No. 9 Notre Dame Stuns No. 14 Stanford With Late TD, 17-14


The No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish played a sloppy game last week against Syracuse, but got the victory. The game against the No. 14 Stanford Cardinal started off much in the same way, with sloppy weather conditions adding to the miscues. But Everett Golson answered the call on the final drive for the Irish, finding Ben Koyack in the corner of the end zone for a 23-yard TD pass.

The talk leading into this matchup was the physicality of an experienced Stanford (2-2) team, and could the Irish (5-0) survive the beating. With poor weather conditions, the game was expected to be a low-scoring affair, decided in the trenches. and it’s no secret coach Brian Kelly has been trying to jump-start the run game, reshuffling the offensive line for the second week in a row.

The conditions kept either team from moving the ball much on their first two possessions, all leading to punts. The Cardinal moved into Notre Dame territory on their third drive, reaching the Irish 43. But Kevin Hogan’s next pass was intercepted by Cole Luke at the nine yard line, halting the threat.

Unfortunately for the Irish, Golson’s scramble on the first play of the drive was fumbled, and the Cardinal took over at the Irish 10.

After an incomplete pass to Ty Montgomery, Hogan would take it himself from ten yards out for the score. After struggling in the redzone the past two games, the Cardinal seem to overcome that issue right away, jumping out to a 7-0 lead.

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The Irish were on the move as the first quarter came to an end, and it was the first time they trailed after the first 15 minutes this season.

After a C.J. Prosise 26-yard run on a wide receiver sweep, a late hit penalty gave the Irish another 15 yards, moving them to the Stanford 11. Tarean Folston’s 6-yard run got them to the six, but the turnover bug would bite the Irish again.

As Golson scrambled to the left, he appeared to try to throw the ball down and away from his receiver where only he could make the catch. Jordan Richards had other ideas as he cut it off for the interception, spoiling the Irish scoring chance.

The Irish would finally get a scoring chance on a 41-yard field goal attempt from Kyle Brindza. But the wet conditions led to a fumbled snap from holder Hunter Smith, and the Irish came away empty again.

Notre Dame would catch a break as Stanford had their own special teams struggles.A high snap on the field goal attempt would cost them the chance at three points, giving the ball back to Notre Dame.

On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, Golson found a crossing Chris Brown for a 17-yard TD to tie the score at 7-7.

A scoreless third quarter for both teams would lead to a dramatic fourth quarter, similar to the 2012 game, which had eerily similar weather conditions.

Another fumbled snap by the holder Smith for the Irish left more points on the field, as Stanford would return the second missed field goal of the game 37 yards, the longest play of the game at the time.

Stanford was unable to convert, and gave the ball back to the Irish with just over eleven minutes to play. The Irish worked the ball down to the Stanford 28, setting up another field goal attempt. This time the holder Smith came on the field wearing gloves, and it worked as Brindza hit the go-ahead 45-yard kick, making it 10-7.

The Irish had avoided kicking it to Stanford’s talented returner Montgomery, and the reason was apparent on the following kick-off. Montgomery found a seam and brought the ball back 42 yards to the Cardinal 42. Hogan would connect with Devon Cajuste on two key pass plays, as the Cardinal moved to the ND 11.

On third and eleven, the Irish set up their defense, and dared the Cardinal to run the ball. They did just that with an easy 11-yard score up the middle by Remound Wright. The Cardinal went up 14-10, and the crown at Notre Dame Stadium was stunned silent, with 3:01 to play.

From there, it seemed everything fell Notre Dame’s way.

The kick-off went out-of-bounds, giving the Irish the ball at the 35. On a third and ten, Golson found Corey Robinson for a first down. The following play, Golson went end zone, looking for William Fuller. The defender Wayne Lyons never got his head around, and was called for pass interference, moving the Irish to the Stanford 22.

On fourth and eleven, Golson stepped to the right, then scrambled back around to the left. A defensive breakdown allowed Koyack to run unguarded to the corner of the end zone, and Golson found him just in time as the safety arrived a step late. The Irish took a 17-14 lead with only 1:01 left to play.

The game would end somewhat anti-climactically, as an intentional grounding from Hogan would lead to a ten-second runoff, ending the game.

In a battle that was expected to be won by Stanford and their physical prowess, the Irish lead across the stat-lines. The Irish led in total offense (370-205), and in rushing (129-47). Keep in mind, this was against the No.1 ranked defense in the nation.

It wasn’t pretty, and the weather can only account for some of the sloppy play. But the Irish established they can move the ball against any defense, and kept themselves alive in the playoff conversation.