Spartans Beat Notre Dame with Overtime Trickery

New coach, same outcome.  Three games into the Brian Kelly era, Notre Dame football is still reeling.  For the second consecutive week, the Irish experienced a last minute defeat to another team from Michigan.  Last week Denard Robinson brought his one-man show to South Bend and knocked off the Irish in the closing minutes of the game.  This week the Irish traveled to East Lansing, and Michigan State won the game on a fake field goal in overtime.

The first half of the game was filled with mistakes on offense, as interceptions brought scoring drives to a halt for both teams.  Notre Dame kicked off the scoring when quarterback Dayne Crist  hit Michael Floyd with a 7-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins then threw an interception in the end zone to kill a Spartan scoring opportunity.  Notre Dame marched down the field and looked to be poised to take control of the game.  Crist looked to Floyd once again, but after making the catch, the receiver fumbled the ball on the Michigan State 11-yardline and the Spartans recovered to end the drive. 

After forcing a punt, the Irish offense took the field once again and Crist promptly threw an interception.  The Spartan offense took the field with a vengeance, and moved the ball 94-yards in just seven plays to tie the score at 7-7 going into the half.

With just over 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame held a 28-21 lead after Crist once again found Floyd for the combo’s second touchdown connection of the day.  The lead was short lived as Cousins marched Michigan State down the field and found B.J. Cunningham with a 24-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 28 with fewer than 8 minutes to play.

The quarter played out with neither team putting more points on the board.  After kicking a field goal in the overtime period, the game was left in the hands of the Notre Dame defense.  The Irish defense stopped the Spartans from moving the ball and looked to force a field goal attempt that would, at best would, allow Michigan State to extend the game.  What ended up happening was heartbreaking to Notre Dame players and fans.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio went for it all.  With a young kicker and a long field attempt staring him in the face, Dantonio opted to call “Little Giants” the fake field attempt the Spartans put into the playbook on Wednesday.  The Spartans snapped the ball, holder Aaron Bates took the snap, stood up from his position as holder, and waited until Charlie Gantt was open downfield.  Gantt worked his way behind the defense and Bates threw to him for a touchdown, sparking a celebration and victory for the home team.

The three-point loss puts Notre Dame’s record since last November at 1-6, with each of the losses coming by less than a touchdown.

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