Nov. 1, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Coming off a disappointing loss, Pittsburgh didn't flinch when Notre Dame scored a pair of touchdowns 83 second apart to open a 14-point halftime lead.
Pitt scored on its opening drive after halftime and the Panthers' defense held the Irish to 7 yards on 10 plays in the third quarter.
Then the Panthers scored twice in the fourth quarter, tying it each time, before Conor Lee kicked his school-record fifth field goal in the fourth overtime to lead Pitt to a 36-33 victory on Saturday.
"I can't describe the heart our football team has," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "They never came unglued. As many adverse things that happened in the game, turnovers and so forth, nobody ever folded, nobody ever lost their poise, lost their confidence."
Although Lee, a senior, is one of the nation's top kickers, the final 22-yard kick was the first game-winning field goal of his career.
"It's something I think every kicker wants to have happen," Lee said. "I was like, 'I guess I won the game. Time to celebrate."
The Panthers, who haven't been to a bowl since the 2004 season, are now bowl eligible and a victory shy of giving Wannstedt his first winning record in four seasons.
"To sum it up, we get in overtime, you don't score touchdowns, you know sooner or later something bad can happen," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said.
Neither team could get into the end zone in OT, and Lee won the kicking contest.
Notre Dame's Walker, who started the season by making just 1-of-7 field goals, made his first four attempts to run his consecutive made field goal streak to seven. But his 38-yard attempt narrowly missed wide left in the fourth overtime, giving Pitt a chance to kick its way to a win.
Weis said he told Walker afterward not to blame himself, telling him: "I could give 50 plays right now that would have made a difference."
LeSean McCoy, who rushed for a season-high 169 yards on 32 carries, set up the game-winner with an 18-yard run as the sophomore reached 1,000 yards for a second straight season. Wannstedt said McCoy's performance was especially important with starting quarterback Bill Stull out with a concussion he sustained against Rugers.
McCoy had just 5 yards on three carries in the first half and 68 yards at the end of the third quarter.
"The best thing that he did today was that he showed toughness at the end," Wannstedt said.
McCoy, who had his fifth straight 100-yard game, said he was hurrying things early in the game, but finally relaxed. "I kind of let all this hype and Notre Dame just get to me, and I just settled down," he said.
Pitt forced the overtime when they tied the score at 24 with 2:22 left on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bostick to Jonathan Baldwin on fourth-and-6. The Panthers ran the same play three straight times before Bostick beat Irish cornerback Terrail Lambert for the score.
"The first two, I was trying to be perfect with it. Then I just tried to give him a chance, what do you got to lose? Third time's a charm, fourth down, what do you got to lose? I threw it up there and he went up and made a play," Bostick said.
Bostick started the game slow, completing 3-of-6 passes for 24 yards with one interception in the first half. He finished the game 14-of-27 for 164 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, two by Raeshon McNeil.
Jimmy Clausen threw three touchdown passes, including a 6-yard score to Golden Tate with 5:38 left to put the Irish and two touchdowns to Michael Floyd just before halftime. He was 23-of-44 passing for 271 yards with no interceptions.
Floyd, who broke the record for catches by a Notre Dame freshman, had 10 catches for 100 yards and Tate had six for 111.