No. 5 Notre Dame survives upset bid
Fighting Irish rally in 4th to beat Pitt
Associated Press SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Wide receiver Miles Boykin had a message for quarterback Ian Book after the No. 5 Notre Dame remained unbeaten Saturday, coming from behind and then holding off Pittsburgh 19- 14 on Saturday.
“I told him winning is fun, but let’s not win like this again,” the 6- foot- 4 Boykin said after he caught the game- winning, 35- yard touchdown pass from Book with 5: 43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Book- to- Boykin combination is beginning to etch itself in Notre Dame lore along with other combinations such as quarterback Terry Hanratty and wide receiver Jim Seymour, the “Fling and Cling” combo that helped Ara Parseghian’s Irish to the 1966 national championship.
Book and Boykin have had memorable moments before — their 55- yard touchdown with 1: 28 in the Citrus Bowl last Jan. 1 provided the Irish with a 21- 17 victory over LSU.
Saturday’s TD completion helped to improve the Irish to 7- 0 for the first time since 2012, the year they
went to the BCS title game for coach Brian Kelly, who was feeling a little better after the Irish held off the upset bid by the Panthers ( 3- 4).
“Proud of our guys and their grit — they hung in there and found a way to win,” Kelly said. “We were not sharp mentally, we didn’t execute efficiently. They weren’t at their best and Pittsburgh played well. We still found a way.”
Pitt led 14- 12 thanks to a long first- quarter touchdown drive and a 99- yard kickoff return by Maurice Ffrench to start the second half.
But the Irish, who were held to 80 yards rushing, prevailed behind Book, who is 4- 0 as a starter since replacing Brandon Wimbush. Book was intercepted twice, but finished with 264 yards passing. He was 13- of- 14 for 158 yards in the second half.
“I didn’t even see ( Book) throw it,” Boykin said after finishing with four receptions for 84 yards. “I just saw the ball up there and thought I have to catch up to this. It was a dime. ( Ian’s) a baller. He’s always calm and poised.”
As far as Book is concerned, it’s mutual admiration.
“( Miles is) really rangy, so I just got to put it up there and give him a chance,” Book said. “Day in and day out, he works so hard. I think our chemistry is starting to come along a little bit.”
Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers were looking to upset an Associated Press top- five team for the third straight season after knocking off No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley during the 2016 season and No. 2 Miami last November in Pittsburgh.
“I feel bad for our kids in the locker room,” Narduzzi said. “I’m disappointed for them. They fought their tails off. We were ahead almost the entire game. Sometimes you can’t control what you can’t control.”
Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin ( 81) makes the gamewinning touchdown catch over Pittsburgh defensive back Dane Jackson in the fourth quarter of the Irish’s 19- 14 win over Pitt.