SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Brian Kelly's baby, his spread offense, was clicking for a half. Notre Dame's no-huddle was snapping off plays so rapidly that Pitt's defense was hurrying to get organized.
The speed early on was almost dizzying.
But the 17-3 lead the Irish forged by halftime - thanks also to Pitt's struggles to score from inside the 20 - didn't end in a comfortable win for Notre Dame. Not that style points mean anything to Kelly.
"Again, got off to a pretty good start offensively, but as we've shown, we are really good at stubbing our toe, whether it be a penalty here or a drop here. But that's us," Kelly said after the Irish held on to beat the Panthers, 23-17, yesterday. "It's not a beauty contest yet for us."
Quarterback Dayne Crist passed for a TD and ran for another in the first half, completing 12 straight passes at one point. And the Irish got three field goals from David Ruffer, who stayed perfect in his career (16-for-16) and set a school record for consecutive makes.
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri hit Jon Baldwin on a 56-yard TD to bring the Panthers within 23-17 with 7:23 left. Pitt (2-3) got the ball back twice thereafter - at its own 10 with 4:45 to go and again at its 7 with 1:37 remaining. But on its final series, Gary Gray broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Baldwin and Notre Dame (3-3) ran out the clock.- AP