Boston College Turnovers Lead to 20-16 Loss at Notre Dame
October 24, 2009

Jimmy Clausen dropping back to pass for Notre DameA second-half fumble and interceptions by Boston College doomed the Eagles’ chances of extending their six-game winning streak against Notre Dame. The Irish made the big plays that allowed them to beat Boston College 20-16, the team’s first win against the Eagles since 2000.

Cloudy skies and rain gave way to a bit of sunshine by game time in South Bend, although temperatures remained chilly (41 degrees at the 3:40 p.m. kickoff) with a brisk wind out of the southwest. The Irish took a 6-2 lead on a pair of field goals by Nick Tausch sandwiched around a safety when quarterback Jimmy Clausen was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. The second field goal came after Notre Dame recovered a fumble by the Eagles’ Montel Harris near midfield, the first fumble lost by Harris in his college career, after 356 touches.

Harris, who had rushed for 264 yards the previous week in a win over North Carolina State, was stymied on by the Irish (held to 38 yards on 22 carries in the game). However, Boston College made big plays in the air. Dave Shinskie, a 25-year old freshman quarterback who has played minor-league baseball, connected for 10 passes of 20 yards or more.

Shinskie’s favorite receiver was Rich Gunnell. With the Eagles trailing by 4, the pair hooked up for a 24-yard gain to start a scoring drive. Shinskie also had completions of 22 yards to Chris Pantale and 21 yards to Justin Jarvis. He finished it off with a seven-yard pass to Gunnell, who was all alone in the end zone. Steve Aponavicius’s conversion gave Boston College a 9-6 lead with just over four-and-a-half minutes to play in the first half.

Clausen went to the air in leading a 12-play, 74-yard drive that put the Irish back in front. Three of his completions, including the final two, were to Golden Tate, scored on an 11-yard pass with inside a minute to play to send Notre Dame into the locker room with a 13-9 lead.

The Eagles received to open the second half and started from their 44 yard line following a 39-yard return by DeLeon Gause. On a third-and-three, Shinskie hit Gunnell for 20 yards. After Harris was stopped for a loss of 1, Gunnell took a pass and ran it down to the 2 for a gain of 28 yards. Harris then cut through the line for the touchdown and a 13-9 lead.

The Eagles squandered further chances to score, however. On a second-and-goal from the 5, Harris carried the ball to the 2 but fumbled. Notre Dame recovered on its 6 yard line.

Later in the third quarter, the Eagles drove into Notre Dame territory, but Shinskie had a pass picked off at the 23 by safety Kyle McCarthy, who returned it 20 yards.

Notre Dame worked its way to a first-and-goal at the 10 and got the ball down to the 1. However, Robert Hughes was stopped for no gain on fourth down, and the Eagles took over on downs.

Mired deep in their own territory, the Eagles could get the ball only to the 5 and had to give it back. Ryan Quigley boomed a punt to Tate, who made an over-the-shoulder catch at his 43 and returned the ball to the Eagles 49. It took only three plays for the Irish to reach the end zone. Armando Allen ran twice for a total of 13 yards. Clausen then found Tate open on the left sideline. Tate took the pass, cut back, and ran untouched to the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown that put Notre Dame back in the lead.

The Eagles were stymied on their subsequent possessions, having to punt and then having its last two drives stopped by interceptions. The first came on a second-and-8 play from the Irish 42 when McCarthy picked off a tipped pass.

Boston College got the ball back, at their own 32 with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter. Harris took a screen pass but was stuffed by freshman linebacker Manti Te’o for a loss of 6. After passes intended for Colin Larmond were incomplete, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-16. Gunnell then got open in the middle of the field and made a leaping catch of Shinskie’s pass, a gain of 28 to the Notre Dame 46. A pass interference penalty on the Irish moved the ball to the 31. Shinskie then kept the ball and picked up four yards as the Eagles called their final time out with 1:45 left. On the next play, however, Shinskie’s pass was right into the midsection of linebacker Brian Smith, who intercepted the pass at the 22 and returned it 10 yards. The Irish ran out the clock and escaped with a 20-16 win.

Shinskie finished the game with 17 completions out of 35 attempts for 279 yards. Clausen picked up 246 yards on 26-for-39 passing with no interceptions. Gunnell caught 10 of Shinskie’s passes for 179 yards, while Tate had 11 catches for 128 yards for Notre Dame. On the ground, Allen carried 21 times for 98 yards.

Notre Dame upped its record to 5-2 with the win while Boston College dropped to 4-3.

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