Notre Dame closed the third quarter with a 27-25 lead over Tulsa.
After a bad end to the first half, Notre Dame started the second half strong.
Irish cornerback Darrin Walls recovered a fumble on the Irish 19-yard line, and quarterback Tommy Rees guided a nine-play scoring drive.
Rees, who threw two interceptions to close the first half, was 4-of-6 passing on the drive with three throws going for first downs and the final a 6-yard toss to running back Cierre Wood for a touchdown and a 27-18 lead with 8:47 to play in the third quarter.
But less than four minutes later, Tulsa deflated the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium again.
Golden Hurricane receiver Damaris Johnson returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Irish lead to 27-25 with 4:49 to play in the third. Three Notre Dame players had a shot to bring Johnson down, but all missed.
It was Johnson's second career punt return for a touchdown, and the first time Notre Dame had a punt returned for a score on it since Penn State did it in 2007.