Rally falls short, leaving Notre Dame fit to be tied Irish fans jeer 17-17 result vs. Michigan

September 13, 1992|By Mark Blaudshun | Mark Blaudshun,Boston Globe

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It was the best of ties. It was the wors of ties. And for Michigan and Notre Dame, which had hoped for more and received less, it was the first of ties.

What looked like another fantastic finish between the third-ranked Irish and the seventh-ranked Wolverines deflated in eerie silence and a brief burst of boos at Notre Dame Stadium with yesterday's 17-17 non-decision, the first tie in the 24-game history of this series.

"A tie's better than a loss," said Michigan coach Gary Moeller, who watched his team squander a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter. "But damn, I wanted to win this game. I'm not happy."

Nor was Irish coach Lou Holtz satisfied with a game that left his team with a 1-0-1 record.

"It leaves me with a very, very empty feeling," said Holtz, who drew the ire of the sellout crowd of 59,075 by calling two running plays in the final minute of the game when the Irish had their last chance to win. "I don't know how you are supposed to feel after a tie."

Not since the infamous 10-10 game against Michigan State in 1966 had any Irish team come away with so little satisfaction after avoiding a loss.

After taking a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a 20-yard highlight film run by tailback Reggie Brooks, the Irish kept hitting the self-destruct button on offense.

They fumbled away three scoring opportunities and, despite gaining 398 yards in total offense, found themselves trailing by 10 with 14:19 left in the game.

Michigan, which was playing its season opener, did enough things right to feel it had a good chance to beat the Irish for the second consecutive season.

Quarterback Elvis Grbac threw his second touchdown pass and Peter Elezovic booted a 28-yard field goal as the Wolverines broke loose from a 7-7 halftime tie.

"We should have won the game," said Grbac, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 242 yards but also threw three interceptions. "It hurts."

The game started to unravel on the Wolverines shortly after Grbac hit Derrick Alexander on a 30-yard play-action pass with 14:54 left to give Michigan a 17-7 lead.

Irish quarterback Rick Mirer, who has not put any Heisman numbers on the board in two games, moved his team smoothly and quickly into the end zone, receiving a tremendous break when a controversial pass interference call prolonged the drive and set up a first-and-goal on the Michigan 2. When Jerome Bettis scored, the Irish were only a field goal from getting even.

Grbac's second interception of the day, picked off by linebacker Brian Ratigan at the Michigan 20, set up Craig Hentrich's 32-yard field goal with 5:28 left.

Michigan had the first opportunity to break the tie when it reached the Notre Dame 30 before Grbac made his final mistake of the day by rushing a pass that was intercepted by Jeff Burris at the Notre Dame 12.

With 1:05 to play and one timeout remaining, the Irish had one final chance to wake up the echoes.

But a draw play by Bettis and another run by Brooks brought thunder in the form of boos. Holtz defended the strategy by saying he was trying to see what kind of defensive coverage Michigan was in. "I thought we would spring it loose and we almost did," Holtz said.

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