What Unholy thoughts must have occupied the minds of the players on Notre Dame's field goal defense unit upon seeing kicker David Gordon line up for a 33-yard attempt with Boston College trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter last Saturday in the Eagles' Alumni Stadium?
That pipsqueak stole our national title?
It's not roughing the kicker if you black the kick?
Watch out for the fake?
"We knew they were dying to block it after last year," said Boston College sophomore Matt Hasselbeck, who, in his only collegiate play so far, lined up as Gordon's holder, then ran eight yards for a first down, providing the leap of faith that fueled BC's 30-11 thrashing of the Irish.
"Football's a game of momentum," said Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz. "The momentum stayed one way after that."
Unlike last November's wild game in South Bend—which ended up 41-39 on a 41-yard Gordon boot as time expired, an outcome that toppled the Irish from their No. 1 ranking—Holy War '94 will not be remembered for one play. Though the fake field goal (code-named Leprechaun) led to a touchdown one play later, the fake simply served notice that on this day the Eagles were the better team. "What gets assumed is that when somebody puts on an ND uniform, he's a better football player," said BC offensive tackle Pete Kendall. "That's not necessarily the case."
It had been the case for almost three years—at least when the Irish uniform was white. Since a 35-13 loss at Penn State in November 1991, Notre Dame had won 16 straight games on the road. And not since 1987 again in Happy Valley, had the Irish lost an away game to an unranked team. "Louie is Zeus, and Notre Dame is a mythological giant," said Eagle coach Dan Henning before Saturday's game, but his players were having none of it. "We knew if we could do our jobs, we'd drop the hammer on them," said junior defensive end Mike Mamula.
Still, early in the fourth quarter the Eagles were ahead 24-3 and, thus, right where Notre Dame wanted them. BC had entered the final period last year with a 21-point lead and squandered that. This time when Irish tailback Randy Kinder scored on a 15-yard run and quarterback Ron Powlus hooked up with Derrick Mayes for the two-point conversion, narrowing the Eagle lead to 24-11, 11:59 remained. "Were we worried?" asked BC linebacker Stephen Boyd. "Not with this defense." Especially not with Mamula, who sacked Powlus twice and spearheaded a front seven that hounded him into a 5-for-21, two-interception performance.
BC's win further heated up a rivalry that is as amicable as it is fervent, witness the public-address announcement in the game's waning moments. It was an invitation unlike any other to be heard in Division I-A: "There will be a Mass after the game in Gasson Hall at four o'clock...followed by cocktails at 5:45."
Justice Smith, who rushed for 147 yards, and the rest of the Eagles left Notre Dame grabbing at air.