Oct 13, 2012, 9:42 PM EDT
I’d love to sit here and pen an eloquent recap of what happened at Notre Dame Stadium on the night of October 13, 2012, but my head is still spinning, and truthfully, while I consider myself a strong writer, I’m not sure my words will ever fully capture the emotion of the Irish’s 20-13 victory over the Stanford Cardinal.
Still, I’m a blogger, and I’d be remiss to not do my best to tell the story.
On a day when Notre Dame struggled to get the offense rolling, when it turned the football over three times, and when it seemingly followed every big play with a costly mistake, the blue & gold never surrendered. There’s a reason they call them the Fighting Irish.
With College GameDay back on campus for the first time since 2005 and the ESPN broadcast beginning beneath the famed South Bend blue-gray sky, Saturday had all the makings of a memorable afternoon.
But then the rain came down. Hard. The Irish managed just 106 first half yards, and though only trailing by seven points at the break, the outlook felt grim. A shadow appeared destined to fall upon an otherwise unforgettable October day.
The 1812 Overture and Sgt. Tim McCarthy’s safety announcement came and went, yet the story remained the same. The fourth quarter began, the Irish trailed, 10-3, and though driving into Stanford territory, there was a sense that this was just not our afternoon.
Touchdown Irish. Tie score. We’ve got ourselves a ball game in the House That Rockne Built.
Yet Stanford responded with a 27-yard field goal, taking the lead on a 16-play, 8:03 drive. Again, Notre Dame’s perfect record seemed in jeopardy.
It was only on the final Irish drive of the fourth quarter that you got the sense this game was destined for a special ending. After spending nearly 57 minutes on the sidelines, Tommy Rees took over for an injured Golson, the rain came pouring down, and Notre Dame moved to within five yards of winning the game in regulation.
The game headed to overtime and after a seven-yard sack, Rees rebounded with three straight completions, culminating in a touchdown pass to TJ Jones.
The Cardinal took over, and senior back Stepfan Taylor powered the ball down to the three, setting up a 1st-and-goal for the Stanford offense.
And then the night turned magical. The stout Irish defense stopped four consecutive running plays. Students, fans, players crowded the field in jubilant celebration.
Victory. Or so it seemed.
The fourth down ruling on the field was under review – eerily similar to the end of that fateful October night in 2005, the last time GameDay had visited campus.
After a brief delay, the referee confirmed the call. Taylor had been stopped short of the goal line.
A scene unlike anything you can put into words.
A torrential, seemingly biblical downpour could do nothing to stop a postgame celebration for the ages.
The dream season continues. The Irish are 6-0, and tonight won’t ever be forgotten by anyone who had a chance to experience the madness in Notre Dame Stadium.
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