Oct. 21, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Brady Quinn threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija with 27 seconds left to give 10th-ranked Notre Dame an improbable 20-17 comeback victory over UCLA on Saturday.
It appeared as though 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 left. But the Irish held UCLA to three-and-out to give Quinn one last chance.
Because the Irish (6-1) were able to stop the clock twice with timeouts during the Bruins' short series, they got the ball back with 62 seconds left. 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 20-yard line. Keyes managed to knock Samardzija off balance, but the Notre Dame receiver kept his feet and made it to the end zone, keeping the Irish's hopes for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series alive.
It was just the third time Notre Dame has won a game with a touchdown in the final 30 seconds. The other two times were in a 17-16 win over Penn State in snowy conditions in 1992, and in a 35-34 victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1978 season.
UCLA (4-3), which upset No. 10 California last season, narrowly missed out on repeating the feat.
Quinn was 27-of-45 passing for 304 yards with two TD passes to Samardzija, who tied the school record of 22 career touchdown catches held by Derrick Mayes in 1995. Samardzija, who had a 2-yard TD pass in the first quarter, finished with eight catches for 118 yards.
Patrick Cowan, making just his second start in place of injured Ben Olson, was 16-of-32 passing for 217 yards and completed two of the three longest passes for UCLA this season, both for touchdowns. He completed passes of 54 yards to Marcus Everett and a 36-yarder to tight end William Snead - the first career catch for the converted defensive end.
Everett scored early in the second quarter on third-and-10, racing untouched to the end zone with Notre Dame cornerback Mike Richardson chasing after him. It surpassed UCLA's previous longest passing play of the season, a 46-yard catch by tight end Logan Paulsen in the season opener against Utah.
The Bruins scored again two possessions later following a 22-yard punt by Geoff Price, who entered the game second in the nation with 46.6 yards a punt. UCLA again scored on third down from the 36, with Cowan hitting Snead at the 24 and Snead running over safeties Ray Herring and Chinedum Ndukwe at the 5.
UCLA entered the game with just eight passes of 20 yards or more, seven of them coming against Utah and Stanford. The two TD passes were the seventh and eighth time the Irish gave up pass plays of 35 yards or more. Cowan also had a 24-yard pass to Junior Taylor.
Justin Medlock, who had made 14 straight field goals, missed a 47-yard attempt after UCLA was called for a false start. But he kicked a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Bruins a 17-13 lead.