Irish Cruise Past Navy

Dexter Williams ran for three touchdowns as Notre Dame raced out to a 27-0 halftime lead, and the Irish survived a sloppy second half to defeat Navy by 44-22 before a sellout crowd in San Diego, California. Ian Book completed 27 of 33 passes for 330 yards in another solid performance, and the junior accounted for 50 of the team’s 254 rushing yards. Williams finished with 142 yards and Miles Boykin had two touchdown receptions in the second half. Notre Dame moves to 8-0 on the season and will hold onto the number three position when the college football playoff rankings are released this week.

The Irish stumbled out of the gate as Boykin fumbled the ball away after catching a pass on the game’s first play. Notre Dame’s defense asserted itself quickly by stopping Navy on a fourth down play and holding them to just two first downs in the half. Meanwhile, Notre Dame found traction on the ground and met little resistance as it built an insurmountable lead.

The Midshipmen came out firing in the third quarter, as Malcolm Perry repeatedly broke containment on the outside pitch play. His 58-yard romp set up Navy’s first touchdown, and the Irish defenders appeared to forget how to tackle. Although the outcome was never really in danger, the Midshipmen embarrassed Notre Dame on several occasions with long runs, a couple of passes and 22 second half points. Meanwhile, Book and Boykin combined to pad the the Irish point total and maintain a safe advantage.

One bit of drama occurred early in the fourth quarter with the Irish ahead by 37-14. Book threw an errant pass that was picked off by Jacob Springer and returned to the Notre Dame 25. The Midshipmen scored two plays later to pull within 37-22, but the Irish answered with a 75-yard scoring march to ice the game. The defense recovered down the stretch to force two Navy turnovers while the offense ran out the clock.

Besides a lackluster second half where the team appeared to lose focus, an ankle injury that knocked linebacker Drue Tranquill out of the game and into a walking boot was the only negative takeaway from this contest. Fortunately, Tranquill’s injury is not as severe as it first appeared to be on the field, although his status for next week is uncertain.

Let’s review the answers to the pregame questions.

Can the Irish defense hold containment on the edges to stop the pitch play? Yes and no. They did a wonderful job of stuffing the option in the first half, but were repeatedly gashed by Perry and others in the second.

Will Notre Dame’s patchwork offensive line get the running game back on track? Definitely, although most of us in the stands were wondering why Brian Kelly elected to throw the ball 33 times against an obviously outmanned Navy defense.

Can the Irish get off to a fast start and play the game with the lead? Yes, so the extra week of rest was just the tonic the Irish needed.

Will Navy have any trick plays in its arsenal to surprise the Irish? A double reverse went nowhere, but Garret Lewis did connect on a 34-yard pass to Mychal Cooper, who beat Notre Dame’s Julian Love on the play.

Can Notre Dame’s special teams finally dominate in this phase of the game? No, there were lots of fair catches and no excitement. Kicker Justin Yoon sat out the game with a groin strain, and Jonathan Doerer handled the job quite well after a shaky start.

Will the Irish defenders stay healthy while battling Navy’s aggressive blocking schemes? The loss of Tranquill for any stretch of time would be a tough blow to this defense as we move into November.

Will Notre Dame decide to move its campus to San Diego after a weekend in paradise? It was a glorious day, but the reason the NFL’s Chargers moved out of San Diego would also apply to the Irish. No team and its fans would want to play its games in that ancient, decrepit stadium. What a dump.

13 thoughts on “Irish Cruise Past Navy

  1. Offense bailed out the D. this time. toughest remaining game of season next week in Evanston. NW will be flying high w/ win after beating overrated Wisconsin w/o Hornibrook

    Look for close ND win: 28-24 over NW. in a dogfight.

  2. Except for the first play, The Irish looked great in the first half but the defense looked awful in the second half…Thankfully the offense did enough to make it a comfortable win over an over match Navy team…They better play better and more consistently in the next four weeks or they will taste defeat at least once….
    I think they can..but will they???

    Go Irish!!!!!!

  3. Second half interception should have never happened because on 3rd and 3 in four down territory is really stupid and a horrible call at that stage of the game when your opponent has gained some momentum. Dunce hat for the coach that made call. If these kind of calls continue a loss is inevitable. Second half game management and effort not good.

  4. Geez, the D gave up almost 300 yards rushing. Bring back Van Gorder! Just kidding.

    ND must win pretty from here on out to retain their ranking. They could still retain #3 spot with a close win against NW but all other wins must be double digit or blowouts or doubt will creep into the pollsters minds and rightly so given that Alabama and Clemson are completely eviscerating every team they play.

    Blowout wins is the only way to erase doubts and reservations.

  5. It’s probably safe to say that the Irish won’t review these game films until the off season – don’t play Navy (or the triple option) again until next year. I Drew’s ankle isn’t as bad as we thought, the D should be fine for the rest of this season – including the Playoffs.

    GO IRISH!!

  6. Great win overall. Need more consistency. Turning the ball over, missed extra points, and second half let downs wont cut it vs. quality opponents. This team shows flashes of greatness, no doubt they can beat anyone.

  7. GOND88: An undefeated ND team is going to the CFP.
    Watching the game in the stands with Navy fans, I was comfortable with letting off the gas in the second half. Just didn’t like the breakdowns.
    The band didn’t make the trip but I was pleased to hear our well spirited team sing the Alma Mater a cappella.
    Jack Murphy Stadium would not be such a dump if, like everything they build in San Diego, they took care of it.
    Go Irish, Beat Northwestern!

    • Terry MCMANUS says:

      “Letting off the gas” is NEVER a good idea, especially against a team like Navy. Until the middle of the 4th quarter it was still a 2 possession game, and they just didn’t impress me that much.

      I hope we haven’t seen their best game.

      • So, the first half “didn’t impress (you) much”??? Yes, I agree that the defensive performance in the second half lacked a lot to be desired, but it was a masterpiece in the first half. The team as a whole was out-Navying Navy in terms of TOP and 4th down conversions. At one point, ND was 100% on 4th down at 3-for-3, so I’m not sure how you weren’t impressed by this…. please elaborate