PALO ALTO, California (Ticker) -- The luck of the Irish again abandoned Notre Dame.
Just when it appeared the Fighting Irish were on the verge of salvaging at least some of their season, 13th-ranked Stanford erupted for two touchdowns in the final 7 1/2 minutes and added to Bob Davie's misery with a 17-13 victory.
Stanford closed to 13-10 on Casey Moore's nine-yard touchdown with 7:22 remaining and took the lead on a one-yard TD plunge by Kenneth Tolon II with 1:08 left.
"I don't want to make excuses, but we did not have the energy today," Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham said. "Our defense, with the exception of one or two plays, had a hell of a game. Once we got our rhythm, we took off offensively and defensively and special teams."
The loss ended Notre Dame's bowl hopes and put Davie's job in further jeopardy. The Fighting Irish dropped to 4-6 and conclude their season next week at Purdue. They are headed to their second losing season in five years under Davie.
Once one of the prime attractions of college football, Notre Dame also has lost nine straight night games. Its last victory under the lights came at Hawaii on November 29, 1997.
"We had a lot of injuries entering the game, but that doesn't matter," Davie said. "We tried some different things, but couldn't seem to get anything going in the second half, even though we had some great field position in the third quarter."
Notre Dame's hopes ended when Tank Williams intercepted Matt LoVecchio with 1:02 left.
"I saw him looking left and I just played his eyes and picked the ball off," Williams said. "It was very special in my last game at Stanford, and I was able to get the one to clinch the victory."
Stanford rallied in a steady rain to improve to 8-2 and finishes its regular season next week at San Jose State.
Notre Dame appeared to be in control despite a non-existent passing attack as Carlyle Holiday and LoVecchio were a combined 1-for-19 through the air for 64 yards.
"I thought they competed hard until the end, but it's obvious you're not going to win the football game when your quarterback only completes one pass," Davie said.
Holiday's only completion was a 47-yard TD pass to Omar Jenkins that gave Notre Dame a 7-3 lead with 2:12 left in the first quarter. Holiday was 1-for-16 and LoVecchio was 0-for-3 after taking over late in the third period. Arnaz Battle completed his only pass for 17 yards.
Nicholas Setta kicked a 23-yard field goal 2:47 into the second period and added a 38-yarder to give the Irish a 13-3 lead with 7:39 to go in the third quarter.
Notre Dame put intense pressure on Randy Fasani, who was sacked four times and completed 8-of-23 passes for 159 yards and an interception. The Fighting Irish held Brian Allen's Stanford's leading rusher, to just 15 yards on seven carries.
Allen came into the game needing 178 yards in the final games to become Stanford's fifth 1,000-yard runner.
But with Notre Dame content to sit on the lead, the Cardinal got their offense untracked just in time, putting together scoring drives of 81 yards on seven yards and 59 yards on 10 plays. Tolon paced Stanford on the ground with 133 yards on 19 carries.
"Our offensive line did a great job against a tough defensive team," Tolon said. "The line was consistent all game and things just started to open up in the fourth quarter."
Julius Jones rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries for Notre Dame, an average of 7.6 yards per carry, but most of that was in the first half.
"The game was there for us and it was in the hands of the offense at the end," LoVecchio said. "All we needed to do was drive down field and get ourselves in position to kick a field goal."
But Stanford's defense would not the Irish any scoring chances in the fourth quarter.
"We battled back and it showed the true heart of the team," Williams said. "I wouldn't want it any other way but for the defense to clinch the victory. I will always remember my last (home) game and how we came back."
Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 10-6, but Stanford has won the last two meetings.