Stanford 33, Notre Dame 15
October 4, 1997 – Stanford Stadium
by Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune
PALO ALTO, Calif. – There was a time, not too long ago, when Notre Dame used to win football games the way Stanford won this one.
Stay close in the first half, make adjustments at intermission and let superior talent and physical ability take over in the second half.
Stanford’s 33-15 demolition of the Irish was the fourth straight bout with failure Notre Dame (1-4) has had to endure.
The Irish third-quarter offensive scoring drought was extended to five games. The scoreless 15 minutes allowed Stanford to take command of the game with a long scoring drive and wear down the Irish defense.
“The disappointing thing to me is the way we came out and played in the third quarter,” Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said. “We put so much emphasis on it during the week, and it didn’t help.”
The Irish offense showed signs of life in the first half. Tailback Autry Denson collected 106 yards on 15 carries in the first 30 minutes while a missed PAT separated the two teams, 10-9.
Denson, however, was shut down cold in the second half. He carried the ball just three times for negative-one yard in the third quarter and finished the game with 116 yards on 25 rushes.
“We were pretty successful on the ground in the first half,” Irish quarterback Ron Powlus said. “They ganged up on the run a little bit (in the second half). You certainly have to realize, coming out in the second half, (Stanford) isn’t going to sit back and play the same stuff. You have to be ready to make adjustments.”
“At halftime, we knew they had a back over 100 yards,” Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham said. “We knew we could not allow them to run the football. If we could force them into a passing game, we felt we had a better chance.”
While the Notre Dame offense stubbornly refused to deviate from its approach – the only significant play was a 25-yard pass from Powlus to Bobby Brown in a drive that ended in a partially-blocked field goal – the Cardinal wore down the Irish offense with an 87-yard, 17-play drive that lasted more than seven minutes and resulted in a three-yard touchdown run by Mike Mitchell. That gave Stanford a 17-9 lead.
Mitchell, who had 63 rushing yards at halftime, and Anthony Bookman, who rushed for 18 in the first half, ran wild in the second half. With former Notre Dame assistant Earle Mosley now giving them direction as Stanford’s running backs coach, the two became the second duo of backs in three weeks to rush for more than 100 yards apiece against the Irish.
Bookman finished with 142 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown sprint and another four-yard TD burst late, while Mitchell had 135 yards and a pair of TDs.
“It came down to a test of wills,” Mosley said. “I learned at Notre Dame that if you never flinch and believe you’re going to win, you will come out on top.”
The Irish spent most of the second half flinching. The long third-quarter drive wore down what was left of the Notre Dame defense and destroyed any sort of positive feelings the Irish might have had.
“The kids battled their hearts out early, then the dam just broke,” Irish defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. Stanford (4-1) had 211 yards worth of total offense in the first half and finished with 514.
“Our kids just got worn down and they started smashing the ball at us,” Mattison said. “We just can’t hold up against that.”
As collapses go, this one was quite complete. Bookman scored both his touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The only bright spot was the last Notre Dame scoring drive that included a 38-yard hookup between Powlus and Malcolm Johnson and a 27-yard scoring pass from Powlus to Bobby Brown. Both necessitated the receivers to make nifty runs after the reception, something Irish receivers haven’t done much of this season, either.
But Stanford’s power was too prevalent for Notre Dame to even threaten. The Cardinal put the finishing touches on when Kailee Wong tackled Powlus in the end zone for a safety with just over two minutes to play.
Jim Sanson gave the Irish a 3-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal with just under four minutes left in the first quarter. The Irish had a first down on the Cardinal 26, but a wrong-direction play by fullback Ken Barry lost four yards and a sack of Powlus lost eight. A 10-yard pass to Denson got Notre Dame within field goal range.
Stanford responded with seven points. The Cardinal traveled 61 yards in nine plays. Mitchell had a pair of 15-yard runs, the second ending in the end zone.
Notre Dame handed the ball to Denson on its final possession of the first half and let him carry the team on his shoulders. He ran seven times for 61 yards, including a 19-yard pickup on the only option call of the game, to set up an 11-yard TD pass from Powlus to freshman tight end Jabari Holloway. The pass play resembled the one that was intercepted against Michigan last week. After the TD, Sanson misfired on the PAT.
Stanford answered again just before intermission. The Cardinal moved 63 yards on 11 plays in 2:40 to set up Kevin Miller for a 37-yard field goal and a 10-9 Stanford advantage.
Notre Dame 3 6 0 6 – 15Stanford 7 3 7 16 – 33
ND: Jim SANSON 45 FG, 3:45 left. Drive: 68 yards, 15 plays, 7:40 elapsed after Stanford punt. Key play: Ron Powlus to Bobby Brown for 18 on 2nd and 7 from the ND 32. Score: Notre Dame 3, Stanford 0.
