Lambert bounces back from last week

EAST LANSING - Terrail Lambert stepped in front of a Drew Stanton pass, raced 27 yards into the end zone, and changed a lot of minds about the Notre Dame program in the process.

In his second-career start, the junior cornerback picked off the first two passes of his career in the game's final three minutes, the first one putting the 12-ranked Irish ahead and then the second one icing a 17-point comeback in a thrilling 40-37 victory over Michigan State. A game that appeared to be lost on several occasions was salvaged.

"It's like being on cloud 30," Lambert said, whatever that means, but on this night, he can say what he wants. "God is good."

Lambert was also good.

With the Spartans clinging to a 37-33 lead with three minutes remaining, Stanton was flushed from the pocket and made a bad throw that landed in Lambert's hands. The 5-11, 185-pound speedster beat everyone to the corner and found pay dirt for his first collegiate touchdown.

"I was playing outside man and I had watched film and I knew the receiver nine times out of ten would be going inside," Lambert explained. "He did. He ran a small drag across the middle, like a three-yard route, I closed to his hip hoping one of the linebackers would pick him up and luckily Mo Crum was able to blitz, cause pressure, because Stanton was a little rattled in the pocket and he threw it a little bit earlier than I think he wanted to, and luckily I was in the right spot."

Lambert, who had five tackles, was also in the right spot with 14 seconds remaining, making a nifty interception to end all Spartans' hope. Michigan State was desperately trying to get into field goal range at the very least, but Stanton again was stoned by Lambert, in what ended up being the last play of the game.

"I was trying to close to the hip and Mike Richardson, he had dove and tipped the ball and I was able to turn and see the ball, and it kind of sort of fell in my hands."

With that, so did victory, keeping Notre Dame's (3-1) Bowl Championship Series and slim National Title wishes alive.

Just last week, Lambert was on the opposite end of the excitement, being burnt by Michigan's Mario Manningham for two long touchdowns. Stanton thought he could pick on Lambert as well. He did a bit in the first half, but the Oxnard, Calif., product showed resiliency.

"One of the things (secondary) coach (Bill) Lewis always harps on is mental toughness in the secondary. Like I said before, it's the nature of your position, the next play is always the most important play. It's part of your job, there's always going to be times when you're going to get beat."

Tonight it was the Spartans (3-1) getting beat.

*Chinedum Ndukwe has a knack for making plays and causing turnovers. The senior safety has forced four fumbles in his career including two this season, none bigger than the strip and recovery of a Stanton option play with Notre Dame trailing 37-27, and a little over six minutes to play.

"We just needed to get the ball back," stated Ndukwe, who was tied for second on the team with seven tackles. "I just wanted to step up and make a play. I think we were down by two scores at that point, so I mean we were just trying to chip away. No one ever doubted that we could come back and take this game. That's what we did. People stepped up and made plays."

"It was definitely an emotional roller coaster, which I can't explain how I'm feeling right now. It's just a good win for our program."

* It was a tail of two halfs for Stanton. The MSU signal-caller did what he wanted in the first half, completing 8-of-13 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 65 yards on nine carries, and the Spartans took a 31-14 lead into the locker room..

In the second half, the Heisman candidate could only connect on 2-of-9 attempts for 23 yards, and the two killer interceptions. He only rushed for 24 yards.

The Irish defense sacked Stanton three times and stopped him behind the line of scrimmage on several occasions.

"Just pinning your ears back," said defensive end Victor Abiamiri of the aggressive approach in the second half. He registered his second sack of the season. "I think at halftime we were in danger of letting this game get away from us. I just think our team settled down a bit and said matter-of-factly, laid out the things we needed to do to come back and win this football game."

*Travis Thomas led the defense with eight tackles.

*The attendance for Saturday night's game was 80,193, the third-largest crowd in Michigan State history.

*Weis said he was going to present Saturday's game ball to Ara Parseghian, who coached the Irish in the 10-10 tie with the Spartans in 1966. Notre Dame will honor that team before the Purdue game this coming Saturday. Top Stories