24Pittsburgh
Notre Dame
36 - 33 Final - 5OT
  for this game

Lee kicks Pittsburgh past Notre Dame in four overtimes

Nov 2, 2008 - 1:40 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- After Notre Dame allowed Pittsburgh to tie the game late in regulation, the Panthers won a duel of kickers in the longest game in the storied history of Notre Dame Stadium.

Connor Lee kicked field goals on all four overtime possessions, including a game-winning 22-yarder, as Pittsburgh outlasted the Fighting Irish, 36-33, in a four overtime marathon Saturday.

"I was just trying to take it one kick at a time," Lee said. "I wasn't even thinking about what's going to happen. In football, you don't know what's going to happen, so I just tried to stay as level-headed as possible."

The Panthers (6-2) rebounded from last week's 54-34 loss to Rutgers to become bowl eligible. In that game, Scarlet Knights quarterback Mike Teel threw for six touchdowns.

"We were embarrassed, we were sick to our stomachs (after last week)," Pittsburgh linebacker Scott McKillop said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth. We just wanted to come out here and take care of things and show the nation."

Notre Dame (5-3), whose schedule has been criticized, still has not beaten a team with a winning record this season and needs one more win to become bowl eligible following last season's 3-9 nightmare.

"It's not a good feeling at all," Fighting Irish wide receiver Golden Tate said. "We're up two scores at halftime. We weren't playing the same way we were playing in the first half."

Lee and Notre Dame's Brandon Walker each converted field goals on the first three extra possessions. Walker, who struggled earlier in this season, forced the fourth overtime by converting a 48-yarder, the longest of his career.

But the freshman finally blinked, missing a 38-yarder on Notre Dame's fourth extra possession. Lee then won it with a 23-yarder, which was set up by an 18-yard run by LeSean McCoy, who keyed the Panthers' comeback by rushing for a season-high169 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries.

"I had a slow start in the beginning (of the game)," McCoy said. "I couldn't let all this hype and the Notre Dame thing get to me. I just kind of settled down. My offensive line played great for me today."

McCoy had the final five carries on a 15-play, 70-yard drive that allowed the Panthers to tie the game, 17-17, including a 1-yard run with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh chewed 8 1/2 minutes off the clock.

Up until that point, Notre Dame had been held to seven yards and no first downs in the second half.

But the Fighting Irish finally came alive as Jimmy Clausen, who threw three touchdown passes, engineered what could have been the winning march.

Notre Dame answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, regaining the lead, 24-17, on Clausen's 6-yard TD strike to Tate with 5:38 remaining.

Once again, however, Notre Dame could not get its defense off the field, and it came down to a 4th-and-6 from the 10-yard line.

With a major height advantage, 6-5 receiver Jonathan Baldwin won a jump ball against 6-foot cornerback Raeshon McNeil for an easy TD reception in the right corner of the end zone with 2:27 remaining.

"We wanted to show everybody that last week was a fluke, and we came out and beat these (Notre Dame) boys," Pittsburgh lineman Mick Williams said. "We needed it really, really bad."

Notre Dame had a chance to get into field goal range, but turned the ball over on downs at its own 49 after Clausen threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-1 with 32 seconds left.

Cornerback David Bruton saved the Fighting Irish for the moment with an interception at the Notre Dame 27, forcing overtime.

Notre Dame had chances to reach the end zone after marching inside Pittsburgh's 10-yard line on its first two overtime possessions. But the Irish could not convert a 2nd-and-3 from the 4 and then a 3rd-and-7 from the 8.

"With four overtimes, at some point you've got to score," Tate said. "We've got a good offense. We should have scored early (in overtime). Then, the defense would have held them, and we'd have won the game."

Clausen completed 23-of-44 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. It was his fourth three-TD game of the season.