Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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52 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? His life has literally soared since the epic win over No. 1 Miami in 1988 BY LOU SOMOGYI W hat is the most famous play in Notre Dame's football history? A debate might rage between two one-point Fighting Irish victories over a No. 1-ranked team that helped win national titles. The first was Tom Clements' 35- yard completion out of the end zone to tight end Robin Weber on third- and-eight from his 3-yard line in the closing two minutes of the 24-23 victory versus Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. The second is Pat Terrell's batted away two-point conversion to Mi- ami running back Leonard Conley — whom he competed against at a rival high school in Florida — with 45 seconds left to help preserve Notre Dame's 31-30 triumph against the mighty Hurricanes dynasty in 1988. For the longest time, though, Ter- rell considered that deflection maybe his second-best play just in that game. Earlier, he grabbed a tipped passed by defensive end Frank Stams and returned it for a 60-yard touch- down and a 21-7 lead. "As I got older, then I realized the bat-down was a little more mem- orable for most people, although it wasn't for me for a while," the now 52-year-old and Chicago-area resident said. "That stadium held about 59,000 back then — and I think I've met 59,000 people since then who have said, 'I sat right in that corner of the end zone when that play happened.'" He remains humbled by it, espe- cially because his parents, brother and other relatives were there in at- tendance. Yet every now and then, he wonders about the alternative. "I'm not a negative-thinking per- son, but it's like, 'If I hadn't made that play, it would have been tough to come back and visit,'" Terrell said. "It was a team victory and it was a lot of fun to play a special role." Returning to his native Florida that winter had a different feel. "When I went back to the barber shop, I was thinking I was going to get a lot of 'Atta boys!" Terrell said. "But guys were like, 'Pat, I'm glad you had a good game, but, man, you lost me a lot of money.'" OPENING UP FLORIDA Prior to the 1970s, Notre Dame players from Florida were almost non-existent. It was a reflection of the times — the NFL didn't even have football franchises in the South until Atlanta and Miami in 1966. It wasn't until head coach Lou Holtz and recruiting coordinator Vinny Cerrato arrived in 1986 that Notre Dame began to make inroads and become more of a player in the Sunshine State, which featured three of the top 10 programs in the na- tion with Miami, Florida State and Florida. Speed was at a premium for Holtz, and St. Petersburg native Terrell opened the floodgates in that first Holtz class — helping lead to sign- ing seven from Florida the following year, and later other stalwarts such as tight end Derek Brown, corner- back Tom Carter, quarterback Kevin McDougal and running back Autry Denson. "It's very difficult to leave the state," Terrell admitted. "People in Florida scratch their head and think why would you want to?" But Cerrato and Holtz were ex- tremely persuasive, and the words of his father still resonate with Terrell. "My dad said, 'Your mom and I aren't wealthy, but we can afford to send you to Florida.' But Notre Dame is a very special place, so if they're going to pay you with education — then sign a big contract,'" Terrell re- called with a laugh. There were some natural misgiv- ings when Terrell experienced snow for the first time, and he reminded Holtz in a joking matter during such a practice about the indoor Loftus Sports Center that was under con- struction and that had help sell Ter- rell on Notre Dame. "I got enough courage to say, 'What about the indoor facility we just built?'" Terrell said. "He took a long drag from his pipe and said, 'That's for recruiting purposes only.'" Still, earning a monogram as a freshman while working mainly on Pat Terrell, 1986-89 Free Safety Terrell's pass deflection of a two-point attempt to Leonard Conley with 45 seconds left helped preserve eventual national champion Notre Dame's dramatic 31-30 victory over Miami in 1988. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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