November 7, 1998
BOSTON (AP) – Notre Dame’s run for the Rose Bowl continues, barely.
Irish free safety Deke Cooper stopped Mike Cloud on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with six seconds left and No. 13 Notre Dame held off Boston College 31-26 on Saturday.
The Eagles (3-6) gave the Irish all they could handle, and put themselves in position for a startling upset. But Cloud, among the nation’s leading rushers, was unable to score on four cracks from the Irish 4.
On third-and goal from the 1, linebacker Jimmy Friday stood up Cloud at the goal line and, after a timeout, Cloud got the call again. He ran left, but Cooper knifed through the line and turned him away from the end zone. The Irish players jumped in the air in celebration as their teammates rushed the field to join in. Jarious Jackson then took the final snap and the Irish (7-1) escaped with their sixth straight victory.
Jackson threw two touchdown passes and Autry Denson ran for 128 yards and two scores as the Irish held a 31-20 lead with 9:23 left before the Eagles (3-6) began their comeback.
Scott Mutryn threw a 6-yard TD pass to Anthony DiCosmo with 5:54 to go, but the 2-point conversion pass failed. The Irish then held on as Mutryn – 22-of-35 for 318 yards and two TDs – nearly led the Eagles to an unlikely victory. Instead, BC lost its sixth in a row, the Eagles’ longest losing streak in 20 years.
Despite the close call, Notre Dame still remains a top attraction for the Rose Bowl if it can win its final three games, against Navy, LSU and Southern Californian. Only the Trojans have a winning record. The Irish last appeared in the Rose Bowl in 1925, when Knute Rockne was the coach.
Notre Dame moved to a 31-20 lead when Jackson, facing third-and-21 from his 6, scrambled into the end zone, took a step out and found Malcolm Johnson for 68 yards to the Eagles 27. Four plays later, Denson ran two yards for a TD.
Denson, who finished with 128 yards, needs 47 more yards to become the Irish’s career rushing leader. Jackson was 10-of-21 for 210 yards. For BC, Cloud had 28 carries for 141 yards and a TD.
Boston College led 17-14 at the half thanks to John Matich’s 42-yard field goal with three seconds left following a pass interference call against cornerback Brock Williams. Earlier, Williams was beaten for a touchdown and a 51-yard gainer to set up BC’s second TD.
Faced with fourth-and-6 at the Irish 40, Mutryn threw toward the end zone, where flanker Jermaine Walker had Williams beat. But Williams bumped Walker and the 15-yard penalty gave Matich the yardage he needed to put the Eagles ahead.
The Irish led 14-7 early in the second quarter on Jackson’s 29-yard TD pass to Joey Getherall. Boston College came back on the arm of Mutryn, who threw 21 yards to DiCosmo before hooking up with his split end on a 23-yard TD pass with 9:21 left in the half.
With a sellout crowd of 44,500 at Alumni Stadium watching on a crisp fall day, the Irish took a 7-0 lead on the game’s first possession. Jackson hit 4-of-5 passes for 51 yards and then ran 12 yards to set up Denson’s 1-yard TD run.
The Eagles came back late in the opening quarter when Mutryn barely avoided a sack and then hit Walker – who beat Williams on the play – for 51 yards to the Notre Dame 11. On the next play, Cloud scooted around left end for the score.