Duce's Wild: South Bend or bust: the 24-hour journey from Provo to watch BYU-Notre Dame in 1994

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 17 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

We were desperate to get to our top-row seats as fast as possible. The higher we climbed, the less friendly the fans, and we enjoyed some banter with the inebriated guys standing next to us.

Even the top row was not that far from the field and gave us the added benefit of standing the entire game without ruining the view for more conservative sitting fans. After eating my apple, I set the core on the edge of the brick wall, which promptly started attracting bees. In all the waving and whisking the pests away, my apple core fell to the ground below. It wasn’t long before security came rushing to our seats to reprimand me for the detected litter and public nuisance. Their vigilant upkeep of hallowed ground was impressive.

The game was exhilarating. Although the Irish scored first, John Walsh was in great form and our team was on fire with a surprisingly effective running game. After every score, we screamed our fight song a cappella without skipping a single “Rah, rah … rah, rah, rah.”

I can’t help but remember the series when BYU’s defense held the Irish on the 3-yard line for two plays and then pushed them back to the 24 on third down. Our favorite player, Chad Lewis, blocked a field goal attempt and we went crazy until the clock ran down. At the end of the game, we ran down the cement stairs like maniacs hoping to storm the field but instead were firmly directed to the portal where our team was headed for the locker room. The players, even coach LaVell Edwards, were smiling as brightly as us.

As the stadium emptied and we calmed down, security finally let us on the field for pictures in the end zone with the team's “Touchdown Jesus” in the background. The craziest among us picked green grass from the field and ate it.

Exhausted, we found our way back to the motor home and felt sheepish when realizing we were the first to leave the tailgating field. Even after a surprising loss, Notre Dame fans supported their team the entire weekend and had no intention of leaving anytime soon.

We drove the long way home, hoping to stop in Denver on Sunday. I didn’t remember much of Indiana and Illinois, but it was my husband’s turn to drive through Missouri and we had memorable bonding conversations as we drove through the night.

Eighteen years later, we can watch the movie “Rudy” anytime to remember details of our amazing Notre Dame experience. But it’s that antiquated home video in some unknown format that I long to find and watch with 13 friends I haven’t seen in almost two decades.

I’d like nothing more than to hear that another group of jubilant fans can experience a similar journey. Although the road was long, the memories are precious.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on desnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

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