"I thought we had to get it inside the 25," Coughlin said after the game. "When I [saw] the ball was in the middle of the field, I was very confident." Eagle place-kicker David Gordon would attempt the field goal, and Foley would be his holder. The game was still in his hands.
Gordon, a walk-on senior from Avon, Conn., transferred to BC after his freshman year at the University of Vermont, where he had played soccer. "He started out with very poor leg strength," said Coughlin, "but he worked like a dog to become a placekicker." Gordon won the Eagles' kicking job midway through last season, and since then he had been erratic. This year he had made only six of 10 attempts and missed a 40-yard potential game-winner in the loss to Northwestern. The longest field goal of his career was 39 yards. Now, against Notre Dame, he would attempt a kick of 41.
The snap was high, but, Foley said later, "I'm actually kind of used to it. I'd rather it be high than low." The same guy who had mishandled two short snaps from center caught this one and quickly got it down for Gordon, who was well into his kicking motion.
"He's a left-footed kicker, but his ball goes right to left," said Foley. "It started way right of the goalpost. But then I saw it dart back toward the inside."
"A knuckleball," said Gordon. "I don't like to talk about it."
As the ball went through the uprights, Foley leaped up and signaled that it was good. "Then I started running around like an idiot," he said. The players on the BC bench swarmed onto the field while the Irish crowd sat in stunned silence. One of the most dramatic comebacks in Notre Dame history had been ruined by Foley's hands—and, oh, yes, Gordon's foot. "Hey," said Foley, "David Gordon is a good kicker. He's gotten a bad rap, but he deserved to be there."
And Foley deserved to have the game in his hands. Of all the fine quarterbacks Notre Dame has faced this season—guys such as Stanford's Steve Stenstrom and Southern Cal's Rob Johnson and Michigan's Todd Collins—none of them, including probable Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward of Florida State, had riddled the Notre Dame defense quite the way Foley did in passing for 315 yards.
"We got beat, plain and simple," said Notre Dame's All-America offensive tackle, Aaron Taylor. "There's no woulda, coulda, shoulda about it. We were prepared. They were just better."
Because of The Drive, Notre Dame was no longer undefeated, no longer No. 1 and no longer likely to play for the national championship on Jan. 1. On one of the wildest Saturdays of any college football season, three of the Top 5 teams had lost: No. 3 Miami (beaten 17-14 by West Virginia), No. 5 Ohio State (28-0 losers to Michigan) and Notre Dame. And the Irish, who would drop to No. 5 in the bowl coalition poll behind Nebraska, Florida State, West Virginia and Auburn, seemed to have lost the most.
Leaning against a wall outside the BC locker room, Foley wrapped one of his hands around a can of soda and listened as a reporter said that Notre Dame's loss had moved Burris, the Irish safety, to tears. The good-hands man allowed himself the pleasure of a smile. Could he have been thinking about 54-7? "That's a shame," he said. "A damned shame."