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Irish fall in final seconds

Dan Brombach | Monday, September 12, 2011

Sadness, anger and disbelief were three overwhelming emotions of Notre Dame fans as they exited the “Big House” Saturday following a heart-breaking loss to rival Michigan.  


A night that began full of promise for Notre Dame ended in stunning defeat, as the Irish lost 31-35 and Michigan scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.


Like many other students, freshman Max Veregge, a member of the Notre Dame marching band, said he experienced a rollercoaster of emotions during the game.


“Losing was crazy because I went from being extremely depressed, to being extremely excited and then back to being extremely depressed in about 30 seconds,” he said. “The range of emotions was intense.”


Students said the atmosphere at Michigan Stadium, known as the “Big House,” was hyped up and chaotic.


Dan O’Brien, a sophomore who was also at the game, said it was unlike anything he had seen before.


“The atmosphere was absolutely electric,” O’Brien said.  “It was the loudest and craziest sporting event I’ve been to.  Even during  dull points the crowd was absolutely insane.”


O’Brien said the Notre Dame student section was drowned out at points by the masses of Michigan fans.


“Our student section was loud but it wasn’t well-organized,” he said.  “There were some points during the game when it just went dead.”


He said he was also struck by the intensity of the Michigan alumni present at the game.


“The alumni were as loud, if not louder, than the student section,” O’Brien said. “They knew the student chants and did them throughout the game.  That’s something that I would really like to see here at Notre Dame.”


With roughly 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Irish scored a 31-28 lead, causing an ecstatic response from the Notre Dame student section.  


But Michigan promptly answered, driving down the field and scoring on quarterback Denard Robinson’s touchdown pass as the stadium exploded in cheering.  


Irish fans’ devastation was palpable, students said.


In addition to witnessing their team lose, students who made the trip to Ann Arbor had to endure the aftermath in an unfriendly environment.  


Sophomore Kevin Noonan, a member of The Observer Scene staff, said leaving the stadium was difficult.


“I felt like my soul had just been ripped out,” Noonan said.  “We definitely got sworn at a lot.  It wasn’t just that the Michigan fans were sore winners, it was that many were borderline hostile toward us.”


Even though his first Notre Dame games as a student ended in defeat, Veregge said he’s still optimistic about the football season.


“This past game was so volatile that it was really anybody’s game.  As such, I’m still optimistic about the season,” he said. “Emotionally this was a heartbreaking loss, but it made me feel better that our team played harder and better than we did against USF.”


Still, combined with the Irish loss to South Florida on Sept. 3, other students said it’s difficult not to feel angry.

As sophomore Nick Rischard said, “We beat ourselves again.  Plain and simple.”