MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, played his final college game in Monday night's 42-14 loss to No. 2 Alabama (13-1) in the BCS championship game.
The 6-foot-6, 251-pound senior has one more year of eligibility remaining after only appearing in one game as a freshman before a back injury sidelined him for the rest of that year. But instead of returning for a fifth year, he will leave the No. 1 Irish (12-1) and enter the NFL draft.
"I've known for quite a while that this would be my last game here," Eifert said. "It was tough, taking off the Notre Dame jersey for the last time was emotional. Because of all the hard work that has been put in and the brothers that we made on the team, it will tough to leave them."
Eifert, who graduated this season, has done everything he needed to in his college career.
He leaves Notre Dame as its all-time leader in receptions (140) and receiving yards (1,840) by a tight end, and he won the Mackey Award, nation's top tight end, this season.
Eifert had six catches for 61 yards against Alabama.
"We were talking all toward the end," receiver and fellow Dwenger grad John Goodman, a fifth-year senior, said of Eifert. "I'm going to miss him. Maybe we can be on the same team in the NFL, maybe someday. It's a possibility.
"It's hard to leave a guy like that, who I've played with since I was in fifth grade. He's a special player. He had a heck of a career."
Defense loses its way
Notre Dame had its worst defensive performance of the season in the championship loss.
Alabama gained 529 yards, notched 28 first downs, went 8 of 13 on third-down conversions and had four scoring drives of 80 yards or more against a Notre Dame defense that came into the game not giving up a scoring drive of more than 75 yards.
"I just feel we started off slow and played out of sync, and they played fast and started out fast," Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. "I just feel like we played like we showed, we played like we haven't been here before. They played like thy have been here before.
"They capitalized on our mistakes and punished us with touchdowns."
Defensive stars finish strong
Linebacker Manti Te'o and safety Zeke Motta finished their careers at Notre Dame with strong performances as both seniors had double-digit totals in tackles against Alabama.
Motta had a game-high 16 tackles, and Te'o had 10 tackles. But both said personal accomplishments did little to nothing to sooth the hurt felt by the loss.
"Obviously we don't want to go out like that," Motta said. "It's tough to take a loss. And through the whole season, to get to this point, we had opportunities, and we didn't execute to our best capabilities and obviously got to give the credit to Alabama for executing the way that they did. They had a great game and just feel bad just because it hurts going out with these seniors.
"Next year. they have something to look forward to, though. I think that we all represented the team well, and we would have liked to represent ourselves better tonight, but at the end of the day, we move forward after this and grow."
Notre Dame fifth-year senior defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore didn't get to finish his final college game.
Lewis-Moore left late in the first half favoring his right leg and didn't return against Alabama. He had one tackle before the injury.
"He suffered a significant knee injury," was the only update coach Brian Kelly had after the game.
Back to Back
Alabama became the first team to win back-to-back national titles since Nebraska did it in 1994 and 1995.
And even though this was the Crimson Tide's third title in four years, coach Nick Saban was still reluctant to label the program as a dynasty.
"I don't think words like 'dynasty' are really words that I'm much interested in," Saban said. "You know we're interested in accomplishment and consistency in performance, and we want to continue to try to do that in the future. (Dynasties) are for other people to talk about."
Still, Monday night was an impressive performance to add to Alabama's current run of success, and the players are proud of what they built at the school.
"It's pretty crazy when you think about it, all the history in college football in the BCS era. It's pretty special and I think it shows a lot about Coach Saban, the job he does and our staff," said quarterback AJ McCarron, who threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns.