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Original Issue


Last spring Tony Driver (above), then a freshman, was shocked
when coach Bob Davie asked him to switch from tailback to free
safety. He reluctantly accepted, but after the Fighting Irish
lost to Michigan State 45-23 on Sept. 12, Driver--upset and
confused about his new role--went home to Louisville to evaluate
his future. He returned to Notre Dame shortly thereafter and
last Saturday helped the Irish beat Purdue 31-30 with two
interceptions of passes by Boilermakers quarterback Drew Brees
in the final two minutes. The first set up Notre Dame's winning
field goal, and the second sealed the win. Here is Driver's
account of his two picks.

Time was running out. Purdue had the ball on its 17-yard line,
and we knew we had to come up with a big play. The cornerbacks
were in man-to-man coverage, and the safeties were in an
aggressive zone. When the ball was snapped, I surveyed the field
and started backpedaling. I tried not to concentrate on Brees
because he looks off the receivers a lot. I saw a guy running a
slant over the middle; I was behind him and headed toward the
middle too. As I was running, I saw that the ball was
overthrown, and before I could think, it was in my hands.

The first thing I thought was that I hadn't been in the end zone
in a long time. I felt like a running back again; I put my head
down and tried to run as hard as I could. It felt great to set
up the go-ahead field goal because I was having a subpar game to
that point.

I knew I couldn't get too excited, because Purdue was getting
the ball back with a little over a minute left, and Brees is a
great quarterback. We were very focused during that last series,
and, to tell you the truth, I don't remember how I got the
second interception, with 37 seconds left. All I remember is
catching the ball and thinking, Get to the sideline. I wrapped
both hands around the ball and got there as fast as I could.

When I left school earlier this season, I wasn't sure if I was
going to come back. While I was home, I prayed to God and asked
him to show me a sign. Before the game I hadn't intercepted a
pass, but just like that, I got two. I guess he wants me to stay
at Notre Dame.

COLOR PHOTO: JOE RAYMOND/AP [Tony Driver running with football in game]