“He’s short! He’s short! No way!” The excitement I felt when the Notre Dame defense stopped Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor on 4th down in the Irish’s 20-13 thrilling overtime win (albeit with some controversy) was excitement I don’t think could be matched by most Irish fans that day. The Irish’s goal line stand was the signature moment of the magical 125th season of Notre Dame Football in my own eyes. By the time the Irish went on their first drive in overtime, my voice was limited and I paced throughout my entire apartment at least fourteen times.
The game was the site of College Gameday and the vibe in South Bend was electric. Vince Vaughn, who most Irish fans know better as Jamie O’Hara from the classic film Rudy, came onto the Gameday set and picked the Irish to beat the Cardinal. Even ESPN analyst Lee Corso picked the Irish by dressing up in a leprechaun suit as the show went off the air. Signs were all over campus about Notre Dame’s number one critic Mark May and Sports Illustrated back page writer Rick Reilly and their doubts about the Irish’s hot start. My personal favorite was Reilly and May featured on a fake movie poster of the hit comedy Dumb and Dumber.
Once the game kicked off, even the rain could not halt what was to happen. Something felt right about that day. The Irish came in at 5-0 and off a 38 point mashing of Miami (FL) in Chicago the week prior. Although the Irish forced the first turnover and found the scoreboard first, Stanford scored 10 unanswered and took control of the game. One of the signature plays in the Irish’s season was Everett Golson’s 24 yard touchdown toss to tight end Tyler Eifert to tie the game at 10 early in the fourth. The teams exchanged field goals throughout the fourth but the Irish suffered a key loss in losing Golson to a concussion.
Tommy Rees came in and led the Irish on their opening drive of overtime and threw a 7 yard strike to TJ Jones to give the Irish the 20-13 lead. Then the fun began. With big gains on the ground from Taylor and quarterback Josh Nunes, the Cardinal looked to be in prime position to force a second overtime. 1st and goal from the Notre Dame 4 yard line: Taylor stuffed. 2nd and goal from the 4: Taylor muscles his way down to the 1 yard line. 3rd and goal: Taylor stuffed once more. Then the play that shook Notre Dame Stadium and probably broke Twitter took place. 4th and goal from the Irish 1, and NBC’s Tom Hammond called the epic play. “4th and goal… Taylor… he’s stopped! Notre Dame wins!”
The enthusiasm and joy I personally felt after that play was something I will never forget. That play became “the play” for this season. Mike Mayock, who help call the game with Tom Hammond, mentioned before the last snap that the Notre Dame defense had not given a touchdown since September (a touchdown on 9/17 against Purdue). This game was on October 13th; incredible dominance shown by the Irish defense.
I screamed with what voice I had left, “You shall not pass!” Not long after I bombed Twitter with roughly 15-20 tweets (mostly in all caps on my laptop keyboard), I dubbed that goal line stand, “The Stand in South Bend”.