The 10th-rated Irish overcame UCLA, 20-17, to keep their BCS hopes alive.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija added another chapter to Notre Dame's storied history.
This great finish did more than just contribute another memory to the lore of the Golden Domers, however. It also kept alive the Bowl Championship Series hopes of the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish.
Quinn, under pressure all day by a relentless UCLA defense, completed three straight passes in the final 62 seconds, capped by a 45-yard TD pass to Samardzija, to lead the Irish to a 20-17 come-from-behind victory over the Bruins Saturday.
"Good teams win games like that," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "Good teams at the end of the game somehow, good teams make a play at the end of the game to win."
The victory was just the third time the Irish (6-1) won with a touchdown in the final 30 seconds. In 1992, Rick Mirer threw a 4-yard TD pass to Jerome Bettis and a two-point conversion with 20 seconds remaining for a 17-16 victory over Penn State in snowy conditions.
In the 1979 Cotton Bowl, Joe Montana played with a virus in the first half and sat out the third quarter because his body temperature dipped well below normal. The Cougars led 34-12 with 71/2 minutes to play when Montana, after eating a cup of chicken soup, led Notre Dame to three touchdowns and a 35-34 win.
The weather wasn't bad Saturday, and Quinn wasn't ill, but the Irish still had to overcome a UCLA defense that had shut them down for most of the game. Notre Dame managed just 41 yards rushing and had just 224 yards passing until the final drive.
Defense to the rescue
It seemed Notre Dame had squandered its last chance to win when Quinn was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Notre Dame 35 with 2:25 to go. But the Irish held UCLA (4-3) to three-and-out on three straight runs to give Quinn one last chance.
Because the Irish (6-1) were able to stop the clock twice with time-outs during the Bruins' short series, they got the ball back with 62 seconds remaining.
Quinn hit Samardzija with a 21-yard pass and David Grimes with a 14-yard pass to move to the UCLA 45. He then threw the TD pass to Samardzija, who cut inside safety Dennis Keyes at the 15-yard line. Keyes managed to knock Samardzija off balance, but the Notre Dame receiver kept his feet and made it to the end zone.
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