The Ohio State Buckeyes delivered an absolute heartbreaking dagger to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, scoring on the final play of the game to win 17-14 on Saturday night. The instant classic had plenty of thrilling moments, with the Irish seemingly on the verge of coming away with the win.
The Buckeyes had reached the Notre Dame one after a catch by wideout Emeka Egbuka with less than 20 seconds left. After two incompletions, fullback Chip Trayanum bulled his way into the end zone and left Irish fans everywhere devastated and giving the Irish their first loss of the season
Below are some of the other key aspects of the crushing defeat:
Missing Out Early
Both teams had golden opportunities to make the first dent in the scoreboard, only to come up empty. For Notre Dame, their first drive took more than eight minutes and lasted for 14 plays but died just inside the Ohio State Red Zone. Sam Hartman’s fourth-down attempt to get a first down was stopped and the Irish’s second drive was then ended with a missed field goal by Spencer Shrader.
On their opening drive, Ohio State also saw its chances of taking control early stopped, The Buckeyes got just past midfield, gaining 30 yards on their first five plays before an incomplete pass was then followed by a false start that killed the momentum. In the second quarter, a 13-play drive was stopped on a goal-line stand by Notre Dame.
Ohio State’s final drive of the first half resulted in the first score of the game, a 31-yard field goal by Jayden Fielding. Yet, two passes that were caught by the Buckeyes ultimately resulted in different calls and wiped out what was thought to be a touchdown pass to Egbuka.
In the first instance, Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison managed to hold onto the ball with a circus catch at the Notre Dame 34. Instead, Benjamin Morrison was called for pass interference and the ball was placed at the Irish 48. Egbuka’s two subsequent catches got the ball to the Notre Dame 15, but his diving grab in the back of the end zone on the next play was ruled an incompletion.
An Earlier Gut Punch
A dramatic change in just a matter of moments early in the third quarter delivered another painful jolt to Notre Dame. The Irish got the ball to open the third quarter and after just four plays were in Ohio State territory. A seven-yard run by Jeremiyah Price then got them within another first down but things then quickly faded.
Two one-yard gains by Audric Estime were then followed by a fourth-down effort from Sam Hartman that gained nothing and gave the ball to the Buckeyes at their own 39. They needed just one play to score, a 61-yard scoring dash by TreVeyeon Henderson. Those whiplash moments turned a possible tie or lead for Notre Dame into a 10-point deficit.
The last-second loss put a damper on an otherwise great night for the Irish defense, which gave up only 17 points to Ohio State’s potent offense. That unit gained only 366 yards on the night, with one-sixth of that amount coming on the final drive. With the exception of the 61-yard scoring run by Henderson, the Buckeye running game was limited to 65 yards on 26 carries.
The two major highlights on the night were the pair of major stops Notre Dame defenders delivered. The first, which was noted above, came on consecutive plays from the one-yard line and kept the game scoreless. The latter instance came with less than five minutes remaining when a wide receiver sweep by Egbuka was stopped by multiple Irish players.
Emerging From the Shadows
The score by Trayanum capped a night that saw multiple under-the-radar players perform key roles. Trayanum finished with just 13 yards on six carries but got the one yard the Buckeyes needed. In addition, the dynamic receiving duo of Harrison and Egbuka were overshadowed somewhat by the contributions of fellow wideout Cade Stover, who had seven catches for 52 yards.
For Notre Dame, the seeming focus on stopping Audric Estime required players like Jeremiyah Love and Gi’Bran Payne to step up, which they both did. Love had eight carries for 57 yards while Payne tallied the first Irish touchdown and finished with 18 yards on six carries. On the receiving front, Mitchell Evans returned from concussion protocol and caught six passes for 70 yards, including a number of clutch grabs.
Notre Dame now travels to North Carolina for the second time this season to take on the undefeated and Top 25 Duke Blue Devils. On Saturday, Duke allowed Connecticut 27 yards in the first half and just 203 yards for the game to win in a 41-7 romp. The Blue Devils already have pulled off a huge upset at home this year, defeating Clemson on Sept. 4 and no doubt will be seeking a repeat performance on Saturday night.