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Top Notre Dame Football Performances since 2000: #9

#9: Everett Golson vs. Pittsburgh - November 3rd, 2012

Everett Golson took the Irish on his shoulders against the Panthers
Everett Golson took the Irish on his shoulders against the Panthers
Jonathan Daniel

The Performance:

#9: Everett Golson vs. Pittsburgh (November 3rd, 2012)

The Stat Line:

23 for 42, 227 Passing Yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT | 15 Rushes, 74 Rushing Yards, 1 Rushing TD

The Final Score:

#3 Notre Dame 29 - Pittsburgh 26

The game that made all ND fans' hearts skip a beat. Our Irish came into the Pittsburgh game flying high after beating Oklahoma 30-13 in Norman, and were favored by 18 points. After what was arguably the biggest win for the program in the past 20 years, Notre Dame fans everywhere feared a letdown with the team coming back home.

Those fears were almost immediately realized. Notre Dame's offense committed 5 penalties in the first quarter, stalling out two otherwise productive drives. ND's defense looked like Swiss cheese and tackled poorly, allowing Ray Graham to start the game off with a 55 yard run, and later score on a 16 yard scamper. In the second quarter, Everett Golson was pulled in favor of Tommy Rees after several consecutive incompletions and total lack of reading his progressions. Brian Kelly would go on to say in the press conference "... [Golson] missed a number of things we thought he should have down by this time."

The Irish went into halftime down 10-6 after several missed opportunities and easily the worst half of football the team had played. They needed a spark coming out of halftime. After trading a few punts to begin the second half, Tommy Rees threw a horrible interception directly into the arms of DB Eric Williams. Tino Sunseri and the Pitt offense took immediate advantage with a 3-play, 52-yard touchdown drive to go up 17-6.

Brian Kelly found the trust in Golson and put him back into the game following the Rees interception. After a couple of stalled drives, the Irish found themselves down 20-6 to begin the fourth quarter. That's when the Everett Golson show started. Using his feet on several occasions to keep the early fourth quarter drive alive, and aided by a pass interference call in the Pitt red zone, Golson finally found TJ Jones for an 11 yard touchdown one minute into the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 20-12 following a missed extra point.

Notre Dame's defense was able to hold on the next possession, including a sack from Kapron Lewis-Moore and Stephon Tuitt on 3rd down, forcing a punt. Everett Golson and the Irish offense took the field with 10 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. Golson went on to lead the Irish to a 15 play, 91 yard drive, gaining 3 of the 5 first downs in the drive with his feet. It was a great individual effort from Golson until the final play of the drive, a crushing interception in the endzone to K'Waun Williams.

It was a dagger to Irish fans. A replay of so many of the games we had seen from this team in 2011 (and years earlier). This was a game we were going to lose. There were 4 minutes left in the game, we were facing a great running back in Ray Graham, and we'd received an offensive performance that was iffy at best. The Irish got a stop on defense, and put the ball into Everett Golson's hands, hoping for a last gasp effort.

Golson took the first snap of the drive and launched a beautiful 45 yard pass to DaVaris Daniels, allowing him to adjust to the ball in the air and haul in the catch at the Pitt 6 yard line. It was time for Everett Golson to take the game into his own hands:

Golson had pretty much singlehandedly dragged the Irish back into a game, that just 1 minute earlier, they were almost out of. After the entire team, including himself, had played one of their worst games of the season. This was the moment we saw EG grow up; we didn't have to worry about him losing his composure or not having it after these two plays.

In overtime, following a trade of field goals, a Cierre Wood goal line fumble, and a missed Pitt field goal, it was only fitting that Everett Golson would score the game winning touchdown. When you are starting a redshirt freshman QB at Notre Dame, these are the moments you look for. Handling adversity and becoming a leader weren't in many descriptions of Golson before this game. After this game, it's hard to say anything about him without mentioning those attributes. On a day when nothing went as planned for the Irish, Everett Golson took it on himself to win the game against Pitt and save Notre Dame's perfect 2012 campaign.

The List:

#9 -- Everett Golson vs. Pittsburgh (November 3rd, 2012)

#10 -- Julius Jones & Joey Getherall vs. #1 Nebraska (September 9th, 2000)