Holtz’ Return Inspires Notre Dame As Irish Maul Longhorns, 55-27

Sports Editor
The Observer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In the ever-shocking world of college football, Notre Dame players can always hang their hat on one thing. They have a coach that lives and breathes blue and gold.

Less than two weeks after going through major cervical spine surgery, Irish coach Lou Holtz made his triumphant return to Notre Dame Stadium. He watched from the press box and even a little from the sidelines as Notre Dame thrashed No. 13 Texas, 55-27.

But Holtz didn’t just sit and watch the game with some famous Notre Dame hot dogs.

“I can be accused of calling plays,” he said. “You have a different perspective from the press box. It’s great up there.”

But as much as he enjoyed it, he had to test the waters out on the field. He found them to be not quite as smooth as he would have liked.

“There’s too much going on on the field,” the coach said. “It’s a little too hectic. I got nervous when (5-foot-8, 160-pound) Scott Sollmann bumped me. And when that happens, you know you’re in trouble.”

The plan now is to have Holtz in the press box for next week’s clash with Ohio State. But no matter where he sits, it’s certain he’ll make sure people know he’s there.

“It’s kind of hard ever not to feel his presence,” receiver Derrick Mayes said. “He’s everywhere, even when he’s not in sight. Out of sight but definitely in mind.”

Holtz was in defensive coordinator Bob Davie’s and offensive coordinator Dave Roberts’ minds via headsets.

“I have a switch that enables me to talk to either one,” he said. “The great thing is I can turn them off but they can’t turn me off.”

Calling quarterback Ron Powlus on an option in the fourth quarter was his doing, as was limiting the offensive scheme near the end of the game.

“Once they took the lead we just went back to one formation,” Holtz said. “We just played Notre Dame football.”

It was too much for the Longhorns, whose defense gave up 511 yards to the Irish offense. The 28 fourth-quarter points was the statistic that broke their back, however.

“Some time there in the fourth quarter, they kind of gave way, I guess,” said fullback Marc Edwards, who finished with three touchdowns Saturday. “We were just grinding it out, playing tough football and eventually broke their back.”

Edwards’ balancing act that turned into a 27-yard scoring run slammed the door in the Longhorns’ face with just under two minutes to play. Cornerback Allen Rossum’s interception return for a touchdown made the game look out of hand and demoralizing for Texas.

“We played hard for a long time,” Longhorns coach John Mackovic said. “Then we had to gamble. They tacked on those touchdowns at the end to make it seem more wide open than it was.”Notre Dame jumped out to a 10-0 lead after a 64-yard Emmett Mosley punt return for a touchdown. It was the first since Jeff Burris did it against Pittsburgh on October 9, 1993.

Rossum also scored two points off an extra point attempt that was blocked by nose tackle Paul Grasmanis. It made a seven play, 73-yard drive capped by a 15-yard Brown-to-Pat Fitzgerald pass seem like an afterthought. At the time, it gave Notre Dame a 19-13 lead, which held until halftime.

Texas temporarily took the lead back at 20-19 lead in the third quarter when quarterback James Brown hit tight end Steve Bradley on a fourth-and-goal situation. Longhorns tight end accounted for three of their four touchdowns for the day.

But their big gun, wide receiver Mike Adams, did not catch a pass in the second half after grabbing five for 141 yards in the first two quarters.

“We did double team Adams a little bit in the second half,” Holtz said. “But they did a good job of getting the big plays in the first half.”

The Irish answered with some big plays of their own. A LaRon Moore interception set up a quick Irish strike, highlighted by a 53-yard pass completion from Powlus to Mayes, who made the catch in double coverage.

Two plays later, Randy Kinder scored on a three-yard run and Edwards did his impression of a bowling ball for the two-point conversion, rolling over Texas linebacker Kyle Richardson and into the end zone.

Kinder finished with 129 yards rushing on 29 carries. Powlus was 16-of-28 for 273 yards and two touchdowns.

The Irish defense finished with three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and five sacks.”Our defense is full of playmakers,” said outside linebacker John McLaughlin, who had a sack and one tackle for a 20-yard loss. “We’ve been swarming to the ball and getting after it. With people flying around like that, it intimidates people.”

A two-yard Edwards touchdown run with 10 minutes remaining gave the Irish a 34-20 lead and proved to be the winning score.

Game Statistics

At: Notre Dame StadiumDate:  September 23, 1995Attendance:  59,075Texas (13)             7  6  7  7 - 27Notre Dame (21)       10  9  8 28 - 55ND--FG Kopka 27 ND--Mosley 64 punt return (Kopka kick) TEX--Fitzgerald 1 pass from J. Brown(Dawson kick) ND--Mayes 11 pass from Powlus (Kopka kick) TEX--Fitzgerald 15 pass from J. Brown(kick failed) ND--A. Rossum two-point defensive conversion TEX--S. Bradley 1 pass from J. Brown(Dawson kick) ND--Kinder 3 run (Edwards run) ND--Edwards 3 run (Kopka kick) ND--Edwards 12 pass from Powlus (Kopka kick) TEX--Fitzgerald 19 pass from J. Brown(Dawson kick) ND--Edwards 27 run (Kopka kick) ND--A. Rossum 29 interception return(Kopka kick)                          TEX          NDFirst downs               23          28Rushes-yards           37-87      54-238Passing yards            335         273Sacked-yards lost       5-50         1-5Return yards             118         134Comp.-Att.-Int.      20-37-3     16-28-1Punts                 4-34.3      4-36.8Fumbles-lost             3-2         2-0Penalties-yards         8-60       10-85Time of possession     26:13       33:47RUSHING:Texas-Ri. Williams 14-72, Mitchell 9-67, R. Walton 1-minus 3, J. Brown 12-minus 14, Team 1-minus 35.Notre Dame-Kinder 29-129, A. Denson 10-61, Edwards 8-44, C. Stokes 1-4, Powlus 6-0. PASSING:Texas-J. Brown 19-33-2-326, R. Walton 1-4-1-9.Notre Dame-Powlus 16-28-1-273. RECEIVING:Texas-M. Adams 5-141, McGarity 5-75, Fitzgerald 4-42, Q. Wallace 2-32, McLemore 1-24, M. Davis 1-11, White 1-9, S. Bradley 1-1.Notre Dame-Mayes 6-146, Edwards 6-72, Kinder 3-35, Mosley 1-20.