(Saturday, September 24th)
Final Score: Notre Dame 15, Pittsburgh 12
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - It was yet another contest where Notre Dame was its own worst enemy, but this time, the Irish were able to come back and earn a 15-12 decision at Heinz Field to move to 2-2 on the season.
Notre Dame dominated in terms of offensive production, amassing almost 400 yards (398) to a mere 268 yards for Pittsburgh, but the Irish committed eight penalties for 85 yards and had two costly turnovers, including their fifth in the red zone this season.
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees struggled, completing 24-of-41 passes, for 216 yards, with one TD and one INT.
Pittsburgh (2-2) got 89 yards rushing and another 43 yards receiving from tailback Ray Graham, but fell to 2-2 on the young season. Quarterback Tino Sunseri threw for 165 yards and one score, but was sacked five times in the loss.
Pittsburgh scored first late in the first quarter, thanks to a fumble by Notre Dame's Rees. The Panthers did little with the opportunity, losing five yards on a four-play drive, settling for a 45-yard field goal from Kevin Harper.
Freshman tailback Jonas Gray got the Irish on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, getting outside and taking a handoff 79 yards for a TD on the first play of the drive. The lightly-used Gray had just 22 carries coming into the game.
The Panthers pulled to within one point on their next drive, a 23-yard field goal from Harper, as Pittsburgh got stifled in the red zone.
Notre Dame marched down the field on its next possession of the second quarter, but yet another red zone turnover, proved problematic, as Rees threw an interception inside the five-yard line. However, the Panthers were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
The Irish, who missed a field-goal at the end of the first half, led 7-6 at the break, despite the two turnovers.
Notre Dame made yet another critical mistake in the third quarter, roughing the kicker on a Pittsburgh punt deep in its own territory on a fourth-and- twenty two. This time, the Panthers took advantage, marching down the field on a 19-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 8:24 of the clock, culminating in a three-yard TD pass from Sunseri to tight end Hubie Graham. Pittsburgh failed on a two-point conversion, leaving the score at 12-7 at the end of the third quarter.
The Irish finally regained the lead in the fourth quarter, as Rees completed a six-yard TD strike to junior tight end Tyler Eifert. It was once again Rees to Eifert on a two-point conversion giving Notre Dame a 15-12 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. Eifert came up big in the game, leading the Irish with eight catches, for 75 yards and one TD.
The Panthers had one last chance to march down the field to set up at least a game-tying field goal, but the Irish defense came up with two sacks and took over on downs with just over two minutes to play.
Notre Dame was able to run out the clock thanks to a big conversion on fourth- and-one to earn the victory.
09/24 17:17:03 ET