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Notre Dame holds on to lead in 37-34 win over Arizona State

ARLINGTON TX - OCTOBER 05:  MariGrice #1 ArizonState Sun Devils runs ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish Cowboys Stadium

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: Marion Grice #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Cowboys Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Updated: October 5, 2013 10:34PM



Arlington, Texas – Notre Dame found another way to pull out a close game.

Kyle Brindza made a field goal with 3 minutes, 3 seconds to go and Dan Fox returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown as the Irish defeated Arizona State 37-34 in front of 66,960 fans Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

The Irish (4-2) built an 11-point lead late in the third quarter when quarterback Tommy Rees threw a 21-yard touchdown to tight end Troy Niklas.

But the Sun Devils (3-2) rallied. Cornerback Osahon Irabor intercepted a pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, cutting Notre Dame’s lead to 24-20.

Brindza made a 33-yard field goal to stretch the lead to seven. But Arizona State tied the game on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Kelly to De’Marieya Nelson with 8:18 remaining.

The Irish marched down the field with some lengthy runs by Cam McDaniel. Notre Dame got inside Arizona State’s 10, but the drive stalled. Brindza then made the go-ahead field goal.

The Sun Devils attempted a final charge, but Notre Dame’s defense came up big. Matthias Farley intercepted a pass on fourth down. Arizona State had another crack, but Fox intercepted a pass and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Arizona State scored a late touchdown in the final seconds, but TJ Jones recovered an onside kick to clinch the win.

Notre Dame had to stage a rally of its own to get out of an early hole.

Rees went 4 of 6 during a seven-play, 72-yard drive, which ended with a 19-yard touchdown reception for Ben Koyack. It was the first catch of the season for the tight end –and the first touchdown of his career – as Notre Dame grabbed a 7-6 lead with 3:35 to go in the first half.

The lead didn’t last long. Arizona State needed just 2 minutes, 3 seconds to go 78 yards for a touchdown.

The Sun Devils gambled on fourth-and-four from Notre Dame’s 36 and decided to go for it. As the play-clock neared zero, Taylor Kelly took the snap and then threw a perfect pass to Jaelen Strong for a 36-yard touchdown.

Notre Dame responded regained the lead before halftime. Rees completed three passes of at least 10 yards in the drive as the Irish reached Arizona State’s 3.

A penalty pushed Notre Dame back five yards, but Rees then threw an 8-yard touchdown to Jones and the Irish went to halftime ahead 14-13.

Brindza nailed a 53-yard field goal early in the third quarter. It tied the Notre Dame record for the longest field goal in school history (Dave Reeve, 1976 against Pittsburgh).

Notre Dame’s defense set up the team’s next points. Fox recovered a fumble later in the quarter. Two plays later, Rees threw the touchdown to Niklas.

The defense came through again when it counted in the fourth quarter, as the Irish got the bounce-back victory.

lpope@post-trib.com

@lamondpope



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