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Students lament football loss

Jack Rooney | Monday, November 11, 2013

A number of Notre Dame students made the nearly 400-mile trek to Pittsburgh to watch the Fighting Irish fall to the Pittsburgh Panthers in a disappointing loss Saturday night.

Sophomore Connor Hayes, a Pittsburgh native, said he traveled home for the game, which was the 69th meeting between the two schools. Hayes said attending the game was a unique opportunity to combine his two homes.

“It was really kind of awesome to be able to go to a Notre Dame game in my hometown,” Hayes said. “At the same time, it was really weird because the game took up so much time on Saturday that it was like I wasn’t even home.”

Hayes said the game was “overall frustrating” and the ambiance inside Heinz Field did not help Notre Dame.

“The atmosphere in the stadium was flat on the Pitt side … but we let Pitt take advantage of us,” Hayes said.
“At the start of the game, there really wasn’t much of an atmosphere [in the stadium]. The Notre Dame people didn’t want to be too loud, and the Pitt fans weren’t into it.

“Outside of the [Pittsburgh] student section, there wasn’t much energy. It was very flat. But that started to change when the tide of the game changed, and Pitt fans really came alive.”

Sophomore Gabe Jacobs said the game was disappointing because the Irish had a good chance of winning.

“I think we blew it. It was a winnable game and we made a few mistakes that really cost us,” Jacobs said. “Overall, we didn’t play poorly, but at the same time, we didn’t play mistake-free.”

Sophomore Nicole Zielinski said she stayed on campus to watch the game and her friends were incredulous at the loss.

“I watched the game in the dorms with my friends,” Zielinski said. “There was a lot of disbelief, and then it was just sad.”

Freshman Ryan Loughran said the game was an “utter disappointment” and ended Notre Dame’s hopes of a BCS bowl berth.

“I can’t even bring myself to write the score on the board outside my door,” Loughran said.  

Hayes said Notre Dame was well represented in Pittsburgh, partly because of the relatively short drive from South Bend to Pittsburgh.

“At least 30 to 40 percent of the stadium were probably Notre Dame people,” Hayes aid. “There’s such a large Notre Dame presence in Pittsburgh, plus it’s only about a five-and-a-half hour drive.”

Hayes said the city of Pittsburgh and the nature of Heinz Field added a different feel to the Notre Dame football experience.

“I just personally like where Heinz Field is,” he said. “It’s in a great location downtown, and it was a cool change of scenery from South Bend.”

Hayes said his interaction with Pittsburgh fans was similar to that of previous experiences, though the loss made it slightly more difficult to deal with opposing fans.

“Before the game, [the interaction] was not as bad as I’ve seen in the past,” he said. “There was some minor taunting, but nothing out of the ordinary. Toward the end, it got a little obnoxious.”

Contact Jack Rooney at jrooney1@nd.edu