Northwestern kicker Jack Mitchell had not made a kick longer than 29 yards all season – until Saturday.
The sophomore who doubles as a Wildcats baseball player hit field goals of 31, 46, 45 and 41 yards, including the game-winner in overtime, to give the Wildcats a 43-40 comeback win over Notre Dame in South Bend.
The Fighting Irish led the entire game until Mitchell tied things up at 40 with a 45-yarder with 19 seconds left in regulation. Up 40-37, the Fighting Irish had a chance to run out the clock, but the normally reliable Cam McDaniel fumbled the ball, allowing the Wildcats to take over at their own 28-yard line with 1:28 to go.
Senior quarterback Trevor Siemian (30-of-48, 284 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) quickly led Northwestern down the field, completing five consecutive passes to open the possession. After reaching the Notre Dame 28-yard line, the drive stalled, but Mitchell came through and sent the game to overtime.
The Fighting Irish started the extra frame on offense, but couldn’t gain a single yard. Kicker Kyle Brindza, who had already missed from 38 yards, missed again – this time from 42 yards.
The Wildcats kept it conservative when they took over, running the ball three times for a total of one yard. Mitchell then trotted out again and calmly booted the game-winner, completing the comeback.
Notre Dame seemed to be in control for most of the game, but the Wildcats kept clinging on. The Fighting Irish led by as much as 11 at two different junctures of the game, including with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter when Everett Golson (21-of-40, 287 yards; 78 yards rushing) hit William Fuller for an 11-yard score. After that score, Golson’s fourth (3 passing, 1 rushing) of the day, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly opted to go for two and failed. Instead of taking a 12-point lead with an extra point, the lead was only 11 points (and two possessions, most importantly), 40-29.
That one-point difference would end up haunting Kelly as a Siemian TD run and two-point conversion cut Notre Dame’s lead to three with 4:10 to go. From then came McDaniel’s fumble, Mitchell’s two clutch kicks and a Northwestern win.
The loss could potentially drop the Fighting Irish, who were ranked No. 18, out of the College Football Playoff rankings.
For Northwestern, the win halted a four-game losing streak. Now 4-6, the Wildcats have a chance to reach bowl eligibility with wins over Purdue and Illinois in their last two games of the season.
For more Northwestern news, visit WildcatReport.com.
For more Notre Dame news, visit IrishIllustrated.com.
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