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Victory warms cold hands, hearts in stands

O'Brien, Dan | Monday, November 10, 2003

Students rejoiced Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium, thankful that a recent statement by Tyrone Willingham held true following the Irish win over the Midshipmen for the 40th consecutive year.

“At some point, Navy will play better than Notre Dame and win the football game, but you just tell your team it doesn’t have to be this year,” Willingham said Saturday.

Fans were noticeably tense before the game but showed increased enthusiasm as the quarters progressed.

Freshman Garret Jost said he thought expectations for the game were low but the outcome brought new life to a crowd that had witnessed two consecutive home losses. He also said he felt the family presence at the Navy game – a parent game – helped the atmosphere.

“I’m glad my parents saw a win at home,” Jost said. “Even though they were cold, they saw the beauty of Notre Dame football.”

Juniors Jenna Linder and Allison Vater were happy to see such a game Saturday, following the abysmal outcomes of the past two games.

“It was a good time for a win, especially at home,” Linder said. “I was happy for D.J. Fitzpatrick and for the rest of the team.”

Sophomore John Burkardt said he was most impressed by the conduct of Navy students at the game and the respect they showed for Notre Dame fans.

“Navy fans are among the best in college football, rooting hard for their team without being disrespectful,” he said.

Many band students also appreciated the attitude of the Navy team. Following the game, members of the team avoided disrupting the marching formations as other opponents had done after past games this season.

“They [Navy fans] were in the Notre Dame section playfully mocking our pushups,” Vater said.

While the overall atmosphere was positive Saturday, there were hints of apathy in the actions of some fans. Many students had sold their tickets to the game, evidenced by the number of families present in the sophomore section. Other students said they saw the crowd paying more attention to the cheerleaders’ competition than the game.

Senior Troy Montgomery said he was glad the stands were full considering the team’s losing record and the weather, but he expressed displeasure at the actions of some of his fellow students in the stands.

“Some of my friends arrived in the middle of the first quarter and left at halftime to tailgate, even though the score was 14-10,” Montgomery said. “We need to stick with our team and show our support for the remainder of the season.”