Marshall upsets No. 8 Notre Dame 26-21
Freeman to 0-3 for Irish
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP/WNDU) - Steven Gilmore returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and Khalan Labron ran for 163 yards as Marshall shocked No. 8 Notre Dame 26-21.
Gilmore, the brother of Stephon Gilmore of the Indianapolis Colts, picked off a pass by Tyler Buchner with 4:35 left, raced to the end zone and then jumped into the stands where Marshall fans were already celebrating the victory.
Marshall (2-0), the first Sun Belt Conference team to play at Notre Dame Stadium, beat a team ranked in the top 10 for just the second time in school history.
A sold out crowd was booing their beloved Irish by the second quarter after a handful of ineffectual drives and a score that was much closer than many thought it should have been.
Notre Dame went into halftime down 9-7. And while they were able to manufacture a coupe of scoring drives in the second half, unlike last week against Ohio State, Marshall just made more, including Gilmore’s pick six with five minutes left to play that gave the Thundering Herd a two possession lead.
Instead of a bounce back game after hanging tough with the Buckeyes, the school that received $1.25 million to be added to Notre Dame’s schedule took the money and ran off into the sunset with a victory.
Marcus Freeman became the first Fighting Irish coach to lose his first three games. During a postgame press conference, he touched on what he needs to do to stem the tide.
“I’ve got to be a leader,” Freeman said. “I can’t sit here and point the fingers at any one person. You start with pointing your finger at yourself and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to evaluate myself first as the leader of this program’ and say, ‘Okay, where can we improve?’ And then we’ve got to challenge everything we’re doing.
“We can’t say, ‘Okay, guys, just keep doing it the same way and things are just magically going to improve,’” Freeman continued. “No. We’ve got to be very strategic and honest with ourselves and honest with each other, which isn’t comfortable all the time, but we have to be honest and really take an unbiased look and say, ‘Okay, are we doing what’s best for this team? Do we have the right people on the field? Are we schematically doing the things that it takes to have success?’ Because two entire games it hasn’t shown. It’s shown at points. We’ve done a really good job at points in the game. But the entirety of two games, it’s not where we need to be. So as a leader, I’ve got to be the first one to look at myself, and then we’ve got to really look at what we’re doing and challenge it.”
Freeman was also asked directly how he thought his inexperience as a head coach played into today’s result.
“I don’t know if that’s a reason why, or a lack of execution,” Freeman responded. “But it starts with me. It starts with me as a head coach and looking at myself and saying, ‘What do I have to do to help this football team’ and really look at everything we’re doing, because the performance isn’t where we need it to be.”
Meanwhile, multiple players gauged the mood of the Irish immediately following Saturday’s loss.
“I mean, what would any team be,” said defensive lineman Howard Cross III. “They would be down in the dumps, like what are you going to do. But this is how great teams are made; they pick up the pieces and put it back together. The whole thing Freeman told us despite anything that happened was you guys got to stay together. Stay together cause obviously it’s Notre Dame and everybody’s going to say something because we lost. It’s an upset, it happens. But we’ve got to get our stuff together. From the coaches to the starters to scout linemen, everyone needs to get their stuff together. We’ve got to move on and fix this because we can, and we know we can. We can be a great team.”
Tight end Michael Mayer says the team needs to immediately move on to its next game against Cal.
“We have a long season ahead,” Mayer said. “I think people know that. Our goal is to win out the rest of the season. Obviously a very tough loss, nobody wants to lose ever. We’re going to come in tomorrow and watch the film, coaches are going to coach us up, and we’re just going to get ready for Cal. I mean, there’s nothing really else we can do. You really can’t sulk in these losses. We’re 0-2. Yes, it’s horrible. Of course, it’s horrible. But we’re just going to prepare for the next team, try and execute the best we can execute, and just keep playing the season.”
Notre Dame will look to pick up its first win of the season next Saturday, Sept. 17, against Cal. Kickoff at Notre Dame Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m.
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