Scores

Final

Notre Dame 22

(6-4, 1-2 away)

(8) Pittsburgh 27

(9-1, 6-0 home)

Coverage: ABC

8:00 PM ET, November 14, 2009

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

1 2 3 4 T
ND 0 3 0 1922
#8PITT 3 7 10 727

Top Performers

Passing: J. Clausen (ND) - 283 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Lewis (PITT) - 21 CAR, 152 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: J. Baldwin (PITT) - 5 REC, 142 YDS, 1 TD

Pittsburgh opens up 18-point lead, then survives Notre Dame's late rally

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- In need of a big win, Charlie Weis and Notre Dame couldn't turn around a troublesome trend. Pitt keeps winning and winning like it hasn't done in 27 years, and now the Panthers are one more victory away from a really big bowl.

Jonathan Baldwin made two exceptional catches that allowed Pittsburgh (No. 12 BCS, No. 8 AP) to open up an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame rallied behind two touchdowns by Golden Tate, but the Panthers held on for a 27-22 victory Saturday night.

The cries for Weis' ouster among Irish supporters will surely grow louder after Notre Dame's second straight loss.

Notre Dame (6-4) trailed 27-9 with 12:44 remaining after Dion Lewis' 50-yard touchdown run, then had a chance to take the lead on its final possession before Jimmy Clausen fumbled with just over two minutes remaining.

"We got a little scare, but we always have confidence in our defense to make a big stop and they did," Lewis said.

The Irish followed up a 23-21 loss to Navy with their eighth consecutive loss to a top-10 team -- the longest streak in school history. Weis is 1-10 against ranked teams since 2006, and has the same record (35-25) as former coach Bob Davie and the same winning percentage (.583) as former coach Tyrone Willingham, both of whom were fired.

Pitt relied on big plays by Baldwin and running backs Lewis and Ray Graham to improve to 9-1 for the first time since 1982, Dan Marino's senior season, and is headed for a Dec. 5 home date against No. 5 Cincinnati that will decide the Big East Conference champion and BCS bowl representative. A Nov. 27 game at rival West Virginia won't factor into the conference race.

A game the Panthers needed to win for prestige and to remain in the top 10 couldn't have gone much better for three quarters-plus.

Tate, one of college football's most dynamic talents, nearly brought the Irish back.

"But when you get down three scores, at the end of the day ... " Weis said.

Tate ended with nine catches for 113 yards in his second 100-yard game against Pitt in as many seasons, though Pitt followed up its 36-33, four-OT win in South Bend last season by outgaining the Irish 429-349.

Called the best player Pitt has faced all season by coach Dave Wannstedt, Tate caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Clausen to cut it to 27-16 with 9:10 remaining. Tate then ran right up the middle of Pitt's punt coverage unit on an 87-yard touchdown return less than two minutes later.

That score quieted a raucous crowd of 65,374, including thousands of suddenly nervous students who only minutes before loudly sung their adopted good-luck song, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."

Until Tate broke loose, Baldwin upstaged Tate and fellow Notre Dame star receiver Michael Floyd. Despite being matched step for step by defender Darrin Walls, Baldwin stretched out all of his 6 feet, 5 inches to catch Bill Stull's perfectly thrown 36-yard touchdown catch late in the second half to make it 10-3. Stull went 15 of 27 for 236 yards and no interceptions.

Baldwin then made an even better grab, a soaring 51-yard grab over Walls -- like him, a former Pittsburgh-area high school star -- to the Irish 29 that led to Dan Hutchins' second field goal, a 38-yarder, and a 13-3 lead. After the Irish punted, Graham ran through half of the Notre Dame defense on a 53-yard run that led to his 2-yard score one play later.

Baldwin made five catches for 142 yards.

"This was a statement game for him," Wannstedt said.

Baldwin was more motivated by pre-game promotional commercials on ABC that he felt played up Notre Dame and downplayed the Panthers.

"They probably thought we were going to lose," he said. "We just wanted to come out and take care of business."

Lewis, the freshman who ran for 152 yards, took over on the next drive to score from the 50 and make it 27-9, answering's Clausen's 1-yard TD sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter. Clausen has pulled off four comeback wins in the fourth quarter this season and, in another frantic fourth, nearly did it again.

Nearly.

The Irish got the ball at their own 20 with 3:39 remaining and had a chance to pull off an improbable comeback, but a 15-yard chop block penalty prevented the drive from taking off and Clausen (27 of 42 for 283 yards, one interception) fumbled while under pressure on a third-and-16 play -- one initially ruled an incompletion but reversed on replay.

Weis wasn't happy with the reversal, saying it seems "the replay officials are the stars" by repeatedly reversing calls.

Notre Dame finally got going on offense after being held to three points in the first half, a week after being shut out by Navy before halftime -- a loss that rallied the Weis-must-go forces in South Bend once again. Weis wanted to play conservatively and not let Pitt's multidimensional offense get going, but Pitt's big lead changes those plans.

"We didn't want to get into that [a wide-open game] that early," he said.

Weis isn't accustomed to his teams not scoring points in Heinz Field. He began his Notre Dame career by beating Pitt 42-21 in 2005, only nine months after his Tom Brady-led Patriots offense rolled past the Steelers 41-27 in the AFC championship game.

Now, there will be speculation Weis' college career may have effectively ended in the same stadium where it began. The Irish still must play Connecticut and Stanford, which has beaten top-10 teams the last two weeks, and they have again failed to beat any nationally prominent teams.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPNChicago.com 

Team Stat Comparison

 
ND
PITT
1st Downs2017
Total Yards349429
Passing283236
Rushing66193
Penalties5-531-5
3rd Down Conversions6-143-12
4th Down Conversions1-10-0
Turnovers20
Possession30:5229:08

Passing Leaders

Notre DameC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Clausen27/422836.711
PittsburghC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Stull15/272368.710

Rushing Leaders

Notre DameCARYDSAVGTDLG
Allen Jr14775.5015
Tate221.005
PittsburghCARYDSAVGTDLG
Lewis211527.2150
Graham35719.0153

Receiving Leaders

Notre DameRECYDSAVGTDLG
Tate911312.6122
Floyd710715.3045
PittsburghRECYDSAVGTDLG
Baldwin514228.4151
Dickerson44611.5017

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNDPITT
FG09:40Dan Hutchins 34 Yd 03
SECOND QUARTERNDPITT
FG05:40David Ruffer 42 Yd 33
TD02:31Jonathan Baldwin 36 Yd Pass From Bill Stull (Dan Hutchins Kick) 310
THIRD QUARTERNDPITT
FG09:15Dan Hutchins 38 Yd 313
TD06:36Ray Graham 2 Yd Run (Dan Hutchins Kick) 320
FOURTH QUARTERNDPITT
TD14:56Jimmy Clausen 1 Yd Run (Pat Blocked) 920
TD12:44Dion Lewis 50 Yd Run (Dan Hutchins Kick) 927
TD09:10Golden Tate 18 Yd Pass From Jimmy Clausen (David Ruffer Kick) 1627
TD07:16Golden Tate 87 Yd Punt Return (Two-Point Conversion Failed) 2227