December 7, 2023

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said he was trying to get a fourth defensive lineman on the field for the final play of the game in Saturday night’s 17-14 loss to Ohio State, but didn’t want to draw a penalty, so he stuck with 10 defenders on the play that allowed the winning touchdown.

Trailing 14-10, Ohio State had the ball on the one-yard line on third down, when Chip Trayanum ran up the middle and scored the winner with one second remaining. Freeman, a former linebacker, was asked after the game if he should have taken the penalty and tried to get the 11th defender onto the field.

“To me it was like, ‘Hey, don’t give them another opportunity to get settled and to try to make a different call,’ right?” said Freeman, who didn’t have any timeouts remaining. “Hey, guys, stay off the field. Let’s not give them a freebie from the half-yard line and let’s try to stop them.

“And I thought maybe they would do the same thing they did the snap before, and then they ended up running the ball,” he said. “So I got to watch the play and see where the ball hit. But, yeah, that’s why that I made that decision.”

Notre Dame’s short-handed defense was spotted by many when the officiating crew reviewed the winning touchdown.

“Everything was going fast. I’m trying to do my job, get the call,” safety Thomas Harper said. “That’s something we’ve got to do better. We can’t be down in that situation. We’ve got to do better, players and coaches. We’re going to learn from it and grow.”

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