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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame vs. Hawaii 1991


Tony Brooks
Tony Brooks

Well, we survived Notre Dame vs. USC week and are rewarded with ... the bye week! Seeing as there is no Notre Dame game this Saturday, I’m going to “throwback” to 1991 when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish traveled to the Aloha State to play the University of Hawaii. My personal circumstances surrounding the game also happen to be some of the more embarrassing from my time at Notre Dame, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

I’m sure when the 18th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish traveled to Honolulu to face the Hawaii Warriors on November 30, 1991, they didn’t think it would turn out to be a six point game, but I guess that’s why they play the game, right? Tony Brooks and Jerome Bettis each had two touchdowns, and with 5:15 remaining in the game the Irish were up 48-28. But the Rainbow Warriors weren’t quite ready to give up yet, and scored two late touchdowns under the direction of reserve quarterback Ivin Jasper.

Following Bettis’s second touchdown at 5:15, Jasper drove the Rainbow Warriors down the field and scored on a 31-yard run with 3:42 left. Then, Hawaii recovered the onside kick at its 49, and seven plays later Jasper passed seven yards to Eddie Kealoha for a touchdown with 1:38 left. This got the Rainbow Warriors to within six points, 48-42.

Hawaii tried once more with an onside kick, but Notre Dame recovered the ball and ran out the clock. The game was a defense optional game, with the Irish gaining 499 yards in total offense, and the Rainbow Warriors totaling 473 of their own. Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer completed 12 of 19 passes for 218 yards and receiver Tony Smith had a career-high nine catches for 140 yards.

It must have been a memorable game for Coach Holtz, as well, which can be seen in this interview on Hawaii News Now.

“Legendary Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz joins us live in the studio. Coach, thanks for coming in. Okay, so I had to ask him, I’m pretty amazed. You’ve coached a zillion games, but you remember November 30th, 1991, coming in to Aloha stadium, right?”

“Oh, very, very vividly. We jumped up on you pretty good and I think Paul Johnson was your offensive coordinator and ran that triple option. We had you under control and then next thing you know you change quarterbacks, he starts scrambling, and then we fought for our lives, and ended up winning the game by I think maybe seven (six) points. And then we go beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl. I always remember the difficult games. I had a great respect for the University of Hawaii. Hawaii played physical, they always played tough, and they were always competitive.”

Okay, now on to my embarrassment. My parents thought it would be awesome for them to go to Hawaii to see Notre Dame play. They also thought it would be awesome to send their only daughter, the Notre Dame student, to Toledo, Ohio, to spend Thanksgiving with her grandparents. Awesome. So my parents had the time of their life in Hawaii, saw an exciting Notre Dame game, and happened to meet several Notre Dame players after the game. One of which was Rick Mirer, and another was Clint Johnson.

Rick and I were both marketing majors, and had several classes together. On that first Monday back at school, I ran into Rick on the way to class, and he said to me, “Hey, I met your mom in Hawaii. I’m not sure why she thinks I’m such a big deal ... I’m just an average guy.” Riiiight ... who’s on NBC every Saturday.

Then, flash forward to the end of December when we were in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. My parents and I were walking through the hotel when we ran into Clint Johnson, and my parents INTRODUCED ME to him. Are you kidding me? Do you know how embarrassing it is to have your parents introduce you to a football player?? Very, very embarrassing.

The best part of these stories is, first, the last time my mom saw Rick (three years ago) she rehashed the story, embarrassing me yet again. And second, every time I see Clint he asks how my mom is doing (which she absolutely loves!!). Yep, you gotta love the Notre Dame family!

Okay ... enjoy the bye week, and next week we’ll talk ND vs. Michigan!

(What’s your favorite ND vs. UM game?)

Cheers & GO IRISH!