Cougars fall to Irish in South Bend

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. –  BYU football lost 23-13 to Notre Dame on a cold and snowy Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

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BYU (7-4) trailed 17-7 at halftime and was unable to make up the difference in the second half as Notre Dame (8-3) kept the Cougars out of the end zone in the third and fourth quarters.

Taysom Hill finished the game with 168 yards and one touchdown through the air and 101 yards on the ground. Hill became the first quarterback in BYU history to run and throw for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. Running back Paul Lasike ran for a career-high 101 yards on four carries and Jamaal Williams added 43 yards on the ground.

Uani ‘ Unga finished the game with a career-high 19 tackles. That gives Unga a school-record (since 2000) 125 tackles on the season and the 19 tackles are a BYU record for tackles in a game. Craig Bills also had a career-high 15 tackles. 

Notre Dame got on the board first 7-0 on a 61-yard pass from Tommy Rees to DaVaris Daniels on the opening drive of the game for the Irish.

The BYU offense responded with a scoring drive of its own to tie the game at 7-7. The Cougars used an array of passes and runs to march down the field and went 4-for-4 on third downs to keep the drive alive. Senior JD Falslev returned to action after breaking his hand in October to catch a seven-yard pass from Hill for the score.

On its next two drives, Notre Dame scored a touchdown and kicked a field goal to increase its lead to 17-7 with just over 7:30 left in the second quarter.

After Notre Dame opened the second half with a 43-yard run to the BYU 18-yardline, the Cougar defense held tough and forced the Irish to kick a field goal. The 26-yarder put Notre Dame up 20-7.

After a long kickoff return was called back due to a penalty, the BYU offense took over from its own 8-yard line and drove down to kick a field goal, making it a two-possession game at  20-10. On the drive, Lasike busted off a 40-yard run up the middle for BYU’s longest play of the game up to that point.

A big stop on fourth down gave the ball and momentum back to the Cougars. Hill led the offense down the field while running for 22 yards on three carries and 32 yards passing on three completions to get the ball down to the Irish’s 9-yard line. Justin Sorensen nailed his second field goal of the game to make it a one-possession game at 20-13.

Notre Dame moved down the field and was threatening to score before Craig Bills made a one-handed interception in the end zone to keep the Irish from scoring and the score 20-13.

The Cougars were unable to capitalize on the turnover and had to punt the ball after five plays, and Notre Dame pushed it back to a two-possession game on a 51-yard field goal for a 23-13 lead.

Getting the ball back, Lasike helped drive BYU down the field with a 12-yard rush followed three plays later with a 46-yard scamper down the left sideline to the Notre Dame 6-yard line. A blocked field goal gave the ball back to the Irish.

The Cougars forced Notre Dame to punt but were unable to get a first down, and the Irish ran the clock out to win the game.

BYU returns to action for its final game of the season Saturday against Nevada at noon PST. The game is in Reno and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

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