NOTRE DAME — In the shadow of a 160-foot long Jumbotron, deep in the heart of Texas, Notre Dame looked a bit like the team that went to the national championship game in January.
The ingredients were all there — a speedy, stout defense, a quarterback throwing on the run, a linebacker wreaking havoc all over the field, tight ends scoring touchdowns and even a few Prince Shembo appearances in the Arizona State backfield — and the Irish capitalized on them.
Notre Dame (4-2) remains undefeated in Shamrock Series play, beating No. 22 Arizona State 37-34 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The outcome wasn’t decided until linebacker Dan Fox intercepted a Taylor Kelly pass and returned it 14 yards for the game’s final points with 1:08 left to play.
Arizona State did add a final desperate TD with 11 second left, but the Irish recovered the ensuing onside kick and ended the game.
ND now gets a week off before meeting USC at home on Oct. 19.
The Irish offense started slow — moving the ball on long, time-chewing drives but failing to score — but held the high-octane Sun Devil offense to just two field goals before Tommy Rees found Ben Koyack in the end zone.
Arizona State spit back with a quick touchdown, but the Irish marched to 17 unanswered points.
George Atkinson ran tough up the middle and along the perimeter until Arizona State took the edge away. When that happened, the Irish turned to the air and Rees found TJ Jones and Troy Niklas in the endzone for scores.
After missing on his first attempt, Kyle Brindza hit from a career-high 53 yards, 33 yards and 25 yards to keep the Sun Devils at bay.
Facing Arizona State’s seventh-ranked passing offense, the Irish swarmed to Kelly, sacking him five times and forcing him to make several sloppy, hurried throws. On the ground, Notre Dame only gave up 51 rushing yards to tailback Marion Grice and forced Arizona State’s first two fumbles of the year (recovering one).
Freshman outside linebacker Jaylon Smith flew around the field, racking up a team-high six tackles by halftime. Late in the fourth quarter, with the game still on the line, a Matthias Farley interception all but sealed the Notre Dame victory.
A few of 2013’s pitfalls wiggled into the game as well.
Up 24-13 and heading into the fourth quarter, Rees threw the ball into the hands of ASU’s Osahon Irabor, who returned it for a touchdown. Notre Dame also allowed a deep first down pass after pushing Arizona State back to 3rd-and-20, setting the Sun Devils up for the tying score midway into the fourth.
Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 34
Scoring By Quarters
Arizona State 0 13 0 21 — 34
Notre Dame 0 14 10 13 – 37
Arizona State: Zane Gonzalez 40 field goal, 14:03. Drive: 12 plays, 58 yards, 4:24. Key play: Taylor Kelly 14 run on 3rd down.
Score: Arizona State 3, Notre Dame 0.
Arizona State: Gonzalez 27 field goal, 6:11. Drive: 13 plays, 79 yards, 5:02. Key play: Jaelen Strong 27 pass from Kelly to Notre Dame 25.
Score: Arizona State 6, Notre Dame 0.
Notre Dame: Ben Koyack 19 pass from Tommy Rees; Kyle Brindza kick, 3:35. Drive: 7 plays, 72 yards, 2:32. Key play: Troy Niklas 18 pass from Rees.
Score: Notre Dame 7, Arizona State 6.
Arizona State: Strong 36 pass from Kelly; Gonzalez kick, 1:30. Drive: 7 plays, 78 yards, 1:58. Key play: DJ Foster 15 pass from Kelly.
Score: Arizona State 13, Notre Dame 7.
Notre Dame: TJ Jones 8 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 0:10. Drive: 8 plays, 71 yards, 1:15. Key play: Jones 36 pass from Rees to Arizona State 23.
Score: Notre Dame 14, Arizona State 13.
Notre Dame: : Brindza 53 field goal, 10:02. Drive: 6 plays, 43 yards, 3:08. Key play: Jones 37 pass from Rees to Arizona State 37.
Score: Notre Dame 17, Arizona State 13.
Notre Dame: Troy Niklas 21 pass from Rees; Brindza kick, 3:54. Drive: 2 plays, 21 yards, 0:18. Key play: Bennett Jackson forced fumble, recovered by Dan Fox.
Score: Notre Dame 24, Arizona State 13.
Arizona State: Osahon Irabor 37 interception returned for touchdown, 14:46; Gonzalez kick.
Score: Notre Dame 24, Arizona State 20.
Notre Dame: Brindza 33 field goal, 10:38. Drive: 8 plays, 69 yards, 4:03. Key play: Cam McDaniel 28 rush.
Score: Notre Dame 27, Arizona State 20.
Arizona State: De-Marieya Nelson 21 pass from Kelly; Gonzalez kick, 8:18.
Score: Notre Dame 27, Arizona State 27.
Notre Dame: Brindza 25 field goal, 3:03. Drive: 10 plays, 56 yards, 5:15. Key plays: Rees to Jones for 13 and 14 yard on back-to-back plays.
Score: Notre Dame 30, Arizona State 27.
Notre Dame: Dan Fox 14 interception return; Brindza kick, 1:08.
Score: Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 27.
Arizona State: Marian Grice 16 pass from Kelly; Gonzalez kick, :11. Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards, :57. Key plays: Kelly to DJ Foster and Kevin Ozier, each for 22 yards.
Score: Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 27 (Final).