Oct. 13, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) – Matt Ryan kept Notre Dame from getting payback on unbeaten Boston College.
Ryan used a series of screens and short passes to keep the blitzing Irish off balance and threw two touchdowns to lead the fourth-ranked Eagles to a 27-14 victory over Notre Dame.
The Irish were hoping to put a damper on BC’s national title hopes as the Eagles had done when they cost Notre Dame a national championship in 1993. They threatened, but just couldn’t pull it out.
BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said he never viewed the game against the Irish (1-6) as a trap game because he knew his team wouldn’t take Notre Dame lightly.
“Our kids were so excited about coming out here and playing this football game. It’s a great rivalry,” he said.
Jagodzinski said his message has stayed consistent against each opponent.
“I told our guys we can’t get to where we want to go unless we keep taking care of business every week,” he said.
Boston College is 7-0 for just the fifth time in 107 seasons, the first time since 1942, and beat its rival Notre Dame for the fifth straight time. The Irish lead the series between the only two Catholic schools to play major college football 9-8, but the Eagles have won six of the last seven.
The Eagles appeared ready to blow the game open when Ryan threw a 9-yard scoring pass to Andre Callender to make it 20-0 with 11:42 left in the third quarter. The score was set up when Tyronne Pruitt intercepted a pass by Jimmy Clausen and returned it 30 yards to the Notre Dame 11.
However, the Irish scored a pair of touchdowns 95 seconds apart to cut it to 20-14. Evan Sharpley, who replaced the ineffective Jimmy Clausen at quarterback, threw a 19-yard TD pass to Robby Parris and linebacker Brian Smith returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
The Eagles quickly regained control after the Irish were called for excessive celebration and penalized 15 yards on the kickoff. Brad Newman returned the kick 18 yards to the Notre Dame 44 and the Eagles needed only five plays to score. Ryan, throwing quickly to beat the blitz, hit Kevin Challenger for a 13-yard TD to make it 27-14.
Ryan said he wasn’t flustered after throwing the interception for a Notre Dame TD.
“Right after you throw a pick that goes for six you want to come right back out fighting,” Ryan said. “At this point in my career I’ve thrown plenty of picks. You just have to block it out. As a quarterback you definitely have to have temporary amnesia and go out there and keep chucking it. That’s what we did.”
Despite the constant blitzing, the Irish didn’t sack Ryan.
“He’s got a really quick release,” Notre Dame nose tackle Pat Kuntz said. “He’s good, and there’s nothing much else I can say about that. He’s probably the best quarterback we’ve seen.”
Ryan, 21-4 as a starter, was 32-of-49 passing. Callender caught 10 passes for 91 yards and rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries, including TD runs of 7 and 1 yards.
The Irish offense struggled again, managing just 222 yards total offense. BC, which entered as the No. 3 defense against the run holding opponents to 49.7 yards a game, held the Irish to 27 yards rushing. It was the fifth time this season the Irish were held to less than 50 yards rushing.
Clausen started but failed to lead the Irish to a score. He was 7-of-20 for 60 yards and was pulled after he threw his second interception on Notre Dame’s first offensive play of the second half. That set up BC’s third touchdown.
Sharpley was 11-of-29 for 135 yards. Coach Charlie Weis said he would have to review the tape before deciding who will start against USC next week.
“I’m never big on blaming the quarterback for the lack of production on the offense,” Weis said.
Weis said the biggest problem for the Irish were too many mistakes. The Irish had the excessive celebration penalty set up one score, the interception set up another and the punter’s knee touching the ground another.
“I think we had a chance in this game, but the bottom line is they won 27-14,” he said. “If I sit there and say, ‘God if we were just better on that snap, or if we would have hit this one pass or if we didn’t get a penalty. …’ But the thing is, we did.”