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Game Wrap: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13

Isaac Lorton | Saturday, September 21, 2013

Up against Michigan State’s top-ranked defense, the No. 22 Irish were able to take advantage of Spartan penalties and a turnover late in the third quarter to hold onto a 17-13 victory on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

Clinging to a fourth-quarter lead, the Irish were forced to punt late in the game and Michigan State received the ball on its own 33-yard line with 2:11 left in the game. Spartans sophomore quarterback Connor Cook threw two incomplete passes to start the drive. Following a Michigan State delay of game penalty and a false start, Cook threw another incomplete pass on third down. On fourth-and-20, Cook scrambled but was only able to pick up seven yards. Irish junior running back Cam McDaniel picked up one more first down and allowed the Irish to run out the clock.

Michigan State committed 10 penalties for 115 yards on the day. Four of the penalties occurred on third or fourth down, giving the Irish new sets of downs. Both Notre Dame touchdowns came on drives extended by Michigan State pass interferences.

The Irish also capitalized on the lone turnover of the game. With two minutes left in the third quarter Michigan State attempted a running-back pass. Spartans freshman running back R.J. Shelton threw the ball into double coverage and Irish junior safety Matthias Farley came down with the interception, which he returned 29 yards.

Following a late-hit penalty at the end of the return, Notre Dame began the drive at the Spartans 38-yard line. On third down, senior quarterback Tommy Rees floated the ball to freshman receiver Corey Robinson in the end zone, but Robinson drew an interference call, moving the ball to the 7-yard line. A few plays later, the Irish took a 17-10 lead on a 7-yard run from junior running back Cam McDaniel. It proved to be the game-winning score.

Michigan State came out strong to start the second half but had to settle for a field goal. Freshman kicker Michael Geiger made a 25-yard kick to even up the game at 10-10. Geiger replaced Spartan kicker Kevin Muma after Muma missed a 30-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter.

With Michigan State knocking at the door on the 14-yard line with 11:11 left in the game, the Irish defense stepped up to force Michigan State to attempt a 42-yard field goal. Geiger put the ball through the uprights to make the score 17-13 and bring the Spartans within four.

Notre Dame struck first with 3:48 left in the first quarter. Irish junior kicker Kyle Brindza kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the Irish up 3-0. Brindza was 1-for-2 on the night, missing a 37-yard attempt in the second quarter. Notre Dame began with the ball on the 20-yard line after a touchback and drove 57 yards in seven plays on the scoring drive. The majority of the yardage was picked up on a 37-yard pass from Rees to freshman receiver William Fuller. It was Fuller’s first career catch.

Michigan State scored halfway through the second quarter to take the 7-3 lead. From the 12-yard line, Cook tossed a jump ball to sophomore receiver Macgarrett Kings, Jr., who held onto it for the score. Michael Geiger converted on the extra point to give Michigan State the four-point lead. The Spartans picked up six first downs on the drive, including two Notre Dame penalties and a fourth down conversion.

Beginning their final drive of the half with 3:00 left before the break, the Irish faltered at their own 41-yard line, but on fourth-and-one a pass interference call against Michigan State gave Notre Dame a new set of downs. Rees got his team to the 2-yard line with a pass to Robinson. Robinson led Notre Dame receivers with three catches for 54 yards.

After the Irish were unable to convert on their first two attempts just outside of the end zone, Rees threw a ball up to senior receiver TJ Jones on third down. Jones caught the ball in the back of the end zone and was able to get his feet down for the go-ahead score with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu