West Virginia Throws in the Towel, Literally

Bob Davie thought he was seeing things. Was Nick Setta's fourth quarter field goal attempt actually deflected by a towel, some 20 feet in the air? The Mountaineers had good aim, but bad luck as Setta's kick went through. IrishEyes has the details in a game notebook filed by contributor Tim Casey.

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October 13, 2001

West Virginia Throws
In Towel….Literally

By Tim Casey
For The IrishEyes.Com News Service

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) – Yes, that was a towel flying in the air on Nick Setta's fourth quarter field goal attempt.

When Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie noticed it, he almost lost it. A possession later, when Shane Walton was whistled for pass interference when he appeared to be playing the ball, Davie was more animated in his disagreement with a zebra than any time in recent memory.

"I thought I saw something today that I've never seen in college football," Davie said. "I shouldn't comment on it until I see the replay but I swear there was a towel that hit that ball on that field goal. Anybody see that? That's an amazing thing to me. Some of the calls, I'm not gonna….There's some amazing things that happened in that football game."

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After gaining 69 yards in the first half, Julius Jones stood on the sidelines for most of the second half, with a towel wrapped around his head. According to Davie, Jones was "nicked up a little bit" and during the third quarter, Notre Dame officials said Jones had suffered a slight concussion. But then, late in the fourth quarter, he ran on the field to return a punt. On the final possession of the game, he carried six straight times.

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For his fourth quarter interception, senior Justin Smith was awarded his first-ever game ball. He returned to school this year after graduating in May with a computer engineering degree. Thus far in his career, he has never started a game.

So what did Smith have to tell his teammates following the game?

"Being a fifth year, sometimes you reflect on how life goes by so fast," Smith said. I told everybody, ‘You get only opportunity. Make it count'."

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Carlyle Holiday has been criticized for scrambling away from pressure, instead of staying in the pocket and being patient. However, he was more accurate, completing 7-of-14 passes for 70 yards and still made crucial running plays.

"There were times when there were guys open that we didn't pass the ball," offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers said. "As limited as our passing game is, there are still some pretty complex things that that kid has to know in order to throw that pass, in terms of the protection and blitz checks and all those types of things."

Said Holiday: "There were a couple times where I panicked a little bit but for the most part I dropped back and looked for my reads and try to make the play."

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Tony Fisher was limited in his practice time this week after suffering a right hamstring injury against Pittsburgh. He didn't even know if he would play today. "I had to convince [the coaches] to let me play," he said.

Despite rushing for 119 yards on 22 carries, he had another injury. This time, he sprained his left hamstring.

"It's crazy," Fisher said. "My legs are just compensating for everything that's going on with them. Every week there's something else. As much as I want to win this game, I have to play through it."

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Finally, a tight end caught a pass. On third down and five, early in the fourth quarter, Holiday completed a pass to John Owens. Davie sensed the crowd applauded the move. It was Owens' second catch of the season. No other tight end has any receptions.

"They were cheering when John Owens caught that ball," Davie said. "They said ‘I told you so.' Only problem was we threw to that fullback and it got tipped or we would have been 2-for-2."

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