On BYU’s first series, wide receiver Cody Hoffman dropped a pass that stalled a drive in Notre Dame territory. Then, the Cougars had a chance to send the Irish offense off the field on their first drive, as linebacker Kyle Van Noy knifed into the backfield and grabbed running back Tarean Folston. But Folston broke the tackle and gained a first down.
One play later, Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw a 61-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Daniels to put Notre Dame up early, 7-0.
BYU’s starting cornerbacks, Mike Hague and Robertson Daniel, did not start. Hague was dealing with a groin injury and Daniel was sick. After the Cougars surrendered that long touchdown pass on Notre Dame’s first series, Daniel came into the contest.
Not long before kickoff, “Daniel became very, very ill,” Mendenhall said. “He was getting IVs and different things. He received not only medical care but ecclesiastic care right before the game, and it didn’t look like there was much chance that he might play.”
After Notre Dame’s TD, BYU responded with a 12-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Falslev.
The Irish scored on their next series, as Folston had a 2-yard touchdown run. At that point, Notre Dame led, 14-7.
In their final two series of the half, the Irish kicked a 26-yard field goal after moving inside the Cougar 10, and BYU stopped Notre Dame on the Cougar 24-yard line with 27 seconds left in the half. Hill threw an interception on the final play of the half on a Hail Mary heave into the end zone.
At intermission, the Irish led 17-7.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Folston burst through the line for a 43-yard gain. Kyle Brindza ended up booting a 26-yard field goal and Notre Dame extended its lead to 20-7.
Sorensen kicked a 31-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 20-10, then a 27-yarder to make it 20-13.
But the Cougars needed touchdowns to beat Notre Dame, not field goals.
Bills intercepted Rees in the end zone with 12:08 remaining in the game, ending a long Irish drive.
“They were setting that up all game,” Bills said. “When they showed that look, I saw the tight end come upfield and I just made a play on the ball.”
But the Cougar offense couldn’t capitalize. It punted after five plays, giving the ball back to the Irish.
Meanwhile, Brindza drilled a 51-yard field goal with 6:53 remaining to essentially put the game out of reach.
BYU visits Nevada next Saturday in its regular-season finale.
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