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Irish defense comes up big in the clutch

Updated: December 5, 2012 6:46AM



SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Pittsburgh tailback Ray Graham ran right through Notre Dame safety Matthias Farley along the sideline on a 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It was only the second rushing TD allowed by the Irish all season, and it was a sign of how off its game the vaunted ND defense was on Saturday.

But like the offense, the defense came up big when it mattered most.

Notre Dame allowed only 21 yards in the fourth quarter and the three overtimes (while the Irish offense amassed 223 yards in that span). Pitt never got closer than the 16-yard line in overtime.

Stephon Tuitt had two of Notre Dame’s five sacks — one at the end of regulation and one in the third overtime — and Prince Shembo added two tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the end zone. Manti Te’o , who had one tackle in the first half, finished with seven, one for loss, and a pass breakup.

“They found a way to shut them down in the second half, and that is the key,” coach Brian Kelly said. “We shut them down in overtime. We took [Graham] and were able to control him late in the game.”

Benched again

Kelly said he benched Golson for three series, starting just before halftime, because of missed reads and progressions. Even though he returned in the second half and led the comeback, Kelly’s still not prepared to say Golson can stop looking over his shoulder for backup Tommy Rees .“I don’t know how to answer the question definitively,” he said. “I get a sense of feel on the sideline as to where to move with that.”



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