Nov 3, 2001
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Casey Clausen threw a go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter and then scored from a yard out with 35 seconds left as No. 7 Tennessee defeated mistake-prone Notre Dame 28-18 on Saturday.
The Irish (3-5) lost a final chance to pull out a win when Carlyle Holiday’s pass was intercepted at the Notre Dame 25 with 2:41 left and Tennessee ahead by three points. The Vols (6-1) came right back and Clausen added the clinching score.
Notre Dame, which may not qualify for a bowl game after playing in the Fiesta Bowl last season, also fumbled away two scoring chances inside Tennessee’s 18-yard line in the first half.
Clausen completed 10 of 17 passes for 150 yards in the third quarter as the Vols scored two TDs to take the lead. His 17-yard TD pass to Donte Stallworth gave Tennessee a 21-10 lead.
The Irish have lost at least five games three times during coach Bob Davie’s five-year tenure and moved within a loss of their second losing season in three years. The Irish also dropped to 6-14 against ranked teams and 1-7 against teams in the Top 10.
Notre Dame closed to 21-18 with 8:04 left on a 17-play, 75-yard drive in which the Irish converted on four third downs and a fourth-and-3. Tony Fisher fought his way through a line of Tennessee defenders for the touchdown, then added a 2-point conversion on a shovel pass from Holiday.
The Irish then held the Volunteers on their next possession. But on Notre Dame’s second play, Holiday’s pass was intercepted by Dominique Stevenson.
Tennessee running back Travis Stephens, who sat out a series in the second quarter with a bruised shin, was held to a season-low 64 yards on 24 carries.
Julius Jones led the Irish with 46 yards rushing. Holiday, who had averaged 115 yards the previous four games, had 12 carries for minus 8 yards. He had his best game passing, completing 13-of-24 for 146 yards with one interception.
John Henderson, the Outland Trophy winner last season as the top interior lineman, didn’t have a tackle until the fourth quarter and finished with three tackles.
The Irish dominated the first half, outgaining the Volunteers 198-97. But they squandered three scoring chances.
First, the Irish had the ball second-and-6 from the Tennessee 20. But under pressure, Holiday pitched the ball on the option out of bounds for a 9-yard loss. Albert Haynesworth then sacked Holiday for a 7-yard loss to take the Irish out of field goal range.
On Notre Dame’s next possession, the Irish were about to score when Arnaz Battle went 18 yards on a reverse before fumbling on the 1 when hit by safety Julian Battle. Defensive end Constantin Ritzmann recovered.
The Irish were driving again on their next possession when freshman Ryan Grant was hit by Mark Jones at the 15. The ball bounced back to the 19 where Julian Battle scooped it up and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown.
The Irish finally scored on their next possession, a 10-play, 52-yard drive in which Holiday completed 5-of-6 passes for 53 yards. Nicholas Setta kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at halftime.
Notre Dame went ahead 10-7 early in the third quarter on a 31-yard interception return by Courtney Watson.
The Vols improved to 4-2 against the Irish, one of only five major schools with a winning record against Notre Dame. The others are Michigan (17-11-1), Nebraska (8-7-1), Florida State (3-1) and Georgia (1-0).