SU: Mike MITCHELL 15 run (Kevin MILLER PAT), 0:04 left. Drive: 61 yards, 9 plays, 3:41 elapsed after Notre Dame kickoff. Key play: Mitchell 5 run on 3rd and 2 from the ND 25. Score: Stanford 7, Notre Dame 3.
ND: Jabari HOLLOWAY 11 pass from POWLUS (SANSON kick failed), 2:58 left. Drive: 94 yards, 11 plays, 3:54 elapsed after Stanford punt. Key play: Denson 19 run on option pitch on 2nd and 2 from the SU 33. Score: Notre Dame 9, Stanford 7.
SU: MILLER 37 FG, 0:18 left. Drive: 63 yards, 11 plays, 2:40 elapsed after Notre Dame kickoff. Key play: Chad Hutchinson pass to DeRonnie Pitts for 15 on 3rd and 4 from the SU 23. Score: Stanford 10, Notre Dame 9.
SU: MITCHELL 3 run (MILLER PAT), 1:23 left. Drive: 87 yards, 17 plays, 7:11 elapsed after Notre Dame punt. Key play: Hutchinson to Troy Walters for 12 on 3rd and 11 from the ND 45. Score: Stanford 17, Notre Dame 9.
SU: Anthony BOOKMAN 58 run (MILLER PAT), 13:42 left. Drive: 73 yards, 2 plays, 0:31 elapsed after Notre Dame missed field goal. Key play: Bookman 15 run on 1st and 10 from the SU 27. Score: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 9.
ND: Bobby BROWN 27 pass from POWLUS (POWLUS pass failed), 10:57 left. Drive: 76 yards, 6 plays, 2:45 elapsed after Notre Dame kickoff. Key play: Powlus to Malcolm Johnson for 38 on 2nd and 3 from the ND 31. Score: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 15.
SU: BOOKMAN 4 run (MILLER PAT), 3:15 left. Drive: 74 yards, 16 plays, 7:42 elapsed after Notre Dame kickoff. Key play: Mitchell 5 run on 4th and 2 from the ND 30. Score: Stanford 31, Notre Dame 15.SU: Kailee WONG safety, tackles POWLUS in end zone. Score: Stanford 33, Notre Dame 15.
Attendance – 75,651
ND SUFirst Downs 18 34Rushing 8 18Passing 8 11Penalty 2 5Rushing Attempts 35 53Yards Rushing 155 330Yards Lost Rushing 34 8Net Yards Rushing 121 322Net Yards Passing 177 192Passes Attempted 21 38Passes Completed 13 26Had Intercepted 0 0Total Offensive Plays 56 91Total Net Yards 298 514Average Gain Per Play 5.3 5.6Fumbles: Number-Lost 1-1 1-0Penalties: Number-Yards 6-64 6-64Number of Punts-Yards 4-163 3-101Average Per Punt 40.8 33.7Punt Returns: Number-Yards 0-0 1-7Kickoff Returns: Number-Yards 5-70 5-114Interceptions: Number-Yards 0-0 0-0Fumble Returns: Number-Yards 0-0 0-0Possession Time 23:28 36:32Third Down Conversions 2-9 11-17Fourth Down Conversions 1-1 1-2Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-8 3-24
RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TD LGAutry Denson 21 118 2 116 0 19Tony Driver 5 20 1 19 0 7Jamie Spencer 2 12 0 12 0 11Ken Barry 2 4 5 -1 0 4Ron Powlus 5 1 26 -25 0 1
PASSING ATT COMP INT YDS TD LGRon Powlus 21 13 0 177 2 38
RECEIVING RECPT YARDS TD LGBobby Brown 5 88 1 27Malcolm Johnson 4 58 0 38Autry Denson 2 15 0 10Jabari Holloway 1 11 1 11Raki Nelson 1 5 0 5
PUNTING NUM YARDS AVG LGHunter Smith 4 163 40.8 54
RETURNS PR KO INTSA’Jani Sanders – 1-10 -Tony Driver – 4-60 –
RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TD LGAnthony Bookman 14 142 0 142 2 58Mike Mitchell 29 135 0 135 2 15Jon Ritchie 5 31 0 31 0 11Juan-Carlos Lacey 3 20 0 20 0 12Greg Comella 1 2 0 2 0 2Chad Hutchinson 1 0 8 -8 0 -8
PASSING ATT COMP INT YDS TD LGChad Hutchinson 38 26 0 192 0 17
RECEIVING RECPT YARDS TD LGTroy Walters 7 66 0 15Damon Dunn 5 41 0 15Mike Mitchell 5 37 0 17Anthony Bookman 4 11 0 7Greg Comella 2 11 0 7DeRonnie Pitts 1 15 0 15Jon Ritchie 1 6 0 6Tommy Hanson 1 5 0 5
PUNTING NUM YARDS AVG LGKevin Miller 3 101 33.7 41
RETURNS PR KO INTSTroy Walters 1-7 1-22 -Damon Dunn – 4-92 –