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After strange finish, North Carolina beats Notre Dame

Oct 12, 2008 - 1:15 AM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina survived a bizarre finish after Jimmy Clausen's desperate attempt to rally Notre Dame fell nine yards short.

Quarterback Cameron Sexton scored on a short touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Tar Heels ahead for the first time and they held on to defeat the mistake-prone Fighting Irish, 29-24, on Saturday.

Notre Dame (4-2) got a break when a long completion to Brooks Foster on third down was reversed by replay late in the fourth quarter. The catch would have allowed the Tar Heels to run out the clock, but the officials ruled Foster did not have control of the ball as he hit the ground.

Notre Dame took over at its 18 with 1:47 left, and Clausen completed four passes while effectively executing the two-minute offense, including a 23-yard completion to Michael Floyd down to the 9-yard line.

The final seconds appeared to tick off the clock after the completion, but the ending of the game was delayed several moments by a review that showed Floyd fumbled with two seconds remaining.

Sexton took a knee, and North Carolina officially had a hard-earned victory.

'I saw it clearly as a fumble and I think most everyone else did," North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. "The flip side was if it was not a fumble, then they were going to run a play and spike the ball - then time expires."

North Carolina came into the game leading the Football Bowl Subdivision in interceptions with 12, and the Tar Heels' opportunistic defense turned around the game. They converted five turnovers - including two interceptions - into 14 points, rallying from a 17-9 halftime deficit.

"I am proud of the way our offense hung in there and had no turnovers," Davis added. "We have tried to protect the football and take care of it. A 5-0 turnover ratio gives you a great chance to win."

Clausen played well for the Fighting Irish, completing 31-of-48 passes for 384 yards to set a career high for the second straight week.

But Clausen made a critical mistake, as North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half to spark the Tar Heels' comeback.

"Stats are for losers," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "Jimmy threw for almost 400 yards. But at the end of the day, not taking care of the football ended up costing us."

Clausen shook off the turnover to march Notre Dame 72 yards in 11 plays. James Aldridge capped the four-minute drive with a 2-yard TD run to restore the Fighting Irish's eight-point margin.

But Notre Dame's defense could not get off the field in the second half, allowing the Tar Heels to convert four of their six third-down opportunities.

North Carolina answered Notre Dame's score with a 14-play drive and pulled within 24-22 on Ryan Houston's 1-yard TD run with 5:14 left in the third quarter.

"C (Clausen) is a great quarterback and they're well-coached," Sturdivant said. "We just beat a good football team."

On Notre Dame's next possession, Carolina defensive tackle Aleric Mullins stripped Clausen at the Notre Dame 48 and recovered the fumble. It led to Sexton's 4-yard TD run.

"We knew we had to play better on defense," Sturdivant added. "We had to do our coverage responsibilities better. They caught us off guard a little bit (in the first half)."

Sexton finished 18-of-32 for 201 yards. His favorite target was Hakeem Nicks, who caught nine passes for 141 yards.

"I know (Notre Dame) hates coming out on the short end," Davis said. "It's two football programs scratching and fighting and trying to find a way to re-establish themselves as football programs."








  • ** CONFIRMED **
    NCAAF
    NOTRE DAME 24
    NORTH CAROLINA 29 FINAL

    Oct 11 7:10 PM
  • 86
    roots
    mark Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 29  4th - 2:00Oct 11 6:57 PM
  • 81
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 66 roots (Close Finish)

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 29  4th - 2:00Oct 11 6:48 PM
  • 15
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 29  4th - 7:47Oct 11 6:45 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTH CAROLINA
    CAM SEXTON 4 YD RUN
    (CASEY BARTH KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 24
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 29 14:55 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 29  4th - 14:55Oct 11 6:18 PM


  • NCAAF END, 3RD QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 7 10 7 24
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 3 6 13 22 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME - TD, GOLDEN TATE 19 YD PASS FROM
    JIMMY CLAUSEN (BRANDON WALKER
    KICK), 4:33. NOTRE DAME 7-0
    NORTH CAROLINA - FG, CASEY BARTH 41 YD, 12:11.
    NOTRE DAME 7-3
    2ND QUARTER: NOTRE DA

    Oct 11 6:13 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTH CAROLINA
    RYAN HOUSTON 1 YD RUN
    (TWO-POINT PASS CONVERSION FAILED)
    NOTRE DAME 24
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 22 5:14 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 22  3rd - 5:14Oct 11 5:59 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NOTRE DAME
    JAMES ALDRIDGE 2 YD RUN
    (BRANDON WALKER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 24
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 16 10:43 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Notre Dame 24, North Carolina 16  3rd - 10:43Oct 11 5:41 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NCAAF TD NORTH CAROLINA
    QUAN STURDIVANT 32 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    (CASEY BARTH KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 17
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 16 14:48 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Notre Dame 17, North Carolina 16  3rd - 14:48Oct 11 5:29 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTH CAROLINA
    QUAN STURDIVANT 32 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    NOTRE DAME 17
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 15 14:48 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Notre Dame 17, North Carolina 15  3rd - 14:48Oct 11 5:28 PM


  • NCAAF HALFTIME
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 7 10 17
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 3 6 9 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME - TD, GOLDEN TATE 19 YD PASS FROM
    JIMMY CLAUSEN (BRANDON WALKER
    KICK), 4:33. NOTRE DAME 7-0
    NORTH CAROLINA - FG, CASEY BARTH 41 YD, 12:11.
    NOTRE DAME 7-3
    2ND QUARTER: NOTRE DAME -

    Oct 11 5:04 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NORTH CAROLINA
    CASEY BARTH 42 YD
    NOTRE DAME 17
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 9 0:09 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 17, North Carolina 9  2nd - 0:09Oct 11 4:58 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NOTRE DAME
    MICHAEL FLOYD 7 YD PASS FROM JIMMY CLAUSEN
    (BRANDON WALKER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 17
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 6 0:52 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 17, North Carolina 6  2nd - 0:52Oct 11 4:52 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NORTH CAROLINA
    CASEY BARTH 34 YD
    NOTRE DAME 10
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 6 5:22 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 10, North Carolina 6  2nd - 5:22Oct 11 4:40 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NOTRE DAME
    BRANDON WALKER 42 YD
    NOTRE DAME 10
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 3 12:53 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Notre Dame 10, North Carolina 3  2nd - 12:53Oct 11 4:23 PM


  • NCAAF END, 1ST QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NOTRE DAME 7 7
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NOTRE DAME - TD, GOLDEN TATE 19 YD PASS FROM
    JIMMY CLAUSEN (BRANDON WALKER
    KICK), 4:33. NOTRE DAME 7-0
    NORTH CAROLINA - FG, CASEY BARTH 41 YD, 12:11.
    NOTRE DAME 7-3

    Oct 11 4:16 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NORTH CAROLINA
    CASEY BARTH 41 YD
    NOTRE DAME 7
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 3 2:49 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Notre Dame 7, North Carolina 3  1st - 2:49Oct 11 4:11 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NOTRE DAME
    GOLDEN TATE 19 YD PASS FROM JIMMY CLAUSEN
    (BRANDON WALKER KICK)
    NOTRE DAME 7
    NORTH CAROLINA (22) 0 10:27 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Notre Dame 7, North Carolina 0  1st - 10:27Oct 11 3:47 PM
  • 10
    roots
    rundog2293 Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame vs. North CarolinaOct 11 2:08 PM
  • 5
    roots
    alamowx Added 5 roots

    Notre Dame vs. North CarolinaOct 11 10:14 AM