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Freeman takes ownership of late defensive lapse in loss to Ohio State

Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman is taking the blame for his team having only 10 defenders on the field for the final two plays in its loss to Ohio State on Saturday.

"We tell our players: Every play you can't be distracted by the things that don't matter. You have to do your job," Freeman said, according to ESPN's Heather Dinich. "The same thing applies to coaches. We can't get caught watching the game and not do our job."

He added: "Great teams execute when it matters the most, and we didn't do that Saturday; Ohio State did."

Freeman said the Fighting Irish will now implement a signal to draw penalties and stop games so that it can get defenders on the field.

The team burned its final timeout with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter while clinging to a 14-10 lead.

Notre Dame only had 10 players on defense during the Buckeyes' penultimate play, which resulted in an incompletion. The coaching staff only realized the error shortly before Buckeyes tailback Chip Trayanum ran in for the game-winning touchdown with one second remaining.

To stop the play, someone from Notre Dame would've had to touch somebody on offense for Ohio State. The infraction would've moved the ball up 6 inches but allowed Notre Dame to have its full defense on the field.

Freeman said he watched film of the loss until about 3 a.m. He then held an "angry, emotional meeting" with his staff in the morning. The coach said that he forgot about the "pain of losing" but that time "heals everything."

Notre Dame (4-1) plays Duke (4-0) on Saturday.

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