September 19, 2010

'I said a little prayer'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio rolled the dice with a gutsy play call "little giants" that took the game off the leg of sophomore kicker Dan Conroy and was instantly woven into the fabric of MSU-Notre Dame lore when senior punter Aaron Bates completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Charlie Gantt, who walked into the end zone to seal a 34-31 overtime victory in the 74th meeting between the Spartans and the Fighting Irish.

"We made a great play at the end of the game,' Dantonio said. ":Execution, that's what gets it done. Aaron Bates, he's just been an unbelievable football player since he's come here. There's a reason that he was named captain. Not just because of his playing ability but because of him as a football player and him in tough situations. We executed."

Dantonio said he has confidence in the leg of Conroy, but he felt that the circumstances were right for the play that was called.

"Not to take anything away from Dan," said Dantonio. "I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on him. I'd rather the pressure be on us or on me. With a 47-yarder, I would have hated to have put that kind of pressure on him and us come up short with it. He's very capable of it obviously. The last kick of the game against Notre Dame, in overtime, to tie it. And I thought that we had a good chance to win it. We had that play called 200 times and we scored touchdowns."

The game-winning play was supposed to go to Le'Veon Bell. The first-year sensation got tangled up with a Notre Dame defender and fell down on the play. Bates showed uncanny presence in the pocket and found Gantt wide-open for a touchdown.

"We needed a play on special teams and we got it," Dantonio said. "We said all along that we needed to have one big momentum play. We just didn't know when it would come."

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