Irish win physical, penalty-filled game
By LaMond Pope 713-2691 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2013 6:16PM
Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson, top, goes over Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes for the ball in the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Waynes was called for pass interference on the play. Notre Dame won 17-13. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) ORG XMIT: INMC115
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Updated: September 21, 2013 11:30PM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees lofted a pass in Corey Robinson’s direction down the right side near the front corner of the end zone.
Robinson tried to out-jump Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, but he couldn’t come down with a ball. And then came a flag.
Waynes was called for pass interference, the second time the Spartans were hit with the penalty in perhaps the most important drive of Saturday’s game. The infraction, which took place on the first play of the fourth quarter of a tied game, placed the ball at Michigan State’s 7. Two plays later, Cam McDaniel scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 7-yard run and No. 22 Irish held on for a 17-13 victory on a flag-filled Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
“We knew it was going to be tough and physical,” Rees said. “If we could have thought about it, we probably want to hit some of those deep balls early. For us, finding a way to win, we’re comfortable grinding games out like that.
“A win’s a win. It’s hard to win games at this level, especially against a good opponent like that.”
The physical nature included several penalties. Michigan State (3-1) had 10 penalties for 115 yards. Notre Dame (3-1) had eight penalties for 86 yards. The Spartans were flagged for four pass interference calls.
“We did what we had to do, in terms of defensively, I felt we played the ball the way we teach them to play the ball. That’s how they played the ball,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the intent wasn’t to draw penalties.
“We want to complete (passes),” Kelly said. “We were getting pulled and tugged.”
It wasn’t just pass interference calls that made a difference.
The game was tied at 10 late in the third quarter, but Michigan State was on the move. The Spartans then tried a trick play, with wide receiver R.J. Shelton attempting a pass. Matthias Farley picked it off. The Spartans were also called for a personal foul penalty at the end of the play, giving the Irish the ball at the Michigan State’s 37.
“Any time you pick off a pass, it’s a definite momentum builder for your football team,” Kelly said.
The interception — and two pass interference calls — set up McDaniel’s 7-yard run.
“We have an extremely smart quarterback that knows how to get us in good plays and good situations. He made a critical check and we were able to pin the edge, got fantastic edge blocking. All I had to do was run through the hole that was there. My job was pretty easy,” McDaniel said.
Michigan State got within four, but a late drive fizzled.
“We knew it was going to be this kind of football game,” Kelly said. “Somebody was going to have to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter. We were able to get the touchdown and hold them from scoring one.”