Georgia Tech: 13
Notre Dame: 17
In the 1997 season opener, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame would meet for the first time on the gridiron since 1981. The Jackets had lost four of the last five in the series, the lone exception a 3-3 tie in 1980 of the then top ranked Irish. Tech’s last victory came in 1976 when the Jackets defeated the 11th ranked Irish 23-14 without attempting a forward pass. The teams would be playing in the newly renovated Notre Dame Stadium, which had just been expanded by some 21,000 seats. More than 300 former players were on hand for the occasion, which had been dubbed the Stadium Rededication Game. Given the importance of the game, a special ticket was drafted that measures 4” x 8 ½” in size.
The Irish got on the board first with a 3 yard touchdown run by Autry Denson with 7:56 to play in the opening period.
Georgia Tech answered at the start of the second quarter with an 11 yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Joe Hamilton and the game was tied at 7-all.
Tech kicker Dave Frakes gave the Jackets a brief lead when he nailed a 33 yard field goal with 4:14 to go in the half, but the Irish fought back quickly, taking the ensuing kickoff to the Tech 11 where Jim Sansom hit from 28 yards out to tie the game 10-10 at intermission.
The teams played a scoreless third quarter before the Ramblin’ Wreck gained momentum in the final period. Frakes nailed a 33 yard field goal to give Tech a 13-10 lead a few seconds into the quarter and senior linebacker Ron Rogers intercepted Ron Powlus’s pass on the ensuing Irish possession.
The Jackets advanced to the Notre Dame 26 before stalling, and missed on a solid opportunity when Frakes’s 43 yard kick was wide right.
But the Tech defense came up big again on the very next play when Jason Bostic intercepted another pass from Powlus.
Three plays gained little yards before Frakes missed his second field goal in as many possessions. The exchange shifted all momentum to the Irish and sent the Yellow Jacket defense back into the game with 7:42 to play.
Denson exploded for 15 yards on the first play of the drive to spark the Notre Dame offense. The Irish then gained four first downs en route to a 1st and goal at the 2 yard line, where Denson finally scored with 2:37 to play for a 17-13 lead.
The Yellow Jackets had one last chance to win the game, but produced nothing more than a three-and-out and elected to punt. The Irish went on to run out the clock for a 17-13 victory.
Notre Dame went on to lose their next four games before collecting themselves to win six of their last seven regular season contests. The 7-5 finish earned them a spot in the Independence Bowl, where they would fall 27-9 to the Louisiana State Tigers.
GT – 17
ND – 22
GT – 177
ND – 154
GT – 10-21-118
ND – 18-29-217
GT – 0-0
ND – 0-0
GT – 2
ND – 2
GT – 5-30
ND – 7-44
USA Today Recap: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/scores97/97249/97249388.htm