Oct. 21, 2000
By JOHN RABY
AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Not too long ago Notre Dame was 2-2 and got booted from the Top 25 rankings. Now the Irish have won three straight and are slowly making their case for a Bowl Championship Series berth.
Freshman Matt LoVecchio threw two touchdown passes to Tony Fisher and No. 20 Notre Dame scored 35 straight points for a 42-28 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
After a blowout win over Navy last week in Orlando, Fla., Notre Dame coach Bob Davie told the team he was raising his expectations. And the Irish responded Saturday, scoring more than 40 points and setting season highs for rushing for the second straight week.
“If we keep winning, things will take care of themselves,” Fisher said. “We’re playing with confidence. The big thing is, everybody is having fun and being productive.”
The Irish (5-2) broke a seven-game losing streak on an opponent’s field, a school record. Notre Dame now heads home for games against Air Force and Boston College before closing the regular season on the road against Rutgers and Southern Cal.
“We are becoming more confident. It’s fun to be going in the right direction,” Davie said. “Overall, we are a healthy football team. We want to get stronger as we go. The attitude is really positive right now and I like this team.”
Making his third start, LoVecchio was 8-of-16 for 94 yards but didn’t throw an interception. He also ran for 39 yards.
“I still had some forced throws today but we put some points on the board and didn’t turn the ball over,” LoVecchio said. “We’ve been taking care of the football this year and that’s a part of being successful on offense.”
Davie said the Irish are now calling LoVecchio their leader.
“When you say he’s not a freshman anymore, that’s a good thing,” Davie said.
West Virginia (4-3) allowed more than 40 points to a Top 25 opponent for the third straight time this season. The Mountaineers have lost six straight to ranked teams dating to 1998.
West Virginia wasn’t the same after quarterback Brad Lewis got sandwiched between two defenders on a scramble and sprained his right knee in the second quarter. He did not return.
Behind freshman Scott McBrien, the Mountaineers managed just one first down in seven possessions afterward. The Irish took control with three touchdowns in the final seven minutes before halftime.
Third-string tailback Terrence Howard weaved through several tacklers on his way to an 80-yard TD romp to tie the game at 14. It was Notre Dame’s longest run in four years and the longest-ever TD run by an opponent at Mountaineer Field.
The run certainly impressed Davie.
“I’m not sure he’s not the starter right now,” the coach said.
On the Mountaineers’ next possession, punter Mark Fazzolari caught a high snap but was unable to get off the punt and was tackled at the West Virginia 16. After linebacker Corey McIntyre dropped an interception, flanker David Givens scored on a 5-yard run on the next play.
Notre Dame got the ball back with 22 seconds left in the half and needed just one play to take a 28-14 lead on LoVecchio’s 36-yard pass to Fisher, who also scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter.
The onslaught continued into the third quarter. Givens’ 52-yard option pass to Joey Getherall – Notre Dame’s longest pass play of the season – set up LoVecchio’s 7-yard TD toss to Fisher.
Getherall capped Notre Dame’s scoring with a 73-yard punt return for a 42-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
West Virginia ate up too much clock time trying to mount a comeback.
Wes Ours, a 290-pound lineman-turned-fullback, scored six minutes apart on a 1-yard run and a 2-yard pass from Scott McBrien. They were the first career touchdowns for Ours and McBrien.
West Virginia then drove to the Notre Dame 4 but Avon Cobourne was tackled for a loss on fourth-and-2 with six minutes left in the game and the threat was over.
“We allowed too many big plays, which spelled doom for us,” said West Virginia coach Don Nehlen, who failed for the second straight game to get his 200th career win. “If we could eliminate the big plays against us, this could be an excellent football team.”
Notre Dame rushed for a season-high 227 yards. Howard finished with 96 yards and Fisher had 43.with 96 yards