ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Kyle Brindza kicked a 25-yard field goal with 3:03 remaining in the game and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish held off No. 22 Arizona State, 37-34, to win the Shamrock Series contest on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Taylor Kelly threw an interception to Dan Fox that was returned 14 yards for a touchdown with 1:08 remaining to seal the deal for the Irish. The Sun Devils scored a late touchdown on a 16-yard touchdown from Kelly to Marion Grice with 11 seconds left but it was too little, too late for ASU.
Trailing 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) staged a late rally but fell shy in their comeback attempt against the Fighting Irish (4-2).
Tommy Rees finished 17-of-38 for 279 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, outdueling ASU’s Kelly, who finished 33-of-47 for 362 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Notre Dame’s TJ Jones had eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown as the Sun Devils struggled to hold back the Notre Dame offense, which finished with 425 total yards on the day.
Osahon Irabor got momentum going back in the Sun Devils’s favor on the first play of the fourth quarter, taking his second interception of the season 37 yards to the house for his first career pick-six to bring the Sun Devils within 24-20.
A 33-yard field goal by Brindza on the ensuing drive put Notre Dame back up by a touchdown, but the Sun Devils drove 75 yards in seven plays to tie the game with a 21-yard pass to De’Marieya Nelson with 8:18 left in the game to net things at 27.
Notre Dame made it a two-possession game late in the third quarter, capitalizing on a Rick Smith fumble in ASU territory with a 21-yard pass from Rees to Troy Niklas to give the Irish a 24-13 lead with 3:54 left in the quarter.
After a scoreless first period, the Sun Devils struck first on a 40-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal 12-play, 58-yard drive. The kick matched Gonzalez’s career-high and marked the 15th time in 18 games under head coach Todd Graham that that Sun Devils have scored first.
That set up a frenetic end to the half that saw 24 points scored in the final six minutes.
Another Gonzalez field goal put ASU up 6-0 with 6:11 left in the first half but the Fighting Irish drove 72 yards on seven plays in 2:30 to take a 7-6 lead on a 19-yard pass from Rees to Ben Koyack with 3:35 left in the frame.
The Sun Devils responded with a 78-yard drive of their own in 2:30, capped by a well-timed audible on fourth-and-four from the Notre Dame 36-yard-line to find a streaking Jaelen Strong for the touchdown with 1:30 on the clock.
The Irish weren’t done though, taking advantage of a missed opportunity following a Damarious Randall drop on what looked to be a for-sure interception to march the ball 71 yards downfield on eight plays to take the lead into the half, 14-13, on an eight-yard pass to TJ Jones with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Sun Devils turn their attention back to the Pac-12 slate next weekend with a home tilt against Colorado on Saturday, set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.