Down and out at home again
The looks on the players' faces as they walked off the field on Saturday night told the entire story. Senior linebacker Scott Smith's anguish was plain, as was that of junior running back Armando Allen. Others wore blank expressions, perhaps reflecting shock while trying to come to grips with Notre Dame football's latest defeat. Or coming to grips with the latest setback in a three-game losing streak, a 33-30 home lost to UConn in double overtime. Or a season that showed so much promise, but is now all but lost. And hanging over the final game of 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday night was the job status of Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis. "It's gut-wrenching," Weis said at the post-game press conference, where he deflected questions about whether he'll be returning next year. "I'll worry about me tomorrow," he said. "But I think today," he said, referring to the players in the Notre Dame locker room, "I should be worrying about them." It was a day of high emotion on both sides. UConn won for the first time since the stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard. The Huskies, now 5-5, had lost three close games in a row since that tragedy. "That little No. 6 was looking down on us today," UConn coach Randy Edsall said of Howard. UConn's players were gratified to finally win one for their fallen teammate, but weren't overly jubilant in the locker room after the contest. "It wasn't off the charts," Edsall said. "They were happy and very excited, but they were not surprised." Notre Dame blew out to a 14-0 early lead, using a no-huddle approach to move the ball effectively, scoring on a 8-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Clausen to Golden Tate and a 1-yard Clausen sneak. The Huskies, keeping a drive alive thanks to a personal foul penalty on Notre Dame's Sergio Brown on an incomplete third-and-long pass, cut the lead in half on a 43-yard Jordan Todman touchdown run. They added a 39-yard field goal from Dave Teggart to cut the lead to 14-10 at the half, but Irish kicker David Ruffer answered with a 20-yarder of his own in the third quarter. That breathing room was short-lived as Todman took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The two teams traded field goals again, and UConn had a chance to win at the end of regulation on a field goal try, but Teggart missed wide left from 37 yards. Zach Frazer, a former Notre Dame backup quarterback who now starts for UConn, hit Kashif Moore for an 11-yard scoring pass to open overtime. Michael Floyd tied it up with a 4-yard touchdown catch. Ruffer, starting for the injured Nicholas Tausch, hit a field goal in the second overtime after UConn stopped the Irish to put Notre Dame ahead 30-27. UConn answered as it had all game, with its rushing attack. Andre Dixon converted a third and 1, gained 11 to the Notre Dame four on the next play, and then ran in easily from there to end it. The loss spoiled the final home game of the year for 33 Irish seniors, and came amid big days from Clausen (30-for-45 for 329 passing yards and no interceptions), Tate (nine catches for 123 yards) and Floyd (eight catches for 104 yards). UConn ran for 231 yards, with Dixon and Todman both surpassing 100. Allen gained 106 yards on 24 carries for Notre Dame (6-5). Up next is a road trip to surging Stanford. "I feel miserable," Weis said. "No one cares more about these kids short term and long-term than me. I don't worry about them just now, just today or just next week."
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