SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Jimmy Clausen threw a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes to freshman Michael Floyd to give Notre Dame a 17-3 halftime lead over visiting Pitt this afternoon.
Floyd followed a spectacular catch by Golden Tate with a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard scoring play with 1:27 remaining. It capped a nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive.
The play was set up by Tate’s third-and-12 catch, where the ball was tipped by cornerback Aaron Berry and deflected off the fingertips of safety Dom DeCicco into those of Tate for a 47-yard gain to the Pitt 32.
Pat Bostick, who started for the injured Bill Stull, then had a pass intercepted by cornerback Raeshon McNeil, who returned it 43 yards to the Pitt 13. Four plays later, Clausen hit Floyd in the upper left corner for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-point lead with four seconds remaining in the half.
Clausen has completed 14 of 23 passes for 173 yards, as Notre Dame has outgained Pitt, 240-71. Pitt’s offense has struggled under the direction of Bostick and Kevan Smith, who have combined to complete 4 of 9 passes for 28 yards. LeSean McCoy leads all rushers with 51 yards on 10 carries.
Pitt drove from its own 12 to the Irish 26 before bungling two key plays. McCoy reversed field on a second-and-5, but was tackled for a 9-yard loss. On third-and-14, Bostick tangled with center C.J. Davis and tripped for a 5-yard loss. The Panthers were forced to punt from the Notre Dame 40.
The Irish answered with the first of their two second-quarter scoring drives.
Notre Dame opened the game with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that saw the Fighting Irish stall at the Pitt 21 and settle for a Brandon Walker 39-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Pitt freshman safety Andrew Taglianetti blocked Eric Maust’s punt, and linebacker Nate Nix recovered at the Notre Dame 20 at the 7:25 mark. It was the seventh blocked kick of the season for the Panthers, the second for Taglianetti, who also partially blocked a punt against Iowa.
Conor Lee’s 35-yard field goal tied the score at 3-3 with 5:58 left in the first.