SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kayvon Webster returned a fumble 96 yards for an early touchdown as South Florida travelled to Notre Dame for the first time and stunned the 16th-ranked Irish 23-20 Saturday in a game disrupted for hours because of storms.
The victory gave Skip Holtz an emotional victory in his return to Notre Dame, where he went to school and his dad Lou led the Irish to their last national title in 1988.
Webster's long return for a score four minutes into the game took all the momentum from the Irish and they couldn't recover. It came after Notre Dame had taken the opening kickoff and drove to the USF 1-yard line.
What followed was a nightmare first half that included two fumbles, a costly holding penalty that nullified a Cierre Wood TD run and then an interception of Dayne Crist by USF's Devekeyan Lattimore in the end zone that turned the Irish away.
Maikon Bonani kicked three field goals and the Bulls had a 16-0 halftime lead.
Then things got even stranger.
With the fans getting restless as the teams left the field for halftime and lightning flashing near the stadium, officials asked fans to evacuate Notre Dame Stadium and decided to keep the teams in their locker rooms.
And they stayed there for 2 hours, 10 minutes. When the Irish finally emerged, they had switched quarterbacks from Crist to Tommy Rees, who'd led them to four straight victories as the starter at the end of last season.
The game was delayed a second time by severe weather with 4:21 to go and after a 43-minute delay, Jerrell Young intercepted Rees — Notre Dame's fifth turnover of the game.
Rees threw an 8-yard TD pass to Michael Floyd to cap a 99-yard drive with 21 seconds left as the Irish closed to 23-20. But USF recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
The game lasted 5 hours, 59 minutes.
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