Nov 2, 2002
Final Stats |
Postgame Press Conferences
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) - Linebacker Josh Ott returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown, and
Boston College produced one of the biggest upsets of the season by defeating
the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish 14-7 Saturday.
Notre Dame (8-1) entered the game confident it had returned to its glory
years after a big win at Florida State last week. But the Irish gave the ball
away all day, and the Eagles (5-3) gladly took advantage, scoring both
touchdowns courtesy of first-half turnovers.
The bitter loss conjured memories of the 1993 season, when unbeaten Notre
Dame defeated Florida State and became No. 1, then lost the next week to Boston
College in the final game of the regular season.
The Fighting Irish were off to their best season since '93 before running
into the Eagles, who ended a 23-game regular-season losing streak against Top
25 teams. It was BC's first win over a top 10 team since beating a No. 8 Notre
Dame in 1994.
While Notre Dame was all but eliminated from national title contention, the
Fighting Irish can likely earn a berth in a BCS bowl game if they close out the
season with wins over Navy and Rutgers and USC.
Derrick Knight, who finished with 129 yards, ran 3 yards for a first-quarter
touchdown five plays after Ott recovered a fumble by tailback Ryan Grant.
The clincher came when Irish backup Pat Dillingham threw a shovel pass right
to Ott, who caught the ball in stride and ran untouched for the score with 4:03
left in the first half.
Notre Dame, with an offense ranked 109th of 117 I-A teams, finally scored
with 2:25 left when Carlyle Holiday threw a 20-yard TD pass to Maurice Stovall.
The Irish did not try an onside kick but got the ball back at their 24 with
12 seconds remaining. After a holding penalty knocked eight seconds off the
clock, Holiday's final desperation pass was batted down at the BC 37 as the
Eagles rushed the field and celebrated.
The loss was the first under new coach Tyrone Willingham, who fell a win
short of matching former coaches Ara Parseghian and Jesse Harper for the most
consecutive wins to start a coaching career at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame came out in green jerseys, the first time the Irish wore the
color at home since Oct. 26, 1985. That's when Notre Dame changed from blue to
green jerseys at halftime of a 37-3 win over USC. The Irish lost the last time
they wore green - 35-28 to Georgia Tech in the 1999 Gator Bowl.
Trailing 14-0 at the half, Notre Dame fumbled away two scoring chances early
in the third quarter. One drive ended at the BC 11 when Marcus Wilson fumbled
and Eagles defensive tackle Tim Bulman recovered. But Boston College gave the
ball back when Gerome Sapp intercepted a pass by Brian St. Pierre. Two plays
later, Grant fumbled again, and Bulman recovered again at the BC 22.
Dillingham replaced an ineffective Holiday in the second quarter. But the
sophomore, who led the Irish to two wins earlier this season when he replaced
an injured Holiday, was not up to the task. He threw two interceptions, and
Holiday came in for the second half.
A Notre Dame Stadium record crowd of 80,935 showed up on a sunny but chilly
day. Most expected the Irish to put away the Eagles, then go into USC unbeaten
on Nov. 30, with a chance to make it to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
But the Irish, who were among the nation's leaders in turnover margin, had
five turnovers; they lost three of seven fumbles to go with the two
Boston College took a 6-0 lead with 2:39 left in the first period. Holiday
was unable to stick the ball in Grant's belly, and Ott pounced on the loose
ball at the Irish 38. Knight set up his TD run with a 22-yard dash. The
extra-point kick was wide left.
When the Irish took possession 3:51 into the third quarter, Holiday was out
and Dillingham in. On his second series, he made the biggest mistake of the
With Notre Dame facing third-and-6 at the BC 14, Dillingham dropped back to
pass, but the Eagles put on a ferocious rush. The quarterback sidestepped one
defender, then inexplicably tried to throw the ball away with a shovel pass.
But Ott caught it and ran for the TD with 4:03 left in the half. Brian St.
Pierre threw to Sean Ryan for the 2-point conversion, and the Eagles led 14-0.