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Students, fans lament ND’s overtime loss

Pat Moore | Monday, September 19, 2005

The noise bellowing from the Notre Dame student section in overtime could have sacked Drew Stanton for a loss.

After an electrifying 21-point comeback, the Irish seemed determined to finish off Michigan State Saturday afternoon. From the looks of the student section, Notre Dame was going to win – 8,000 screaming, confident student fans could not possibly be wrong.

Yet the section turned silent when Michigan State handed Notre Dame its first loss of the season. Despite the outcome, however, Irish fans enjoyed the exhilarating, tense game.

“Until the final play, it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen,” marching band member Dennis Rankin said.

Saturday’s home opener was especially meaningful to first-year students, as it was their first home game as students in Notre Dame Stadium. Freshman Allison Lang spoke for most students who had never been inside the Stadium when she described the experience as “surreal,” delighted to be “part of Notre Dame football rather than watching it on T.V.”

Many students, like freshman Andrew Massari, said the Irish could have played better Saturday. Massari said he thought the team was “inconsistent all the way around.”

“There were spots where we were brilliant and spots we were dull on both sides of the ball,” he said.

Some students expressed disgust not with the loss but with the behavior of the Spartans’ players at the conclusion of the game. Many players taunted the Notre Dame fans from the field, and a group of Spartans staked the Michigan State flag at the 50-yard line.

Junior John Corker, a rabid Notre Dame fan, said he was disappointed in the postgame actions of the MSU players.

“It’s understandable that they’re excited that they won, but that showed no class,” Corker said. “Obviously that’s the difference between Michigan State and Notre Dame.”

Most students said despite the loss, they were nonetheless impressed with the game, Charlie Weis’s first at home as Notre Dame head coach.

Freshman J.D. Fitzpatrick – no relation to kicker/punter D.J. Fitzpatrick – said the game showed growth from the team, including resolve in their comeback.

“We showed we were a completely different team from last year,” he said. “If we were down by 21 last year, we would’ve lost by more.”

Senior Himanshu Kothari said he was especially impressed by the play of wide receiver Maurice Stovall.

“Stovall’s performance showed that we can stop putting the heat on Darius Walker, that we have another offensive weapon,” Kothari said.

The loss was certainly a reality check for fans, who had come into Saturday’s game off the high of a 2-0 start against ranked opponents Pittsburgh and Michigan. But students like Massari are no less confident in the Irish than they were before the loss.

“I fully expect to beat USC,” Massari said. “In fact, I’m looking forward to it.”