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Sanson, Irish Have Faith in 27-24 Victory Over Longhorns
By Tim Sherman
AUSTIN, Texas — The crowd was on the side of Texas, but the faith was on the side of Notre Dame.
So too was victory.
Freshman place-kicker Jim Sanson booted a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish a thrilling 27-24 win over the sixth-ranked Longhorns.
“I had faith in God,” Sanson said. “I wanted the ball. All I wanted was a chance.”
It was the Notre Dame defense that gave him that chance.
After the Irish tied the game at 24 on a six-yard run by Autry Denson, the Longhorns took over at the Notre Dame 20-yard line with just less than three minutes remaining.
After picking up a quick first down, the host Longhorns offense stalled. With the Longhorns facing 3rd-and-4 with 1:09 remaining, Irish inside linebacker Lyron Cobbins broke up a James Brown pass, forcing a Texas punt.
“Leaders make plays,” Irish defensive end Melvin Dansby said. “Lyron’s a leader and leaders make plays.”
And love him or hate him, Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus is becoming such a leader. And he also made the plays that counted.
After a shanked 21-yard Mark Schultes punt, Powlus and the Irish took over at their own 43 for the final drive of the day.
A 22-yard Denson delay brought the Irish into enemy territory and two plays later, Powlus hit Malcolm Johnson on a tight 11-yard curl to set up Sanson’s winning kick.
“It was a great throw and a great catch,” said Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, who won for the first time in four tries at Memorial Stadium.
“the game was well-played on both sides and I’ve never seen a game go back and forth like that one,” he said.
The game started in Texas’ favor as the Longhorns drove 80 yards in 11 plays and capped the drive with a three-yard Mike Adams touchdown reception.
Notre Dame’s first drive was helped by a questionable late-hit call on Tyson King, and the Irish took the ball all the way to the Longhorns’ one. From there, Sanson got the Irish on the board with his first field goal.
Texas lengthened its lead to 14-3 on a three-yard Priest Holmes touchdown leap early in the second quarter, but the Irish running game owned the latter part of the first half.
Notre Dame cut the Texas lead to 14-10 on an 18-yard option sprint by Robert Farmer.
“What the option does is that it allows us to make some big plays,” Holtz explained.
One of those plays came from Denson with time dwindling in the half. The sophomore streaked 26 yards through the Longhorns defense, setting up a three-yard Marc Edwards touchdown catch.
The only scoring in a lackluster third quarter was a 47-yard field goal by Texas kicker Phil Dawson that tied the score at 17. Then the fun began.
After stopping a Notre Dame drive and forcing a punt, the Longhorns running game, which had just 63 yards through the first three quarters, kicked into high gear.
Three Ricky Williams carries for 41 yards were sandwiched around a 16-yard burst by Shon Mitchell. Williams put the Longhorns ahead with a one-yard run at the 10:53 mark.
Just like in their opening win against Vanderbilt, the Irish trailed in the fourth quarter. And just like against the Commodores, they responded.
After a failed fake punt, Cobbins turned the game around with an interception of a tipped James Brown pass at the Texas 35.
“It seems like Lyron makes an interception every game,” Holtz said.
After the interception, the Irish took eight plays to tie the game.
“That was the most critical drive that we have had in a couple of years,” Holtz said.
An illegal procedure call took the Irish from the one-yard line to the six before Denson danced into the end zone on 4th-and-goal.
“The fullback went the wrong way,” Holtz said. “But Autry made a great effort.”
It was an effort topped only by Sanson.
“I’ve dreamed about this happening,” Sanson said. “I didn’t think it would, but it did.”
(9) NOTRE DAME 3 14 0 10 -- 27(6) TEXAS 7 7 3 7 -- 241st QuarterTX--TD, Mike Adams 3-yd pass from James Brown (Phil Dawson kick), 3:36ND--FG, Jim Sanson 20 yds, 9:332nd QuarterTX--Priest Holmes 3-yd run (Phil Dawson kick), 6:30ND--TD, Robert Farmer 18-yd run (Jim Sanson kick), 10:52ND--TD, Marc Edwards 3-yd pass from Ron Powlus (Jim Sanson kick), 14:333rd QuarterTX--FG, Phil Dawson 47 yds, 6:514th QuarterTX--TD, Ricky Williams 1-yd run (Phil Dawson kick)ND--TD, Autry Denson 6-yd run (Jim Sanson kick)ND--FG, Jim Sanson 39 yds, 15:00 Notre Dame Texas First downs 27 21 Rushed-yards 54-292 35-134 Passing yards 127 178 Sacked-yards lost 1-7 2-21 Return yards 1 13 Passes 13-25-0 14-30-1 Punts 5-37.6 5-42.4 Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0 Penalties-yards 8-76 10-71 Time of possession 34:00 26:00 Individual Statistics RUSHING: Notre Dame-Denson 24-158, Edwards 14-61, Kinder 8-51, Farmer 2-20, Powlus 6-2. Texas-R Williams 17-107, Mitchell 10-50, P Holmes 3-2, J Brown 5-minus 25.PASSING: Notre Dame-Powlus 13-24-0-127, H Smith 0-1-0-0.Texas-J Brown 14-30-1-178.RECEIVING: Notre Dame-Mosley 3-41, Chryplewicz 3-27, M Johnson 3-24, Edwards 3-22, Nelson 1-13. Texas-M Adams 6-76, Jackson 3-42, Fitzgerald 3-33, Lewis 1-14, R Williams 1-13.Att: 83,312