|Irish celebrate win by singing fight song twice|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 07 October 2007 13:22|
``We sung it twice,'' linebacker Maurice Crum Jr. said after the Irish beat UCLA 20-6 Saturday night. ``It's been a long time.''
It's been 10 months and 18 days, to be exact, since Notre Dame's last victory, a 41-9 win over Army.
In that span of 322 days, the Irish went from being ranked No. 6 and hoping to win a national championship to a laughingstock that lost seven straight, the second longest losing streak in school history.
In each of those seven losses, the Irish (1-5) gave up at least 30 points. And in the last six losses they had failed to score at least 20.
All those streaks ended Saturday night.
``I never felt like I would be as satisfied with one win,'' tight end John Carlson said afterward.
Notre Dame didn't solve all its problems with the victory. The Irish couldn't run the ball, and its passing game wasn't much better. They again drew an untimely unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. None of it mattered, though, immediately after the game.
``This is a big turnaround. This is a payoff. This is why we work hard. This is why everybody never quits for this moment right here,'' said Crum, who had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a sack and seven tackles.
About the only thing Crum did wrong was trip running untouched during an interception return at the UCLA 29-yard line in the fourth quarter with a line of blockers in front of him.
Asked why he fell, Crum said, ``Clumsy.''
It was one of seven turnovers forced by the Irish that led to 17 points. Possibly just as important, the Notre Dame defense knocked UCLA quarterback Ben Olson out of the game with a knee injury late in the first quarter - forcing the Bruins to turn to walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Bethel-Thompson threw four interceptions and had a fumble. The Bruins still managed to compile 282 yards, but were shutout in the second half.
The Irish finished with just 140 yards total offense - their fewest yards in a victory in at least 25 years.
``At halftime, we knew we were going to play a conservative game,'' coach Charlie Weis said. ``We were going to play a field position game. We were just going to play conservatively and make plays, and when you cause six or seven turnovers, we obviously made the plays.''
Jimmy Clausen, who won 42 straight starts at nearby Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif., won his 43rd straight start in the state of California. He was 17-of-27 passing for 84 yards with no interceptions.
``He managed the team and did what we asked him to do,'' Weis said. ``He's a freshman and this is the first time as a starting QB that he's won, so he's as happy as anyone right now.''
The Irish are all quite happy to have put the worst start in the school's history behind them. They now start a stretch of five straight home games, starting with No. 4 Boston College on Saturday and No. 10 USC on Oct. 20.