GOLDEN CHRONICLES OF NOTRE DAME: Resilience knocks down No.1 Clemson (By Omar Ureña)

By Omar Ureña

It’s been 21 years since former Notre Dame linebacker Demetrius DuBose was shot and killed by two cops in San Diego. That was the kind of adrenaline that exploded from Irish senior defensive tackle Daelin Hayes protesting against police brutality, that led to a team march that was held on June 16 at Notre Dame campus, he was joined by Max Siegel and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.  Daelin Hayes addressed five months ago his motivation:

‘These are the realities that our players, our students face far beyond when we take off a golden helmet, far beyond when we take off a Notre Dame monogram, we’re still a black man.”

Daelin Hayes walks with head coach Brian Kelly in the June 16 march (Robert Franklin (South Bend Tribune)

It was a peaceful protest attended by 1,400 members of the Notre Dame community. Those protests prompted change. Coach Brian Kelly marched with his players and now they fight for their ideals and for their coach. This is what coach Kelly said back then:

  “It’s easy to come out one day to talk about change,” he said. “It’s easy to have one rally. But to keep that change moving — substantial change —it requires a spirit and an energy like no other.”

November 7 represented a historic day in a parallelism in which the fierce battle for the US presidency tied the intensity in the competition for the ACC supremacy in a pandemic year in which the Irish and Tigers have waged their own battles against ACC opponents, racism and Covid 19. Commentator Rece Davis on his College Gameday program broke the morning news from South Bend: Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States.  At his side will be Kamala Harris, the first woman to reach the vice presidency. She represents women of color who for centuries have shown resilience because they influenced change. They are the mothers who have raised their children so they can play football and get an education.

Running back Kyren Williams (23) breaks through the hole in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium between No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 1 Clemson. (ACC Media)

  With the inertia of the Black Lives Matter movement it was time to bring that inspiration to the Roman circle.  Daelin Hayes, Max Siegel and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa walked through the tunnel inspired that the game for equality had been won and it was now the turn for these gladiators of social justice to win in the face of adversity. Daelin Hayes won the toss as a good omen before the kickoff.  It was Coach Brian Kelly’s first game facing the No. 1 as a head coach of the Irish.

  Coach Kelly warned they were going to chase freshman QB DJ Uiagalelei so coach Clark Lea was blitzing. In my pregame article I mentioned that the defensive front would make a score and this happened in the 2nd quarter, the defenders attacked in the trenches to stop the fierce Travis Etienne who was hit in such a way that he lost the ball and was recovered by Jeremiah  Owusu-Koramoah to bring it back 23 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown. The Irish were dominating 20-10. On Clemson’s next drive, Owusu-Koramoah forced a fumble and Nick McCloud recovered it in Clemson territory.

Open-field tackle — at Notre Dame Stadium between No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 1 Clemson. (ACC Media)

  The Notre Dame offense came in and the power of the offensive line was cheered in the stands as they ironed the young Tigers, who were hurt by the absence of LB Mike Jones and defensive tackle Tyler Davis due to the Coronavirus.  So suddenly two young men were thrown into the voracious spectacle in the colosseum with 11,000 people starving for an epic triumph.

  The Irish dominated the Tigers for most part of the game, until pain and fire burning the felines had them devouring yards. In the fourth quarter Clemson broke through and scored with 3:33 left to take the lead 33-26.  The courage of the Notre Dame defense prevailed just when they needed it most, forcing Clemson to a three and out.

D.J. Uiagalelei waits for the snap in the No. 1 Clemson vs. No 4. Notre Dame matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium. (ACC Media)

  Irish guide Ian Book showed mettle late in the battle with 1:48 on the clock.  In eight plays they covered 91 yards, it turned out to be a brilliant drive highlighted by a 53-yard pass to Avery Davis, who later caught another pass, this time from four yards for a game-tying touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.  It was overtime and the hero who is heard by his teammates, Dael Hayes once again represented the Irish on the toss. Notre Dame won it and chose to defend the south end zone.

  In the first series Clemson scored and Notre Dame responded with the power of Kyren Williams who entered the end zone on a 4-yard run to tie the game 40-40. The punch to the Tigers came on another three-yard touchdown run from  Williams. It was the moment of truth for Daelin Hayes and the rest of the defense, they were once again defending their ideals and their territory against the Number one in the United States.

Daelin Hayes (Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

  That motivation is what led Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to sack Clemson’s Freshman QB on a crucial play, spreading the spirit of Daelin Hayes who on a 4th and 24th went to hunt down DJ Uiagalelei and took him down heroically. The role of this gladiator takes on importance, these actions honor Demetrius DuBose, and all the African Americans who have been hunted by the regime of fear and terror.  Coach Kelly shared with Grafico Sports what Hayes represents for this team.

  “He is extremely present when he speaks now, the guys really listen to everything he has to say because it is clear that he has their ears, you do it when you are a man of your word, when they trust you and see how you are performing on the field too. Your best players gain a lot of credibility, he will be very important next week and the upcoming weeks”.

The Fighting Irish defense kept the Tigers at 34 rushing yards for their lowest total since 2009, while limiting Travis Etienne to the fewest yards per carry of his career (1.6).

Travis Etienne dodges Isaiah Foskey’s tackle in the No. 1 Clemson vs. No 4. Notre Dame matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium (ACC Media)

 “Yeah, just for me, just watching our team handle themselves in the fourth quarter, handle themselves when there was adversity, as a coach, those are the special moments. Yeah, we won the football game and I’m certainly excited about that, but more so, when you watch your players exhibit resolve and exhibit grit and refuse to lose a football game against the No. 1 team in the country”.

  In the most anticipated game at Notre Dame Stadium in more than a decade, the Irish brought the final stab to the Tigers’ 36-game winning streak in regular season.

  #4 NOTRE DAME 47 #1 CLEMSON 40

Notre Dame’s bench rushes the field once they win the No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 1 Clemson matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium (ACC Media)

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