A 14-7 halftime lead was not enough for the Brigham Young Cougars (4-4) to ruin the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s dream season. Notre Dame (7-0) wore down BYU in the second half and narrowly escaped 17-14.
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The game started with both teams coming up empty on two scoring opportunities. Notre Dame had the ball first and drove all the way to the BYU 23-yard line before the drive stalled. The 40-yard field goal attempt missed.
The Cougars reached the Irish 19-yard line. Then, quarterback Riley Nelson was sacked for a 16-yard loss. Nelson followed the sack by throwing an interception.
After trading punts, Notre Dame used back-to-back big plays to quickly get to the BYU 13-yard line. The first play was a 29 yard pass and the second was a 22 yard run. Three plays later, Notre Dame was celebrating a 4-yard touchdown pass that gave the Irish a 7-0 lead with 1:30 to play in the first quarter.
The lead wouldn’t last long. With 11:59 to play in the second quarter, BYU freshman running back Jamaal Williams took control. He caught a four yard pass on the first play of the drive. He then ran the ball four straight plays for a combined 39 yards. A Notre Dame personal foul on the final run helped move the ball up to the Notre Dame six. With 8:25 left in the half, Hoffman got open for the touchdown.
Three plays later, BYU ha the ball again. Kyle Van Noy intercepted a Notre Dame pass and returned it nine yards to the Notre Dame 30.
Riding high on momentum, BYU covered those 30 yards in four plays. This time, the drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kaneakua Friel. With 6:07 to play before halftime, BYU had a 14-7 advantage.
BYU received the ball to start the second half, and could have really put the pressure on Notre Dame by scoring another touchdown. The offense was moving the ball methodically when it faced a third and six situation. Nelson completed a pass to Friel, but the big tight end had broken off his route at 5 yards.
Two 19-yard passes to Hoffman helped BYU move into field goal on the next drive. The field goal attempt from 46 yards was no good.
Notre Dame was about to get stopped again without gaining a first down on the next series. On third and one, linebacker Kyle Van Noy had undercut the Notre Dame ball carrier in the backfield. However, he was able to stick his hand out to prevent from going down, and then found a seam in the BYU defense and raced 55 yards to the BYU 8. The Cougar D held from there and forced a field goal.
The Notre Dame defense got a quick stop, and the offense was ready to take the lead. The BYU defense was getting tired and worn out by the Notre Dame offensive line. It took just eight plays for Notre Dame to travel 72 yards and take a 17-14 lead.
With 12:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, BYU had only one really opportunity to answer. Despite a holding penalty on the first play of the drive, Nelson moved BYU down to the Notre Dame 31-yard line. Just a few more yards and BYU would at least be able to tie the game. Notre Dame realized this, and dialed up the pressure. A 9-yard sack caused BYU to punt the ball with 6:10 to play and hope the defense could get the ball back.
The BYU defense got the ball back, but there were just 22 seconds left.
BYU did not execute well enough to win. The BYU defense started to miss tackles in the second half that could have prevented Notre Dame scores. On that only fourth quarter drive, Nelson completely missed a wide open Hoffman that would have been a touchdown.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Kyle Van Noy interception at the Notre Dame 39-yard line and returned 9 yards.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cody Hoffman—8 receptions, 86 yards, 1 TD
NEXT: at Georgia Tech
DATE: Saturday, October 27, 2012