Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys:

100 of the Greatest College Football Finishes (1970–1999)

The closing moments of the January 1, 1991, Orange Bowl game, and the national championship is on the line for Colorado. Then Notre Dame speedster Raghib “Rocket” Ismail grabs a punt and races almost 90 yards for a touchdown. The crowd is going wild; the announcer is screaming his excitement. For Notre Dame fans, the euphoria of winning is followed almost immediately by despair. A flag nullifies the TD, and Colorado emerges victorious.

Ted Mandell, a 1986 ND graduate and a specialist with the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, combined his interest in football and video/audio production to post a list of heart-stopping college football plays on his website. When the College Football Hall of Fame opened in downtown South Bend, Mandell designed an interactive web site featuring many of the same miracle wins (or losses, depending on which team you favored) for a kiosk there.

“I got lots of e-mail from people around the country,” says Mandell, with fans sending examples of their favorite last-minute winning plays. “That’s what motivated the book,” he adds. “I thought someone else might do it.”

So now, thanks to the response to his website, he’s published Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys. The book from Diamond Communications comes with a CD, where your heart can lurch again as you replay the final heart-stopping moments from 64 games, ranging from the 1968 Yale-Harvard match to the 1984 California-Stanford game where the Stanford band goes on the field a bit too early. Seven Notre Dame games made the top-100 list; six are on the CD.