When a team surrenders 30 points, it is hard to call their defense dominating. But when the game was truly on the line, it was the stoutness of the Irish D (a unit that has struggled mightily this season) that allowed them to win the game. Down 24-19 late in the third quarter and with Washington on the Notre Dame 1-yard line, the Huskies tried twice to sneak the ball into the endzone with Locker but were turned away by a swarm of Irish defenders for a turnover on downs. Had Notre Dame allowed Washington to score they would have been down 31-19 and found themselves all but out of the game. Instead the defense came through in a massive way, seemingly allowing their offense to decide the fate of the game which is undoubtedly the way Weis would ideally want it.
But again in the 4th quarter Charlie would once again be forced to call on his defense for some goal line and game saving magic (the intangible once snidely called the "luck of the Irish" in better days). With under 12 minutes to play Washington went on a 9:19, 69 yard drive and Notre Dame again found themselves backed up to their goal line, with the Huskies ready to put the game out of reach. The Irish stiffened up, holding on three straight plays and forcing Washington into a field goal situation. But on the attempt, the bizarre and unthinkable happened; a phantom roughing the center penalty.
One of the rarest and most obscure penalties on the books, the result of this anomaly was another set of downs for Washington. But, as the faintness of the echoes wafted over the rain-drenched, fall winds, the Irish defense rose up once again with a resounding defiance that just may actually have shaken down the fabled thunder from the afternoon's blue-grey sky. Holding Washington to a field goal, Notre Dame was still down 27-22 with 2:52 left in the game. But with their offense rolling, the Irish defense fought viciously with a crucial stand to give their star-QB a chance to win the game.