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Luck caps season with 4 TD performance as Stanford downs Irish

Nov 27, 2011 - 7:47 AM Palo Alto, CA (Sports Network) - Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes to culminate his Heisman Trophy campaign and help the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal get by the No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 28-14.

Luck broke John Elway's school record for touchdown passes and finished with 233 yards and an interception on 20-of-30 efficiency in his regular season finale. He found Coby Fleener four times for 97 yards and two scores as the Cardinal (11-1) all but assured themselves a BCS bowl appearance.

"There's no player in America like Andrew Luck. There really isn't," Stanford head coach David Shaw said. "The kid is the definition of what you would want at the quarterback position in all facets."

Stepfan Taylor anchored a Stanford ground game that logged 196 yards with 118 yards on 20 carries.

Andrew Hendrix filled in for an ineffective Tommy Rees in the second half and passed for 192 yards with a touchdown and an interception on 11-of-24 throws for the Irish (8-4), who were looking for their first five-game winning streak since 2006.

Notre Dame, after getting outgained 287-88 in the first half, switched quarterbacks after the intermission. Hendrix, more of a running QB than a classic drop-back passer, led the Irish into Stanford territory five times in the second half, though only two resulted in touchdowns.

"We're just trying to win games. We're just trying to find ways to win and move the ball," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said about why he changed quarterbacks. "We have to evaluate the guys that'll give us a chance to win and Hendrix gave us a good chance today."

Midway through the third quarter, Hendrix hit Michael Floyd on a six-yard out at the right pylon to finish a seven-play, 77-yard drive and pull the Irish within 21-7.

Stanford's Michael Thomas came down with a big interception early in the fourth quarter and returned it 42 yards to the Notre Dame 35-yard line. The Cardinal, though, failed to move the chains, and Jordan Williamson missed a 49-yard field goal to keep it a two-possession game.

A.J. Tarpley recorded a crucial sack of Hendrix near midfield to spoil another promising Notre Dame drive, and with 5:40 on the clock, Fleener was left open down the middle for an easy 55-yard score to all but seal the outcome.

Hendrix ran for a touchdown from two yards out in the final minute to cap the scoring.

Luck went 5-for-5 for 38 yards on Stanford's first scoring drive and found Levine Toilolo in the corner of the end zone from three yards out 5 1/2 minutes in.

Rees lost a fumble in enemy territory on the next possession, but the Irish caused a turnover of their own early in the second when Darius Fleming picked off a tipped Luck pass and gave the visitors a first down at the opposing 11- yard line. Still, the short field went for naught, as David Rufffer pushed a 20-yard chip shot wide right.

Stanford saw the opening and ran right through it with a 10-play, 80-yard march that Fleener capped with a 28-yard reception that ended with him dragging his overmatched defender over the goal line with under five minutes left in the half. The touchdown pass was the 78th for Luck's career, passing Elway's school mark.

A punt and an exchange of turnovers gave the ball back to Stanford with 1:38 left, and Ty Montgomery caught a pass over the middle and went in for an 11- yard TD with 10 seconds showing. Montgomery hauled in a 14-yard pass on 3rd- and-10 on the previous play.

Game Notes

Notre Dame holds a 17-9 series advantage, but the Cardinal have won the last three meetings...Stanford committed 11 penalties for 113 yards...Floyd caught eight passes for 92 yards...Rees ended with 60 yards on 6-of-13 attempts...Notre Dame ran for just 57 yards.