Oct. 25, 2003
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON – At least Boston College didn’t ruin Notre Dame’s season this time. The Irish took care of that themselves, long before they came to Chestnut Hill.
A year after spoiling Notre Dame’s hopes for a national championship, BC won 27-25 on a last-minute field goal Saturday to severely damage Notre Dame’s hopes of making any bowl at all. The Eagles fell behind after blowing an 18-point lead but won when Sandro Sciortino kicked a 26-yarder with 38 seconds left.
“I told the team that everything was excused right now,” BC coach Tom O’Brien said. “They’ve beaten Notre Dame four times in five years and three years in a row. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.
“If you coach or play at Boston College, you have to beat Notre Dame. That’s one thing you have to get done. It’s a powerful, powerful win for this team.”
The Eagles (5-3) led 24-6 before Notre Dame (2-5) rallied and took the lead when Nate Schiccatano blocked a punt and Carlos Campbell ran it 25 yards for a touchdown with 3:34 left.
“I thought it was over there, with momentum on our side,” Schiccatano said. “All we were going to need to do was play defense.”
But Will Blackmon ran the kickoff back 42 yards to almost midfield, and Quinton Porter marched the BC to the 8 for Sciortino’s chip shot.
“Too little, too late,” Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said. “We did some great things, but we were behind the 8-ball. Once you have a lead, you’ve got to find a way to hold onto it. We didn’t make enough good plays to stop them. It started with the kickoff return.”
It’s the first time in the rivalry between the nation’s only Division I-A football-playing Catholic universities that BC has won three in a row. Last year, the Eagles won 14-7 in South Bend to send the then-unbeaten and fourth-ranked Irish into a slump from which they have yet to recover.
Notre Dame has lost eight of 12 games since then. With No. 6 Florida State next, the Irish are in danger of falling out of bowl contention.
“It stinks, man, losing five games,” Notre Dame running back Julius Jones said. “I think everybody’s got to motivate themselves.”
Porter completed 13 of 25 passes for 199 yards, and he also ran 16 times for a career-high 41 yards and a touchdown. Derrick Knight, the nation’s leading rusher, ran for just 43 yards on 23 carries after sitting out about a quarter with a leg injury, but Horace Dodd filled in with 64 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Brady Quinn was 23-for-39 for 350 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Notre Dame. Jones managed just 40 yards on 15 carries, but he broke Tim Brown’s school record for career return yards on the opening kickoff.
On the next play, Quinn hit Maurice Stovall with a 51-yard pass that put the ball on the BC 27. But the Irish were forced to settle for a field goal that made it 3-0.
Late in the first, Knight apparently twisted his ankle after he was forced out of bounds and came out of the game until the second quarter. But Dodd replaced him and ran for 5 and 9 yards to set up Porter’s 26-yard touchdown pass to David Kashetta that gave the Eagles a 7-3 lead.
Notre Dame was forced to punt on its next possession, and Nathaniel Hasselbeck ran the kick back 43 yards to the Irish 39. With the ball on the 30, Dodd ran 2 yards on a fourth-and-1, then broke free for 24 yards before scoring from the 4 to give BC a 14-3 lead.
After the teams traded field goals, Quinn was stopped on third-and-1 for no gain and Jared Clark was stopped on fourth down, giving BC the ball at the Irish 44. On a fourth-and-7 with 4:30 left in the third, Grant Adams pulled in Porter’s pass with his fingertips and took it 28 yards to the 3.
Two plays later, Porter scrambled for a touchdown, diving for the pylon to give the Eagles a 24-6 lead.
The Irish made it 24-12 when Quinn hit Omar Jenkins with a 10-yard TD pass just before the end of the third period. But when they went for 2 – a key decision, it turned out – Quinn’s pass fell incomplete.
Notre Dame closed the gap when BC punter Jeff Gomulinski took a bad snap and tried to run with it, but failed to make a first down. Notre Dame took over on the BC 23 with 12:50 left, and on the next play, Stovall outjumped a defender at the goal line to make it 24-19.