(Saturday, November 14th)
Final Score: (8) Pittsburgh 27, Notre Dame 22
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Dion Lewis rushed for 152 yards and the eventual game-winning 50-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, as No. 8 Pittsburgh survived a Notre Dame rally for a 27-22 victory at Heinz Field.
Jonathan Baldwin caught five passes for 142 yards and a TD from Bill Stull, who threw for 236 yards on 15-of-27 attempts in the Panthers' sixth straight win.
"I thought our guys handled the ups and downs well," said Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt. "We knew they would make plays. And when you look at the statistics, the important thing is to not turn the football over. We were able to protect the ball the entire game against a pressure defense."
Pittsburgh (9-1) will determine its own fate in the Big East with a rivalry game against West Virginia on November 27 and a battle against unbeaten Cincinnati a week later.
Golden Tate caught a touchdown pass and returned a punt 87 yards for a score in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough for the Fighting Irish (6-4) to pull off the comeback. The junior receiver ended with nine catches for 113 yards.
Jimmy Clausen was held in check throughout, finishing with 283 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 27-of-42 throws.
"Pitt's defensive ends gave us a lot of pressure which forced Jimmy Clausen to step up," said Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis. "He was under heat all game long. We called four screens. One was a short gain, one was for a loss, one got knocked down, and the other one was stopped. It didn't work for us because they were able to get their hands up and that took away from our effectiveness on offense."
The Irish were coming off a debilitating 23-21 setback to Navy last week and were surely headed for another black mark in the Charlie Weis era, down 20-3 late in the third quarter.
But a gutsy call on 4th-and-1 from its own 40-yard line gave Notre Dame some hope, as Michael Floyd brought in a 45-yard reception.
Clausen powered in from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter, and the Irish were down, 20-9, after the extra point was unsuccessful.
The Panthers answered immediately, with Lewis galloping through the Irish's porous defensive line for a 50-yard TD scamper.
Tate was then able to muscle his way into the end zone for an 18-yard score to cap an 11-play, 71-yard drive with 9:10 remaining in the game.
Pitt went three-and-out and the ensuing punt made the final minutes a little more interesting, as Tate made several defenders miss before deking the punter at midfield en route to an 87-yard punt return for a score, making it 27-22 after a failed two-point conversion.
Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt opted to punt the ball away rather than go for the first down on 4th-and-2 from the ND 42-yard line on the next drive.
The Irish took over at their own 20 with 3:39 to play and got a first down before a chop block pushed them back. On 3rd-and-16 from the 27, Clausen went back to pass and had his arm hit as he threw.
The call on the field was originally ruled an incomplete pass, but instant replay ruled the play a fumble, which Pitt recovered. The hosts proceeded to run out the clock, finishing off one of the signature wins of the season.
A roughing the kicker penalty extended Pitt's first drive, which ended with Dan Hutchins' 34-yard field goal roughly five minutes in.
The teams went silent for over a quarter's worth of time, and Notre Dame tied the game with 5:40 remaining until halftime on David Ruffer's 42-yard field goal.
The Panthers suddenly hit their stride on offense on the ensuing drive. Lewis rumbled for 21 yards, and Baldwin caught consecutive passes of 21 and 36 yards, the latter a diving catch in the end zone for a 10-3 lead at the break.
Baldwin's 51-yard reception on Pitt's first play of the second half set up Hutchins' 38-yard boot early in the third.
The Irish went three-and-out, and the Panthers' Ray Graham gained 53 yards on the next play from scrimmage before finishing it off with a tough two-yard touchdown run to put Pitt in front, 20-3.
Notre Dame finishes another forgettable season against Connecticut and Stanford...The 9-1 start is the first for Pitt since 1982...Armando Allen led the Irish's running game with 77 yards on 14 carries...Floyd had 107 yards on seven catches for ND, which was outgained, 429-349...Pittsburgh has scored at least 24 points in every game this season...Weis is 1-10 against ranked teams since 2006.
11/15 01:37:05 ET