Ohio State vs Notre Dame 1995

by Robert Stevenson

IRISH STEWED

Ninety-five thousand, five-hundred and thirty-seven fans, the largest official crowd ever in Ohio Stadium, watched Ohio State trail the entire first half before battling back to beat Notre Dame 45-26. Finally, at last, sixty years of humility are over. No more excuses. The Buckeyes won.

The Bucks began the game on the wrong foot much like Coach John Cooper did, when he stumbled coming out of the locker room onto the field before the game. It happened while passing through a human tunnel composed of 500-plus former OSU athletes lined-up across the field. According to one witness, "Cooper bought the farm. He did a head-plant, face into the turf." Fortunate to avoid serious injury, Cooper was still limping on the sideline well into the second quarter.

After an early exchange of possessions, OSU marched down to the Irish three-yardline. Shunning the chip-shot fieldgoal, they were unable to punch it into the endzone on fourth-down. The Buckeyes didn't threaten again until after the Irish had built a 10-0 lead. A seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive was capped by a ten-yard pass from Bobby Hoying to Terry Glenn, cutting the lead to 10-7.

ND added another TD before half-time, but so did OSU on a 12-play, 76-yard drive. It ended with another Hoying touchdown pass, this time to Dimitrious Stanley with just 44 seconds left in the half, leaving ND up 17-14 midway.

Those within earshot of the locker room said Cooper's half-time pep talk rivaled the one he gave at last year's Michigan game, except he didn't break the blackboard or cut himself.

The second half began much like the first, dismal. A 17-play Irish drive led to the 2-yardline, until defensive end Mike Vrable made a big hit on fullback Marc Edwards on third & goal, causing a fumble. Recovered by ND, they settled for three-points. Trailing 20-14, the clock now said 9:24 left in the third quarter. It was gutcheck time.

OSU's next possession ended three and out, but Brent Bartholomew's punt was fumbled by receiver Emmit Mosely and then recovered at the 19-yardline by Dean Kreuzer, the Buckeye's long-snapper. On third down from the fifteen, Hoying connected with tight-end Rickey Dudley, the 6' 7" 240-pound former forward for Randy Ayers' basketball team, at the six-yardline. Rickey then slowly dragged four ND defenders all the way into the endzone to tie the game 20-20. The stadium went berserk. Sixty-years of pent-up frustration released in one roaring moment.

Josh Jackson, who has missed three point-after attempts already this season, safely split the uprights to put the Bucks ahead for good. In fact, Jackson was perfect on the day, scoring a total of nine points.

ND soon stalled on their next possession, deep in the north part of the field. The crowd noise reached an unofficial, all-time record high. Fortunately for the Bucks, ND had insisted on a referee crew composed entirely of Mid-America Conference ref's, who normally officiate all the ND home games. Big Ten referees have been notorious in recent years, especially Michigan games, for penalizing the Buckeyes due to crowd noise. Instead, the MAC referees merely called two official's time-outs to....CHANGE THE BALL?

Twice the MAC ref's helped-out quarterback Ron Powlus, holding his ears while standing behind the center. They stopped the game in order to bring in a different ball from the sideline and switch them. The delays dissipated the noise, albeit slightly. On third-and-ten, noise finally forced ND to call a time-out. During the break, The Best Damn Fans In The Land (TBDFITL) quieted down.

It worked. Powlus then threw to his split-end, All-America Derrick Mayes, who burned defender Shawn Springs for a 56-yard pass, keeping the Irish drive alive. Three plays later, in another crucial third-and-long situation, Powlus again called Mayes' number. This time Springs gave Mayes a punishing chuck at the line of scrimmage, delaying the timing-pattern pass just enough that the ball sailed way over Mayes' head. It looked
uncatchable, but.....

But then Springs sprang. Totally airborne, soaring like Superman, Shawn made a diving, fingertip interception just barely inbounds at the 11-yardline, his third INT of the season. Three plays later Terry Glenn took a simple ten-yard curl pass from Hoying and outraced ND cornerback Allen Rossum, who runs the 100-meter dash in 10.2 seconds, and a host of other Irish defenders 82 yards to the north endzone and into the waiting
arms of many vocal OSU fans.

The previous unofficial record for loudest crowd noise, set just minutes earlier, was completely shattered as the stadium erupted into thunderous cheering and applause and actual throwing of babies out the windows. Block 'O' cheering section looked like popcorn cooking in full boil. Pure Pandemonium.

Did the noise make a difference? Nobody can say for sure. However, on the next Irish play from scrimmage, at the ear-splitting north end of the field, Powlus fumbled the snap and defensive tackle Matt Bonhaus recovered at the fourteen-yardline. Coach Lou Holtz bowed his head as far as it could go, restricted by the elastic neck brace he had on due to some minor surgery.

Now leading 28-20, Cooper took the advice that former All-America, All-Pro Pete Johnson gave him at the Quarterback Club the previous Monday, and began running up the middle every time. Eddie Money-in-the-Bank, the Gorgeous George, had a typical (for him) game. Couple touchdowns. Couple hundred yards and then some. Moved into second place in the media Heisman Watch. On the third play of the drive, Fast Eddie scored on a 5-yard sweep around the left side, to put the Buckeyes up 35-20.

ND scored its only second-half touchdown in the fourth quarter, to cut the lead to nine points. Now desperate, Powlus tried to run it in for two-points, but he was cuffed and stuffed in the ND backfield.

With 7:30 left in the fourth quarter, the Notre Dame fans were carried out of the stadium. Literally. All five of them. Worried about the 85-degree heat and his out-of-shape boys, Holtz had huge fans placed along the ND bench to cool the players. It became obvious the fans weren't needed, the Irish were cold as cucumbers.

A four-play, 80-yard drive culminated when Steady Eddie bulled over left tackle Orlando 'Big Dog' Pace from the three-yardline. Notre Dame was then stopped deep in their own territory. Trailing 42-26, the Irish lined-up in punt formation, but everyone in the world knew Holtz would call for a fake kick. A quick, short snap went to fullback Marc Edwards, who broke to the right. Defensive back Alonzo Shavers, who had earlier forced Emmit Mosely's fumbled punt reception, was waiting to knock Edwards out of bounds well shy of the first down.

With 2:37 showing on the clock, WBNS radio announcer and former Buckeye fullback Jeff Logan, said, "Put the dog in the truck. The hunt is over." When back-up fullback Pepe Pearson came out for the next series, Logan added, "Put Eddie in the truck, too."

After the final seconds ticked away, thousands of OSU fans stormed onto the field. For whatever reason, police guarding the south goalposts did not use pepper spray like they did after the Michigan win last season, and let the jovial students climb up the poles. The goalposts are rooted in nine tons of concrete, and only wiggled under the weight of the fans who tried to bring them down.

Coach Cooper and many players joined the fans at the big gray O on the 50-yardline, and as the victory bell pealed from the east tower, Cooper told the players, "You'll remember this game for the rest of your lives. You are the first Ohio State team to beat Notre Dame."

Let us pray they won't be the last.

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