September 15, 1979 - Blocked field goal leads to rule change

Michigan Notre Dame Helmets

Yet another highlight versus Michigan. In yet another season opener, this time to start the nation's toughest schedule. This time the game would be played at Michigan and Notre Dame was trying to figure out their identity without star quarterback, Joe Montana. Rusty Lisch would take over again as signal caller for the Irish. Lisch was named starter in 1977 but replaced by Montana by the fourth game and didn't see a game in 1978. Notre Dame came into the match ranked #9, two years removed from their most recent championship, while Michigan was a few spots ahead at #6. This meeting was the first time the two schools had met in Ann Arbor since 1943 (which Notre Dame won 35-12 and Michigan refused to play again until 1978). The rivalry was renewed in 1978 and has been an almost annual affair, with the contract extending past 2020 currently.

Notre Dame's offense would struggle all day, failing to score a touchdown the entire game. Michigan would strike first though on a 30 yard field goal. Notre Dame would answer with a 40 yard by Chuck Male following a Michigan fumble to tie the game 3-3. From the Notre Dame one yard line, Michigan would score the only touchdown of the game to go up 10-3. The Irish would get another field goal before the half off a second fumble and trailed 10-6. This time Male made a 44 yard field goal. In the third quarter Chuck Male would make two more field goals, from 22 yards when the offense stalled and 39 yards after a short Michigan punt. Notre Dame now had the lead, 12-10 with 3:46 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Chuck Male would set the school record at the time by going 4-4 on field goals (40, 44, 22, 39) and accounting for all twelve of Notre Dame's points. (This record for made field goals in a game would later be tied by Ho in 1988 against Michigan as well, but ultimately broken in 1990 and then tied three times by two players) Oddly enough, Male did not get recruited to play college ball and didn't even get accepted to Notre Dame when he applied. He started off at Western Michigan but successfully transferred the following year. Devine saw him kicking field goals one day and suggested he walk on the team.

Bob CrableMichigan would get the ball, still trailing 12-10, with 2:02 left in the game. The closest they could was the Notre Dame 25. With six seconds remaining, Michigan lined up to attempt a 42 yard field goal. After the snap, Bob Crable rushed the line, leaped off the defensive line's back and blocked the kick with his hip. In the video below, it's clear that Crable (#43) has an advantage using his teammate for leverage.

As a result of this play, the NCAA would make an amendment to the football rulebook beginning in the 1980 season. No player could use another player as leverage. Rule 9, specifically Rule 9-1-2-n, was inserted as follows:

Player Restrictions
ARTICLE 5. a. No player may position himself with his feet on the back or shoulders of a teammate before the snap.
PENALTY—Dead-ball foul. 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S27].
b. No defensive player, in an attempt to block, bat or catch a kick, may:
1. Step, jump or stand on a teammate (Rule 9-1-2-n).

2. Place a hand(s) on a teammate to get leverage for additional height

Where have Bob Crable and Chuck Male been since this game? Two time All-American Crable would play for the New York Jets as a first round pick before returning to coach his high school football team (until 2007) - where he played under Gerry Faust. As for Male, he is Vice President for a Cincinnati based realty company. did a good write up of Chuck Male's true Rudy story avilable here.

To read more on the 1979 Michigan game, check out the Sports Illustrated article or look in the Sports Illustrated vault.

Keywords: football, michigan, bob crable, joe montana, rusty lisch, chuck male, gerry faust

Posted On: 2011-09-15 03:15:00 by IrishTrpt07


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