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Pitt beats Notre Dame in 4OT |

Pitt beats Notre Dame in 4OT

| Saturday, November 1, 2008 12:00 a.m

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Conor Lee kicked a 22-yard field goal, the first game-winner of his career, to lead Pitt to a 36-33 quadruple-overtime victory before a sellout crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium.

It marked the longest game in the history of both schools.

Pitt’s previous long was its 41-38 triple-overtime victory at West Virginia in 1997. Notre Dame’s was its triple-overtime loss to Navy last year.

The Panthers (6-2) rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit thanks to the school-record five field goals by Lee, a senior from Upper St. Clair. LeSean McCoy rushed for a game-high 169 yards on 32 carries, setting up the field goal with three carries for 20 yards in the fourth overtime.

Lee’s 22-yard field goal gave the Panthers a 27-24 lead in the first overtime, but Notre Dame answered with a 22-yarder by Brandon Walker to force a second overtime. The Irish had possession first in the second overtime, and took a 30-27 lead when Walker converted a 26-yard field goal. After McCoy was stopped on a third-and-1, Lee added a 32-yard field goal to tie it.

Pitt went first in the third overtime, and the Panthers took a 33-30 lead on Lee’s 26-yard field goal. Notre Dame answered with a 48-yard field goal by Walker to force a fourth overtime, the longest in either school’s history.

Walker, however, missed a 38-yarder.

That set up McCoy’s heroics. He ran for a 1-yard gain on first down, then broke an 18-yarder to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season. He now has 1,003 yards this season.

Notre Dame (5-3) took a 24-17 lead with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that included three third-down conversions and a 31-yard pass play to Golden Tate. Jimmy Clausen threw a 6-yard fade pass to Tate in the left corner for a 24-17 lead with 5:38 left.

But Pitt responded in kind, answering with an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped by Pat Bostick’s 10-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Baldwin to tie it at 24-24 with 2:22 remaining. Bostick started in place of Bill Stull, who left the Rutgers game with a concussion and stinger.

Pitt forced a turnover on downs and had the ball at the 50 with 32 seconds remaining, but Bostick’s pass intended for Baldwin was intercepted by free safety David Bruton at the Irish 27 with 32 seconds left.

The Panthers rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit, opening the third quarter with an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive kept alive by a Notre Dame personal-foul penalty on third-and-8 and highlighted by a 37-yard Bostick pass to Oderick Turner on fourth-and-1 at the Irish 41.

LaRod Stephens-Howling scored on a 4-yard run with 10:55 left.

The Panthers then held the Irish to three consecutive three-and-outs in the third quarter. They forced two third-and-15s, stopping Armando Allen once on a screen pass and again on a draw, before ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard pressured Clausen into an incompletion on third-and-8.

Pitt had tied the game on McCoy’s 1-yard run with 11:03 remaining. The Panthers drove 70 yards on 15 plays and 8:28, the longest drive of the season against Notre Dame this season in terms of number of plays and time of possession.

Pitt converted twice on third down, with passes of 5 yards to Oderick Turner and 6 yards to Derek Kinder. They also made a pivotal fourth-and-2, when LaRod Stephens-Howling took a direct snap and ran for a 5-yard gain.

McCoy carried on the final five plays, using a 21-yard run to set up his 1-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17-17 with 11:03 remaining.

The Fighting Irish took a 17-3 lead into halftime lead after Michael Floyd followed a spectacular catch by Tate with a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard scoring play with 1:27 remaining. It capped a nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive.

The play was set up by Tate’s third-and-12 catch, where the ball was tipped by cornerback Aaron Berry and deflected off the fingertips of safety Dom DeCicco into those of Tate for a 47-yard gain to the Pitt 32.

Bostick, who started for the injured Bill Stull, then had a pass intercepted by cornerback Raeshon McNeil, who returned it 43 yards to the Pitt 13. Four plays later, Clausen hit Floyd in the upper left corner for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead with four seconds remaining in the half.

Pitt drove from its own 12 to the Irish 26 before bungling two key plays. McCoy reversed field on a second-and-5, but was tackled for a 9-yard loss. On third-and-14, Bostick tangled with center C.J. Davis and tripped for a 5-yard loss. The Panthers were forced to punt from the Notre Dame 40.

The Irish answered with the first of their two second-quarter scoring drives.

Notre Dame opened the game with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that saw the Fighting Irish stall at the Pitt 21 and settle for a Brandon Walker 39-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter.

Pitt freshman safety Andrew Taglianetti blocked Eric Maust’s punt, and linebacker Nate Nix recovered at the Notre Dame 20 at the 7:25 mark. It was the seventh blocked kick of the season for the Panthers, the second for Taglianetti, who also partially blocked a punt against Iowa.

Lee’s 35-yard field goal tied the score at 3-3 with 5:58 left in the first.

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