SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Boston College broke Notre Dame's heart again.
Paul Peterson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez with 54 seconds left to give Boston College a 24-23 come-from-behind victory Saturday
over Notre Dame (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP), the Eagles' fourth straight win over the Irish.
This loss didn't hurt as much as the 14-7 loss two years ago, when Boston College (5-2) ended Notre Dame's undefeated season, or 11 years ago, when
the Eagles beat the Irish 41-39 to deny them a shot at the national championship. But it was still a big setback for the 24th-ranked Irish (5-3).
"It hurts," Irish coach Tyrone Willingham said. "We let it slip out of our hands. This was an important game for the season, for the program."
The Eagles dominated the second half after trailing 20-7 at halftime, outgaining the Irish 319 yards to 122 yards. The Irish were held to just 24
yards rushing in the second half.
"At halftime it was time for us to make a stand," BC coach Tom O'Brien said.
Peterson engineered the comeback, going 27-of-41 for 383 yards, including 19-of-23 for 297 yards in the second half. He had a 21-yard TD pass to Joel
Hazard in the third quarter and set up a 21-yard field goal by Ryan Ohliger early in the fourth that cut the lead to 20-17.
"He was just poised," Gonzalez said. "That's the best thing about him."
Gonzalez made a great catch on the game-winning touchdown, going up over Irish cornerback Mike Richardson and coming down with the ball in the end
"Tony just made a great play. That was awesome," Peterson said. "I just had to put it in a place where he could get it."
Gonzalez said he and Richardson jumped at the same time.
"He got higher than me, but his momentum was bringing him forward. I ducked under and got the ball," Gonzalez said.
Two key defensive plays in the first half kept the Eagles within range of Notre Dame. Jazzmen Williams intercepted Brady Quinn's pass at BC's 1 and
DeJuan Tribble picked off Quinn at the Eagles 11.
The Irish also struggled in the second half with a number of missed tackles, allowing BC to keep some drives alive. They also missed what turned out
to be a game-deciding extra point wide right on their third touchdown.
"I thought we missed a great number of opportunities to make plays," Willingham said. "We just did not take advantage of what we though were
opportunities to get ourselves off the field or keep ourselves off the field."
Quinn was 20-of-33 for 231 yards with a TD pass and a touchdown run, but couldn't get the Irish going in the second half.
"At halftime I called everyone out, including myself, and told them to step up," Eagles linebacker Ray Henderson said. "I said, 'This is our season.
We need this win."
The Eagles didn't let up when their first drive of the second half stalled at the Notre Dame and 22-yard field goal attempt by Ohliger was blocked by
Derek Landri. The Eagles came right back on their next possession with a touchdown when Joel Hazard scored on a 21-yard pass from Peterson. Hazard
caught the ball at the 14 and just got into the end zone before Quentin Burrell knocked him out of bounds.
D.J. Fitzpatrick's 43-yard field goal upped the lead to 23-17 with 2:51 left, more than enough time for Peterson to direct the game-winning drive.
"Peterson did a great job in the second half spreading the ball around and taking what the Notre Dame defense would give us," O'Brien said. "When we
can do that is when Paul is at his best."
A 55-yard field goal attempt by Fitzpatrick fell well short as time expired.
The Eagles narrowed Notre Dame's lead in what has become a heated rivalry to 9-7. Two years ago when Boston College beat the Irish in South Bend, the
Eagles tore up pieces of turf from Notre Dame Stadium, just as they had after a win in 1999. They didn't do it Saturday.
"I told them to get off the field," O'Brien said. "That was not a good episode for our school and it's not going to happen again."
The teams don't play the next two years, but O'Brien said he hopes the rivalry will continue.
"Every season it is a great game and it has become a great rivalry between the two schools," he said. "I don't know why you would not want to play