Winning kick just a backyard play

November 18, 1990|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Correspondent

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Craig Fayak stood around waiting to kick, Penn State's freshman place-kicker pulled over holder Bill Spoor and yelled in his ear.

"Just like in the backyard," Fayak told Spoor.

Fayak had made this kind of kick many times back home in Belle Vernon, Pa., where he has goalposts in the yard of his family's home.

Last night, Fayak's backyard was the middle of Notre Dame Stadium, and there were over 59,000 angry neighbors yelling for him to miss his 34-yard field-goal attempt.

He didn't.

Fayak's kick with four seconds to play lifted the Nittany Lions to a 24-21 victory over the top-ranked Irish. He had missed an earlier attempt from 39 yards in the third quarter.

"I told my roommate back on campus that I had a funny feeling it was going to come down to me," said Fayak, whose most notable achievement before last night were three field goals in a 9-0 shutout of Alabama last month.

* Most Notre Dame players left their locker room without saying a word.

In fact, by the time the locker-room doors were opened, only tailback Ricky Watters was left.

"I got nothing to say," Watters began as he got dressed. "The only thing I can say is that we shouldn't have lost.

* For those who follow Penn State, yesterday's offensive performance was a surprise. It also surprised the Nittany Lion players.

"It was a lot of fun to play that way," said wide-out Terry Smith, who caught a touchdown pass after Tony Sacca faked a flanker reverse to David Daniels. "I'm going to go back and talk to Joe [Paterno] to see if we can keep it in the game plan."

* One of the more conspicuous visitors to the press box was Baltimore Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, who was wearing a Notre Dame cap. Hemond attended the game with Orioles advance scout Ed Farmer, a big Irish fan.

Hemond, who gave a talk to the Notre Dame baseball team yesterday morning, said he didn't have to answer a single question about Mickey Tettleton. "Not yet," Hemond said with R RTC smile.

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