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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

A Game to Remember: Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

Grant Sarnowski
The scene in South Bend was full of excitement and enthusiasm.

First of all, as an avid Wisconsin Badgers football fan, I did not have a dog in the hunt. When my roommate told me he had secured tickets for this massive game, I had to say yes. Ohio State vs. Notre Dame was not only College Gameday’s matchup of the week, but this doubled as a historic Midwest rivalry that has lasted for the last 100 years.

One of my roommates reminded me that Notre Dame had not beaten Ohio State since 1936, he was an Ohio State fan. His other roommate, a Notre Dame fan, reminded me that the two titans had only played five times since then. I was salivating at this spectacular matchup.

All the storylines were there. An Ohio State team with a new QB moving down in the rankings against a Notre Dame team with a star transfer QB, Sam Hartman, who was coming off of crushing wins against multiple opponents. Two juggernauts of college football owed the fans an absolute classic and, without a shadow of a doubt, they delivered.

The journey to South Bend was filled with anticipation, excitement and a little bit of nerves. The historic program that breathed tradition and success had not quite delivered for our generation, seeing as its last championship came in 1988.

This was arguably the biggest game of the season for Notre Dame and would set up the path to the college football playoff. A win would put Notre Dame back in the top tier of modern college football programs. The electric atmosphere in South Bend was contagious. You had to try to not feel the energy. Campus was vibrant, rowdy and hopeful, as the team they loved prepared to battle with what seemed like the entire state of Ohio.

An ocean of green covered the stands, but not fully. Ohio State fans had shown up and represented well. Chants started with “OH” and were responded to by “IO”, routinely filling fans’ eardrums.

The first half of the game was dominated by defense. Fans saw a punt, followed by a turnover on downs, followed by a punt, followed by another punt, until we saw a missed field goal by Notre Dame, and then our first score, which came in the form of a Buckeye field goal with three minutes left in the half. The low-scoring game was not expected, but I felt lucky to be seeing such a close game, two quarters in. Notre Dame fans were frustrated by their lack of a first-half offense, but grateful for their stellar defense keeping them in the game.

Sarnowski and friends smile for a picture during the second half in South Bend.

Let me preface by saying that the second half was the best college football I have ever seen. After a failed fourth down conversion for the Irish, Ohio State fans roared as star RB Treveyon Henderson exploded for a 61-yard TD. This score would put the Buckeyes up 10-0. Notre Dame was stunned, sitting down with disappointment. But, then came a swift and dramatic response from the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame embarked on a 75-yard, eight-minute drive that culminated in their first touchdown, closing the gap to 10-7. Deafening chants of support filled the stadium as fans began to believe in the possibility of a historic victory. A quick three-and-out for the Buckeyes only amplified this hope.

Remarkably, the stagnant Notre Dame offense that we saw in the first half transformed into an unstoppable force. The Fighting Irish marched an astonishing 96 yards down the field to score their second touchdown, seizing their first lead of the game. My Notre Dame-loving roommate was on cloud nine, high-fiving every fan in sight, while Ohio State fans behind us sat in stunned silence. The score stood at 14-10 in favor of Notre Dame.

What happens next will live in infamy for Notre Dame fans for decades to come. Ohio State had the ball on the 35-yard line with 1:26 on the clock, with one timeout, down by four. I believed that QB Kyle McCord had looked flat all game and fans could smell and taste a historic victory. On the first, third down, McCord threw a dart into Notre Dame territory that silenced the crowd. The atmosphere was tense. Everybody was on their feet. Ohio State then faced a fourth and seven on the Notre Dame 39.

The kid in front of me was mustering up the courage to rush the field. Adult fans in the area quickly scolded him for the pre-emptive comment. Ohio State got the first down by the skin of their teeth. Time was running out for the Buckeyes, but, despite an intentional grounding penalty and a dropped interception in the hands of an Irish DB, McCord found Marvin Harrison Jr. at the one-yard line with seven seconds left.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Ohio State elected to throw next. The pass was incomplete, with three seconds left on the clock to get just one yard. My Notre Dame-loving roommate had his face buried in his hands, praying to the distant image of “Touchdown Jesus.”

Then, in a heart-pounding moment, the ball was snapped and Ohio State ran it in for the game-winning touchdown with just one second remaining on the clock. The reaction from Ohio State fans around me was a mixture of jubilation, hugs and beaming smiles. In contrast, the Notre Dame faithful were left in stunned disbelief.

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  • J

    Jeff MarkelloOct 10, 2023 at 12:20 am

    Awesome article kept me on the edge of my seat… nobody narrates a story as well as Grant Sarnowski!