Recap: Notre Dame vs. Northwestern
South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Northwestern trailed by 11 points late in regulation but rallied to force overtime and stunned No. 15 Notre Dame, 43-40.
The Irish (7-3) made countless mistakes for the second straight week.
After having their title hopes dashed by turning the ball over five times at Arizona State, the Fighting Irish committed four turnovers Saturday, including a fumble while trying to run the clock out with 1:28 remaining in regulation.
That's not to mention a blocked PAT that was returned for two points, a curious decision to go for two when ahead by 11 points, two missed field goals and poor clock management.
Three straight Everett Golson incompletions on the first possession of overtime preceded Kyle Brindza pulling a field goal try wide left.
Jack Mitchell, who forced OT with a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go, calmly nailed a 41-yarder to snap Northwestern's (4-6) four-game skid.
Mitchell, whose season long coming into the game was 29 yards, connected from 31, 41, 45 and 46 yards out in the upset.
Justin Jackson led the Wildcats with 149 rushing yards and a score, while Trevor Siemian threw for 284 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Golson threw three touchdown passes -- all to William Fuller -- and had a long TD run, but the embattled QB lost a fumble, threw an interception and completed just 21-of-40 passes for 287 yards.
There was a gap of 35 days between home games at Notre Dame Stadium, and the crowd was rewarded for its patience with a wind chill in the low-20s and more uneven play from the Fighting Irish.
Fuller's third score moved Notre Dame ahead 40-29 with 10:34 remaining, and the Irish made the interesting choice to go for two and failed.
"At that point it was a coin toss of one or two so we decided to go for two," Irish coach Brian Kelly said of his decision to go for two.
Despite having a field goal try block on the next series, the Wildcats pulled closer with 4:10 on the clock on Siemian's 6-yard touchdown run.
The two-point conversion cut the deficit to 40-37, and a defensive pass interference call on third down seemingly have the Notre Dame a chance to run the clock out.
Cam McDaniel, however, fumbled the ball away at the Northwestern 31-yard line, and Siemian completed five straight passes to move the Wildcats into field goal range.
"We had the game in our hands, but we turned the ball over," Kelly added. "We had too many opportunities to score points."
Golson raced down the sideline for a 61-yard TD on the game's fourth snap.
Jackson's 44-yard run set up backup quarterback Matt Alviti's 2-yard keeper on the ensuing drive, but a fumble on Northwestern's next possession was returned 32 yards for a score by Austin Collinsworth.
A botched hold on the extra point led to Nick VanHoose blocking the kick and returning it the other way for two Northwestern points.
Tarean Folston made it 20-9 with a 6-yard run before two straight Wildcats touchdowns in the second quarter briefly gave the visitors the lead.
Kyle Prater caught a 4-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter, and Jackson punched one in after Anthony Walker returned an interception 65 yards down the 4-yard line.
Notre Dame retook the lead on Fuller's 23-yard touchdown catch, and the Irish kept it a 27-23 game heading into halftime by Matthias Farley intercepting Siemian in the end zone.
A sack on 3rd-and-goal forced Northwestern to settle for a 31-yard Mitchell field goal out of the break.
Golson lost a fumble in the red zone midway through the third quarter, but Notre Dame forced a quick punt and padded its lead when Fuller took a short pass and did the rest en route to a 23-yard TD.
Mitchell snuck a 46-yard field goal inside the left upright in the opening minute of the fourth.Game Notes
The programs were meeting for the 48th time but first since 1995 ... Golson
has accounted for 19 turnovers this season ... Fuller has 13 touchdown catches
on the season ... The Irish had won seven straight at home ... Notre Dame
junior defensive lineman Sheldon Day suffered a leg injury in the third
quarter and did not return ... The Irish have allowed at least 31 points in
five straight games.