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Notre Dame survives thanks to clutch effort from Everett Golson

Freshman quarterback Everett Golson sparked the Fighting Irish's comeback Saturday, keeping national title hopes alive in South Bend.

Jonathan Daniel

Freshman Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has avoided the clutch moment several times this year, giving way to backup quarterback Tommy Rees instead.

On Saturday, however, the moment was his alone, and he captured it.

Golson marched the Fighting Irish offense 50 yards in 52 seconds for a touchdown, tied the game with a scrambling two-point conversion and, ultimately, punched in the game-winning touchdown in triple overtime to defeat Pittsburgh and keep Notre Dame's national title hopes alive.

Head coach Brian Kelly rewarded his freshman quarterback with the game ball, according to J.J. Stankevitz of Comcast Sports Net Chicago.

"I thought he competed his butt off," coach Brian Kelly said of Golson. "He's not perfect, but the boy competes. And man, he just kept competing in the second half and found a way for us to get points on the board, so he got the game ball."

Golson was pulled early in the second half in favor of Rees, but he was quickly put back into the game following a costly interception by Rees. While on the sidelines, the benching did not sit well with Golson.

"To be honest, I was a little upset just because the competitor in me wanted to be out there."

A mid-game benching could potentially destroy the confidence of a young quarterback, but Golson was inspired by the move, not discouraged. His mentality impressed offensive captain Zach Martin.

"He's been growing every week...And for him to come out there and drive the ball down, get benched, then come back in and win the game for us, it just shows his character and how much he's grown as a football player."