No. 5 Notre Dame survives Pitt’s upset attempt with late TD

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SOUTH BEND — The parallels to 2012 continue to build.

Fifth-ranked Notre Dame improved to 7-0 with Saturday’s 19-14 win over unranked Pittsburgh. It didn’t require multiple overtimes, as the 2012 meeting did, but the Irish trailed for most of the afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium.

Ian Book’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Miles Boykin with 5:43 remaining put the heavy favorites ahead to stay after a mistake-filled game. It was the 10th straight home win for Notre Dame.  

Pittsburgh was hoping to spring its third upset of a top-five team in as many years. In 2016, the Panthers knocked off No. 3 Clemson on the road in a 43-42 shootout, only to come back in 2017 to topple No. 2 Miami 24-14.

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Coming in Notre Dame had trailed for just two minutes, 13 seconds all season — all in the first quarter at Wake Forest on Sept. 22. The Irish hadn’t trailed at all for more than three full games (181:40) before the Panthers completed a 17-yard, 88-yard touchdown march that consumed nearly 10 minutes on the game clock in the first quarter.

The Irish halted a 10-game losing streak when trailing at the half, dating to Sept. 12, 2015. That’s when they climbed out of a 14-12 hole at the break at Virginia and won 34-27 on DeShone Kizer’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left.

Three reasons Notre Dame won:

FINAL CHAPTER

For just the second time in his young career, junior quarterback Ian Book threw a pair of interceptions, although his arm was hit on the second miscue. He also overshot Boykin in the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score late in the third quarter. But Book, now 4-0 as the starter since stepping in for Brandon Wimbush, also directed scoring drives of 71 and 80 yards with the Irish facing a 14-6 deficit.

SPECIAL HELP

The kickoff coverage team gave up a 99-yard touchdown return to Maurice Ffrench to open the second half, but sophomore kicker Alex Kessman missed on both field-goal attempts (from 47 and 36 yards) in the second half that could have given the upstarts some much-needed breathing room. Last week in a 44-37 win Syracuse, Kessman hit from 54, 55 and 45 yards, the last of those forcing overtime with eight seconds remaining.

CHIPPING IN

Starting cornerback Troy Pride Jr. sat out with a sprained ankle, forcing junior Donte Vaughn to start in his place. When Vaughn struggled early, freshman TaRiq Bracy stepped in and helped the Irish pass defense corral sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett, who was making his ninth career start but fell to 0-4 on the road.

Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2018/10/13/notre-dame-survives-pittsburgh-upset-bid/1632818002/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories