Oct. 6, 2001
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Carlyle Holiday ran for 122 yards and scored on a 67-yard run to cap a 99-yard drive as Notre Dame broke out of its offensive slump to beat Pittsburgh 24-7 on Saturday.
Julius Jones scored on runs of 5 and 1 yard and the Irish, who entered the game scoring a worst-in-the-nation 23 points in three games, scored 17 points in the second half.
The seven points by Pitt (1-3) were the fewest given up by Notre Dame since a 30-0 victory over Navy in 1998.
The Irish (1-3), who had opened the season with three straight losses for the first time in the school’s 114-year history, took advantage of five Pitt turnovers. On one, Pitt receiver R.J. English was running untouched at the 4 when the ball slipped out of his hand. Notre Dame safety Abram Elam, who had an interception earlier, recovered the ball on the 1.
Tony Fisher broke through the line and looked as though he might be on his way to a 98-yard touchdown run, but pulled his right hamstring and fell at the 30.
Two plays later, Holiday started running left, stopped, cut up the middle, broke one tackle and appeared to be stopped until he was hit by Pitt defensive back Shawn Robinson and broke free, outracing defenders to the end zone to give the Irish a 17-7 lead with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
Before the runs by Fisher and Holiday, the Irish had run just one play for more than 20 yards all season.
The Irish, aided by a pass interference call on cornerback Torrie Cox, added a 1-yard TD run by Jones with 5:13 left in the game.
The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Irish dating back to its 41-9 loss to Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl. It also was Notre Dame’s 14th straight win in the month of October, giving coach Bob Davie a 15-2 record in October.
Holiday had 19 carries, averaging 6.4 yards a run, and was 10 of 13 passing for 70 yards. He completed nine passes in a row. The Irish finished with a season-high 319 yards offense, including 249 yards rushing.
David Priestley was 10-of-19 for 163 yards for 163 yards with two interceptions. The Panthers had 232 yards total offense, including just 50 yards rushing.
The Irish defense, which didn’t have an interception before Saturday and had forced only two fumbles, had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Elam had an interception on Pitt’s opening drive, marking the first time this season an opponent failed to score on the Irish on its opening drive.
Pitt didn’t score in the first quarter, marking the first time the Notre Dame defense held a team scoreless in the first quarter since a 34-31 overtime victory against Air Force last Oct. 28 – a span of eight games. The Panthers did score 5 seconds into the second quarter, however.
Notre Dame took its first lead of the season when it scored late in the first quarter on a 5-yard run by Jones to cap a 52-yard drive – Notre Dame’s longest touchdown drive of the season at that point. Its previous longest TD drive had been for 6 yards against Michigan State.
The only other TD drive was for 4 yards against Nebraska following a blocked punt.
The Irish kept the lead for only 3:36, however, as Pitt responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 32-yard pass from Priestley to Antonio Bryant. Bryant, who had been hampered by a sprained left ankle, raced past Jason Beckstrom and was open in the end zone when he caught his first TD pass of the season. He was injured early in the season opener against East Tennessee State and wasn’t at full speed last week against No. 1 Miami, catching three passes for 39 yards.
He had six catches for 95 yards against the Irish.
Nicholas Setta kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Irish a 10-7 lead with 6:05 left in the third quarter.