Experience, Not Luck, Was On the Side of the Irish

Sports Writer

Lyron Cobbins proved he “had been there before” with his clutch interception.

The “Luck of the Irish” will undoubtedly dominate the discussions of Texas fans as they look back on this weekend’s game in Austin. But how much luck was really involved in this heart-stopping 27-24 victory over the Texas Longhorns?

For a while, it seemed the only luck the Irish had was bad. Starting late in the third quarter, the sun began to shine (literally) on the burnt orange and white, as they could do no wrong. Bryant Westbrook laid a bonecrushing hit on Irish tailback Randy Kinder. At that point, it seemed that all but a couple of the record-setting 83,312 fans set off in a mad frenzy over the ‘Horns. They tightened down on the Irish rushing attack. They drove down the field with ease and took a 24-17 lead with 10:53 remaining in the game.

Nothing the Irish tried would work.

However, something stood out to those few Longhorn fans that weren’t jumping on top of each other trying to get their faces plastered on the ‘Sony Jumbotron.’

A friend, a former UT football player, said to me, “They (the Irish) really don’t look worried. It’s almost like they’ve been here before.” Anyone who follows this storied football program knows that, indeed, they have been here before. This was simply another in a long line of big games. The atmosphere was as hostile as any in which the Irish had ever played, but they had been here before.

And with a stroke of what some might call luck, the game suddenly turned in favor of the visiting Irish. Lyron Cobbins intercepted a James Brown pass, and just like that, the Irish were back in the game. They had taken shot after shot from the Longhorns, and were seemingly beaten down.

But all at once, the Irish came out swinging, like a man who had been backed into a corner. Despite what Texas fans thought, the game was not over. The seven-point lead was not an insurmountable one. The Irish had been here before.

Just as he had to do two weeks ago against Vanderbilt, Ron Powlus was in a position to show whether he could perform the type of miraculous comeback associated with the number he wears. And, despite the pressure-cooker circumstances, do it he did. Powlus and Co. put together two clutch drives to seal the victory.

They had been here before.

The defense was forced one last time to come up with another momentous stand. Riding the wave of emotion of Cobbins’ interception and the ensuing score, they did exactly what they had to do: they stopped the potent Texas attack dead in their tracks.

They had been here before.

Last, and certainly not least, was the game-winning kick of freshman Jim Sanson. With ice in his veins, the freshman performed in the same clutch manner of predecessors Jim Carney, Reggie Ho, and Kevin Pendergast. They had been here before.

The Irish may not have played a flawless game. In fact, they may have needed, and received, a little help from other sources. Nonetheless, on the home turf of another one of the nation’s legendary programs, they proved to the college football world that they are indeed for real. Luck of the Irish? Maybe, but they did what they had to do to win the big game. As this historical game reached its climactic ending, it was obvious that these guys in Blue and Gold had been here before.