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               === Notre Dame avoids upset with win over BYU ===
 
 South  Bend,  IN (Sports  Network) -  George Atkinson  III scored the go-ahead
 touchdown  early  in the  fourth quarter, and  the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish
 escaped with a 17-14 win over upset-minded BYU at Notre Dame Stadium.
 
 Notre  Dame's  stout defense again held  an opponent under 300 total yards and
 pitched a shutout after trailing, 14-7, at halftime.
 
 Theo  Riddick and Cierre Wood spearheaded a dominating running attack with 143
 and 114 yards, respectively, on the ground, as the Irish (7-0) continued their
 best start since the 2002 season.
 
 "They  were physical  and  we  had a  very  difficult  time making  consistent
 tackles,"  said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I was really impressed with
 their running game today."
 
 Notre  Dame  head coach  Brian Kelly  opted to  sit quarterback Everett Golson
 after  the first-year starter suffered a mild concussion against Stanford last
 week.  Tommy  Rees, seven  days after  finishing off an  overtime win over the
 nationally-ranked Cardinal, completed just 7-of-16 passes for 118 yards with a
 touchdown and an interception.
 
 Kelly said after the game that Golson will start next week against 10th-ranked
 Oklahoma.
 
 Riley Nelson threw for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for
 BYU (4-4), which has dropped its last two games to fall back to .500.
 
 Midway through the third quarter, Riddick got Notre Dame's offense moving with
 a hard-fought 55-yard yard run down to the BYU 8-yard line. Three unsuccessful
 runs up the middle brought out the kicking unit, and Kyle Brindza kicked a 24-
 yard field goal to pull the Irish within 14-10.
 
 After  a quick  BYU punt, Rees found T.J.  Jones at the BYU 41-yard line for a
 32-yard  pickup  for his only completion  after the opening quarter. The Irish
 went  to  the ground the  rest of  the way, and  on 3rd-and-goal from the two,
 Atkinson  took  an end around,  shook a defender at  the line of scrimmage and
 dove over the goal line for the deciding score with 12:52 to play.
 
 A  facemask  penalty extended  BYU's next  drive, and  the Cougars reached the
 opposing 31 before a sack by Stephon Tuitt and Carlo Calabrese pushed the ball
 back to the 40.
 
 BYU  eventually punted with  6:10 remaining, and Notre Dame ran off all but 22
 seconds by gaining three first downs -- all via the run.
 
 Danny  Spond intercepted  Nelson's desperation heave in the closing seconds to
 seal the tight victory.
 
 "Really  proud  of my team and  the way they competed, particularly the second
 half,"  Kelly said. "(We) came in here wanting to run the football. Thought we
 controlled that quite well."
 
 Tyler Eifert led the Irish with 73 yards on four receptions, including a four-
 yard grab for the only score of the opening 15 minutes.
 
 Notre  Dame's defense had not allowed a touchdown in 17 quarters, then gave up
 two in a span of 2:18 midway through the second quarter.
 
 The  first came  on 3rd-and-goal pass from  the six, as Nelson hit a wide open
 Cody  Hoffman  in the back  of the end  zone to tie the  game with 8:25 on the
 clock.
 
 On  the third  play of the ensuing possession, Rees' pass went through DaVaris
 Daniels'  hands, off his  helmet and into the arms of linebacker Kyle Van Noy,
 who returned the interception nine yards to the Notre Dame 30 yard-line.
 
 Nelson and Kaneakua Friel hooked up for a 2-yard score a little later, and the
 Cougars  took a 14-7 lead into the locker room after Brindza missed his second
 field  goal. Brindza  was off  the mark  on a  40-yard attempt  on the  game's
 opening drive and pushed a 28-yard try wide right late in the half.
 
 BYU's  Justin Sorensen also  missed wildly to the left on a 46-yard attempt in
 the third quarter.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 BYU  gained  243 total  yards, the  sixth straight opponent  held to under 300
 yards by Notre Dame ... The Irish have not allowed a rushing touchdown in nine
 straight games dating back to last season ... Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o
 recorded  his fourth  interception of the season  ... BYU came in third in the
 nation  in  rush defense (67.9  ypg) and  gave up 270  yards on the ground ...
 Hoffman  led all  players with  eight catches  for 86  yards ...  BYU's Jamaal
 Williams gained 106 yards from scrimmage, including 64 on 14 carries.
 
 10/21 01:53:08 ET