Spartans Edged By No. 12 Irish 40-37
 
 
 
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Sept. 24, 2006

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Notre Dame looked beaten and Michigan State looked unstoppable.

Then, in a stunning turn of events, cornerback Terrail Lambert capped a furious rally by returning an interception 19 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining to give the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish a 40-37 victory over the Spartans on Saturday night.

The loss stunned Michigan State (3-1) and its pumped-up crowd, who remained in the stands despite heavy rain in the second half, convinced they were going to see the Spartans beat the Irish (3-1) for the eighth time in 10 games.

But it wasn't to be.

Lambert made sure of that, following up his score by ending the Spartans' hopes moments later with a juggling interception of Drew Stanton's pass on the final play of the game.

That the decisive plays came from the Irish defense, exposed in a blowout loss to Michigan last week and for much of the game Saturday, may have been the most surprising development.

Michigan State jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and looked like it might continue its recent good fortune against the Irish, which included a 44-41 overtime victory in South Bend last year after which a few Spartan players planted a school flag near midfield.

The Spartans led this one 31-14 at halftime and looked as if they should be preparing for another postgame celebration.

"When we went into halftime we said if we don't play 30 minutes of complete football we have no chance." Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said.