Oct. 22, 2005
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – The drama was gone from Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday. The Fighting Irish couldn’t have been happier.
After losing four straight at home – each in the final minute – the Irish made sure there would be no last-minute disappointments, beating Brigham Young 49-23 Saturday behind Brady Quinn’s school-record six touchdown passes.
“It feels so good to see the clock run out and have a winning score,” Quinn said.
It was the first home win for Charlie Weis, the first Irish coach in 109 years to lose his first two home games – an overtime loss to Michigan State and in the final seconds to No. 1 USC.
“I’m a lot more happy for them than I am for me,” Weis said.
Quinn was 32-of-41 for 467 yards, his third 400-yard passing game of the season. He broke the mark of five TD passes he set against Michigan State earlier this season. He was 25-of-30 in the first half for a school-record 287 yards.
Maurice Stovall, the first Irish receiver with four TD catches in a game, caught a career-high 14 passes for 207 yards. Jeff Samardzija had 10 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Stovall and Samardzija, who are both 6-foot-5, became the first Irish receivers to each have more than 10 catches in the same game, repeatedly going over smaller BYU defenders to catch passes.
“Notre Dame’s passing game was better than our coverage in every instance today,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
The Fighting Irish (5-2), who were beaten by BYU last season when they were held to 11 yards rushing, didn’t try to run much against the Cougars (3-4) until the reserves were playing in the fourth quarter, instead depending on Quinn’s passing to open up the BYU defense.
“I think it was our best performance of the season,” Quinn said.
The game lacked the drama of the previous week’s near-miss against USC. With students out of school for fall break, there wasn’t the buzz around campus there was the week before. The crowd of 80,795 was enthusiastic, but nowhere near as raucous. Friday’s pep rally was held inside and had about a quarter as many fans as the 45,000 who showed for the USC pep rally. There was no Joe Montana, no Tim Brown, no Rudy, nowhere near as many media and no green jerseys.
There was a win, though, and that’s all the Irish cared about.
“It feels real good, especially coming off an emotional loss,” said Irish safety Tom Zbikowki, who had an 83-yard interception return for a touchdown. “It’s been a while since we won here.”
BYU, which saw its two-game winning streak come to an end, lost its 12th straight to a ranked opponent.
After falling behind 28-10 early in the third quarter when Quinn threw a 21-yard TD pass to Samardzija, the Cougars rallied briefly to make the game interesting. John Beck threw a 24-yard pass to Jonny Harline to set up a 10-yard scoring run by Beck.
After holding the Irish three-and-out, Nathan Meikle returned a punt 22 yards to the Notre Dame 33 to set up BYU’s next score. Beck threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Todd Watkins to cut the lead to 28-23. BYU went for the 2-point conversion, but Beck’s pass was intercepted by Zbikowski.
Quinn quickly regained control, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to Samardzija and a 24-yard scoring pass to Stovall to give the Irish a 42-23 lead. The pass to Stovall gave Quinn 19 TD passes for the season, tying the school mark set by Ron Powlus in 1994.
It was a frustrating game for BYU.
“What happened with our secondary? They played better than we did,” BYU cornerback Kayle Buchanan said. “It was maddening. I didn’t get depressed or anything like that because I know we’re a better team than that. But, it was maddening. We were taught better than we played today.”
Beck was 26-of-45 passing for 317 yards with two interceptions. Harline finished with eight catches for 100 yards.
Quinn, who extended his record of consecutive games with TD passes to 12, also moved ahead of Steve Beuerlein into second place on Notre Dame’s career passing yards. Quinn has thrown for 6,769 yards. Powlus is the school career leader with 7,602.
Samardzija, who had TD catches of 14 and 21 yards, became the first Irish receiver to have TD catches in seven straight games, breaking the mark set by Malcolm Johnson in 1998. He also tied the school record of 11 TD catches in a season set by Derrick Mayes in 1994.