Irish Survive Stanford Scare, Win 38-31

Palo Alto, CA ( — An 80 yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage by Notre Dame gave the impression of an oncoming blowout, but the Irish would need a late Darius Walker touchdown and two point conversion to beat The Cardinal and qualify Notre Dame for a BCS berth.

Brady Quinn connected with Jeff Samardzija for an 80 yard touchdown on Notre Dame’s 2nd offensive play to give the Irish a 7-0 lead 15 seconds in Saturday night’s showdown with Stanford. The Irish defense followed up with a 3 and out and it looked like this one could have been over by half time.

Quinn however threw an interception on his 3rd pass attempt of the game, just his 6th of the season, setting up Stanford in excellent position. Trent Edwards responded by finding Mark Bradford for a 27 yard field goal to tie the game and the from that point on the Irish could not pull away.

It took a six yard touchdown run by Darius Walker to finally seal the deal with under a minute left after Stanford took a one point lead on a Matt Traverso touchdown catch from backup quarterback T.C. Ostrander.

The Cardinal briefly held the lead 31-30 with under 2 minutes to go, but Brady Quinn came out and lead the Irish 80 yards in under a minute without using a timeout to set up Walker’s game winning run. Walker added the two point conversion to give the Irish a touchdown lead with 55 seconds remaining to cap off his career day.

Walker ended up running the ball 35 times for 186 yards (a career high) most of which came in the second half. Walker’s last minute touchdown was all effort with Darius jumping over a block before bulling his way into the endzone after it looked like he would be stopped just short of the goal line.

Problems with the kicking game made this game closer than it should have been. Notre Dame missed an extra point and two field goals in the second half to allow Stanford to stay in the game when it looked like they were going to run away with the game in the second half.

After taking a 23-14 lead Notre Dame allowed TJ Rushing to take the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown to get Stanford back into the game and let T.C. Ostrander to find Mark Bradford for a 76 yard pass with just over 2 minutes remaining to set up their go ahead touchdown.

It was a day of milestones for the Irish however with Jeff Samaradzija and Maurice Stovall both going over 1,000 yards receiving and Darius Walker going over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Samardzija also set the Notre Dame single season receiving record with his 9 catch ,216 yard, 2 touchdown performance to give him 1,215 yards on the season.

Brady Quinn also added his 4th 400 yard passing performance on the season and added 3 touchdowns to give him 32 on the season and engineered the game winning touchdown drive.

The Irish are now BCS eligible and are almost certainly headed to the Fiesta Bowl if Texas and USC end up meeting in the Rose Bowl. The difference between winning and losing this game for the Irish was literally $13 million since a BCS Bowl will pay roughly $14.5 million while as Gator Bowl berth (the destination for the Irish had they lost tonight) would have only been worth around $1.5 million.

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