Notebook: Kapron Lewis-Moore leaves Notre Dame in physical, emotional pain
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly watches as Kapron Lewis-Moore is worked on during the first half of the BCS National Championship college football game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Few players enjoyed Notre Dame’s renaissance season more than burly senior defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore. The fifth-year senior captain had endured four middling seasons and nearly saw his career end when he tore the MCL in his right knee last season, with star freshman Aaron Lynch threatening to take his position and run with it.
But Lynch transferred, Lewis-Moore healed, and he came back to serve as one of the anchors of Notre Dame’s vaunted front seven, leading the Irish to a 12-0 record and a spot in the BCS national championship game.
But his season — and his Notre Dame career, this time — ended in devastating fashion on Monday night, when he suffered what Brian Kelly called a “significant knee injury” to that same right knee late in the first half. He returned late in the third quarter on crutches.
“It’s horrible, man,” Lewis-Moore said. “I talked about it earlier this week, going through injuries. It’s not fun, it’s like a grieving process, man. Hopefully I can come back from this. I’m going to work hard, I’m a fighter. Rehabbing the knee, I’m going to get it right. Hopefully I can play football again.”
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood had just four carries for eight yards, as the Irish had to throw early and often after falling behind early. Afterward, he declined to reveal whether he’ll leave for the NFL or return to Notre Dame next season.
“I have in mind what I want to do and stuff,” Wood said. “Whether we won the game or whether we didn’t win the game, that doesn’t alter my decision. … That’s really not important to me right now. I’d rather digest this loss with my team.”
Notre Dame recovered a muffed punt inside the Alabama 10-yard line following its first offensive possession, down just 7-0 at the time. But the Irish were flagged for fair-catch interference, even though replays showed the ball was muffed before Matthias Farley hit Christion Jones. The Tide retained the ball, and quickly scored a touchdown to make it 14-0.
“What I disputed was the validity of the fair catch,” Kelly said. “I thought it was an invalid fair catch signal. The official thought otherwise. And then our guys who watched it on video thought we didn’t make contact. That would have been a nice play to have go our way early in the game. But it certainly didn’t change the outcome of this football game.”
In a sign of just how poor a tackling job Notre Dame’s front seven did, safety Zeke Motta finished the game with a whopping 16 tackles. … Alabama’s BCS championship shutout streak hit 107 minutes, seven seconds before Everett Golson’s two-yard TD plunge in the third quarter. That includes last year’s 21-0 win over LSU, and the final 6:15 of the 2010 game against Texas.