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Notre Dame beats Stanford in overtime to stay unbeaten

SOUTH BEND IN - OCTOBER 13:  Stepfan Taylor #33 Stanford Cardinal is stopped short goal by members Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13: Stepfan Taylor #33 of the Stanford Cardinal is stopped short of the goal by members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense on the last play of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: October 13, 2012 6:30PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s impenetrable defense made two straight stops from the half-yard line in overtime to preserve a wild 20-13 victory over No. 17 Stanford on Saturday. Quarterback Tommy Rees was the closer once again for Notre Dame, which now has a wide-open path to a BCS bowl game with a 6-0 record and only two ranked opponents left on the schedule.

With Everett Golson knocked out of the game on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, Rees came in and guided the Irish to a 22-yard, game-tying field goal with 20 seconds left. In overtime, after taking a sack on first down, he made three straight completions — the last being a 7-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Jones.

Notre Dame’s defense — which hadn’t allowed a touchdown in 16 quarters — held firm yet again after Stanford set up first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. The last two Stepfan Taylor runs came from inside the 1, and he was turned away both times, securing a brutally difficult and critically important victory for the seventh-ranked Irish.

Trailing 10-3, and after a brutal first three quarters in which he fumbled four times — losing three of them, including one in the end zone that went for Stanford’s only touchdown of the game — Golson responded in a big way, leading a 52-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert on third-and-18 early in the fourth quarter. That tied the score at 10-10.

Stanford answered right back, marching all the way to the Notre Dame 3-yard line before settling for a 27-yard Jordan Williamson field goal to take a 13-10 lead. It was a 16-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up eight minutes and left the Irish with just 6:06 on the clock.

Cierre Wood opened the ensuing drive with a 17-yard run, and Golson had a big third-down conversion pass to T.J. Jones. But Golson was then knocked out of the game with a helmet-to-helmet hit at midfield. Tommy Rees came in, and a completion to Eifert and a pass interference call on third down set up Kyle Brindza’s game-tying 22-yard field goal with 20 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.

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