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Irish Football Puts Away West Virginia, 34-24

Oct 13, 2001

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Associated Press Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Tony Fisher scored on runs of 25 and 55 yards and Julius Jones ran for two touchdowns as Notre Dame beat West Virginia 34-24 on a rainy Saturday.

Carlyle Holiday led the Irish (2-3) with 130 yards rushing on 19 carries and Fisher added 119 yards on 22 carries as Notre Dame rushed for 345 yards, its best rushing game since running for 380 against Boston College last season. The Irish had rushed for a total of 269 yards in losing their first three games.

Trailing 27-24 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers (2-4) were driving when Brad Lewis threw the ball deep and it was picked off by Justin Smith at the 12. Smith returned the ball to the 45, and Fisher put the game away on the next play, running 55 yards down the right side.

The loss was the third straight for West Virginia, which had given up 325 yards rushing in its season-opening loss against Boston College.

Fisher and Jones became the first Notre Dame backs to rush for two touchdowns each in a game in five years. Holiday and Fisher became the first Irish players to rush for more than 100 yards each in a game since Fisher and Jarious Jackson accomplished the feat against Oklahoma in 1999.

Jones added 92 yards on 23 carries, scoring on a 1-yard run and a 19-yard run as Notre Dame had 415 yards total offense to 270 yards for West Virginia. The Irish had an advantage in time of possession of 37:54 to 22:06.

Avon Cobourne, coming off a career-low 31 yards rushing against Virginia Tech, rushed for 169 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown. It was his fourth 100-yard rushing game this season. Lewis threw a 12-yard TD pass to A.J. Nastasi and an 8-yard scoring pass to Tory Johnson.

Lewis was 9-of-23 passing for 91 yards. Holiday was 7-of-14 for 70 yards with one interception.

Notre Dame’s Nicholas Setta kicked field goals of 21 and 42 yards. On the 42-yard field goal it appeared a West Virginia player threw a towel up in the air that came close to the ball. Brenden Rauh kicked a 33-yard field goal for the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers appeared to be on the verge of taking over the game in the third quarter. They tied it at 17 on Nastasi’s TD catch while the Irish were blitzing. It was the first time this season the Irish have given up any points in the third quarter.

The Mountaineers moved ahead 24-17 on their next possession, driving 49 yards on seven plays with Johnson catching the 8-yard TD pass.

The Irish came back immediately, however. Holiday appeared to run for a 61-yard touchdown, but officials ruled he stepped out on the 25-yard line. Fisher scored on the next play, however to tie the score.

On its first possession, Notre Dame scored on two plays as Holiday went 27 yards on an option and Jones scored on a 19-yard run 1:15 into the game. It was the fastest Notre Dame touchdown in four years.

The Mountaineers scored three plays later on Cobourne’s 60-yard TD, the longest run of his career.

The Mountaineers were without reserve tailback Cooper Rego, who decided to stay home after Notre Dame officials threatened to arrest him on a trespassing charge if he showed up at the stadium. Rego was expelled from Notre Dame as a freshman and banned from campus for life after a woman accused him of rape. No criminal charges were ever filed.