons under coach Charlie Weis. He had 67-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, a 77-yard pass to Tate that set up a field goal and a 12-yard TD pass to Kyle Rudolph with 80 seconds left to give Notre Dame a 30-27 lead.
“It’s just a great team effort and a great victory for us,” Clausen said.
Folk kicked a 37-yard field goal with 6 seconds left to tie the game at 30.
Golden Tate caught nine passes for a career-high 244 yards and a touchdown. He set up Hughes’ TD run with a 22-yard catch on the first play in overtime.
“I guess we’re just a clutch team,” Tate said of the last-minute wins.
Locker was 22 of 40 passing for 281 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown, but couldn’t come up with the big play in overtime as he had three incomplete passes and was sacked for a 9-yard loss.
“I feel like we should have won that game, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Polk said. “I feel like we left some opportunities on the field.”
Nick Tausch tied a Notre Dame record with five field goals as Washington’s defense repeatedly held the Irish out of the end zone.
Linebacker Manti Te’o, a highly rated recruit playing extensively for the first time, finished with 10 tackles.
Washington cornerback Justin Glenn broke his leg, Sarkisian said.
The Irish had lost three straight in overtime, including to Navy two years ago and to Pittsburgh last year.
McCarthy said the last minute wins are “pretty fun.”
“But it’s much more fun afterward,” he said “It’s kind of shaky during the game.”
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