Jack Coan found Michael Mayer for an 18-yard touchdown with 1:09 remaining as No. 8 Notre Dame survived a wild closing stretch to edge visiting Toledo 32-29 on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
After a scoreless third quarter, the teams combined for 31 fourth-quarter points with the Fighting Irish (2-0) barely hanging on against the upset-minded Rockets (1-1).
Toledo’s Dequan Finn scored on a 26-yard touchdown run with 1:35 to play, putting the visitors ahead 29-24. He opted not to slide at the 1, which would have given Toledo an opportunity to run out most of the clock before a last-second field goal attempt.
Coan then connected with Kevin Austin for 34 yards to ignite the decisive drive before a pair of penalties set up Coan’s game-winning pass to Mayer up the middle of the field. Wide receiver Avery Davis found Kyren Williams for the ensuing two-point conversion.
Toledo never threatened on its final drive. Rockets quarterback Carter Bradley was sacked and fumbled to effectively end the game.
Coan finished 21 of 33 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Mayer contributed seven catches for 81 yards and two scores for the Fighting Irish, who were playing in front of their home fans for the first time in nearly two years.
Bradley (17 of 27 for 213 yards), Bryant Koback (21 carries, 122 yards, TD) and Devin Maddox (nine catches, 135 yards) were among the offensive stars for Toledo.
The Fighting Irish trailed 16-14 entering the fourth quarter before Jonathan Doerer’s 48-yard field goal put them in front 2 1/2 minutes into the period.
The Rockets punted on their next drive, giving the ball back to Notre Dame near midfield. On the next play, Tyler Buchner hit a wide-open Chris Tyree down the left sideline for a 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Now trailing 24-16, Toledo’s Koback took a shovel pass 8 yards to the end zone, but the two-point conversion pass failed. The Fighting Irish then squandered a chance to put away the game when Williams fumbled with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
Bradley and Isaiah Winstead hooked up for a pair of 15-yard completions on the ensuing drive before Finn sprinted to the end zone, giving the Rockets their final lead of the game.
–Field Level Media