Published January 13, 2015
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Notre Dame's stingy defense stifled the red-hot Taylor Kelly and the high-powered Arizona State offense just enough.
It was a performance the Irish had been waiting for all season.
Prince Shembo tallied three of Notre Dame's four sacks as the Irish topped No. 22 Arizona State, 37-34, in the 2013 Shamrock Series.
The game was tied 27-27 midway through the fourth before Tommy Rees engineered a 10-play, 56-yard drive that was capped on Kyle Brindza's go-ahead 25-yard field goal with 3:03 to go.
Mathias Farley intercepted Kelly on a 4th-and-13 on the Sun Devils' ensuing series, and after Arizona State forced a three-and-out, Dan Fox intercepted Kelly on the first play of ASU's next sequence and returned it 14 yards for the game-clinching score with 1:16 left.
After its defense keyed Notre Dame's run to the BCS title game a year ago, the Irish came in with just four sacks and were among the nation's worst with 110 first downs allowed.
The Sun Devils came in 11th in the FBS in scoring (44.3 ppg) and racked up 612 yards against a USC defense last Saturday that had not allowed more than 285 yards.
Rees was 17-of-38 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for Notre Dame (4-2), which lost to Oklahoma last Saturday.
"It's a big win for us, to get right back on the right track in the bye week and the halfway point of the season," Rees said. "It was kind of a game we understood the importance of and we were really ready to go and had a great week of preparation."
T.J. Jones caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown and Cam McDaniel registered 82 yards on the ground on 15 carries in the triumph.
Kelly finished 33-of-47 for 362 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Sun Devils (3-2), who pounded the Trojans 62-41 last week.
"You know, I've got to be better," Kelly remarked. "I've got to focus more when it comes time towards the end of the game."
Jaelen Strong had eight receptions for 136 yards and a score in defeat.
Zane Gonzalez nailed field goals of 40 and 27 yards, respectively, to open the scoring in the second and give ASU a 6-0 edge.
Rees hit Ben Koyack for a 19-yard score on Notre Dame's ensuing touch, but Kelly fired a strike to Strong for a 36-yard touchdown on the Sun Devils' next series.
Notre Dame regained possession with 1:30 on the first-half clock and Rees led the Irish 71 yards in eight plays before concluding the march with an 8-yard TD strike to Jones for a 14-13 Notre Dame spread heading into the locker room.
The Irish scored 10 points in the third to head into the fourth with a 24-13 margin.
Brindza nailed a 53-yard field goal on Notre Dame's first drive of the third and Rees flipped a 21-yard score to Troy Niklas later in the stanza.
Osahon Irabor intercepted a Rees pass and returned it 37 yards for a score on the first play of the fourth before Brindza split the uprights from 33 yards out to make it 27-20 in favor of the Irish with 10:38 remaining.
Kelly tossed a 21-yard TD pass to De'Marieya Nelson on ASU's next touch to tie it.
The Sun Devils have yielded 863 yards rushing over the past four weeks ... Arizona State had a chance to become the first team in NCAA history to beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks ... Notre Dame was 4-of-15 on third down, while ASU finished 4-of-13 in those situations.