Irish Torpedo Navy

Led by quarterback Ian Book, wideout Chase Claypool and defensive end Khalid Kareem, Notre Dame started fast and dominated an overmatched Navy team by 52-20 on Saturday. Book connected with Claypool for four touchdowns and added a fifth to Braden Lenzy with a beautiful 75-yard rocket. Tony Jones ran for a score and Paul Moala added a defensive touchdown when he literally stole a pitch in midair by the Midshipmen.

The Fighting Irish raced to a 38-3 halftime advantage by scoring on every possession and stopping Navy’s rushing attack in its tracks. The first of two forced fumbles by Kareem stopped the Middies’ first drive after Notre Dame had taken a quick 7-0 lead, and his second big play fueled a critical sequence in which the Irish scored 28 points on just eight offensive snaps. Yet another fumble late in the second period set up Jones’ touchdown.

Claypool hauls in one of his four touchdowns

Navy could not mount a drive to open the third quarter, and Book quickly picked up where he left off. After scrambling to find Lawrence Keys for 27 yards and then hitting Chris Finke for 28, Book found Claypool for his fourth and final touchdown catch. The 20-yarder stretched the lead to 45-3 with ten minutes still remaining in the period. Coach Brian Kelly elected to clear his bench and Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo followed suit.

Backup quarterback Perry Olsen ran for one touchdown and threw for another against the Irish reserves to make the final score somewhat more respectable. Those plays sandwiched the final points for Notre Dame by Moala, who snagged a pitch by Olsen in the Navy backfield and waltzed in for a 27-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter to make it 52-10.

Book finished with 284 passing yards on 14 completions in 20 attempts. He had a clean pocket on most occasions and stepped into his passes. One of his best throws of the game, however, occurred when he was forced to scramble to his left but was able to deliver a bullet to Keys near the sideline on a third and long play. The deep post to Lenzy was other worldly, though. Book stood in the pocket and fired a perfect strike that hit the sophomore speedster in stride. The pass traveled over 50 yards in the air.

The complete domination by Notre Dame follows a strong game against Duke, and should give the team confidence that it has turned the corner after an embarrassing outing against Michigan and a shaky one point home victory over Virginia Tech. The 8-2 Irish will host Boston College on Senior Day next week before finishing ghe regular season at Stanford.

Let’s review the answers to our pregame questions:

Can the Irish defense hold containment on the edges to stop the pitch play? The first team defense did a fine job of containment before Navy finally made a few plays on the edge in the fourth quarter.

Will Tony Jones and Notre Dame’s patchwork offensive line ignite the running game? Navy called several run blitzes and tried to single cover the Irish receivers, so most of Notre Dame’s big plays were through the air. The Irish ran for only 105 yards, but it hardly mattered. Jones was outstanding in blitz pickup, which allowed Book sufficient time to find open targets.

Can the Irish get off to a fast start and play the game with the lead? Ummm, yeah.

Will Navy surprise the Irish with successful trick plays? Not at all. Navy tried to play it straight, and it didn’t work out well for them.

Can Notre Dame’s special teams have a positive impact? Chris Finke excited the crowd with a meandering 62-yard punt return for a touchdown, but it was called back for an illegal block that would not have mattered on the play. Jonathan Doerer drilled his only field goal attempt, a 32-yard effort.

Will the Irish defenders keep Navy well below its 358-yard rushing average? The Midshipmen finished with 281 yards on the ground, but nearly half of them came against the Irish reserves, walk-ons, team managers and cheerleaders.

Which team will best take care of the ball and avoid costly penalties? Notre Dame was turnover free and had only 15 yards in penalties, while Navy’s four turnovers resulted in 28 Irish points.

This was a complete team victory for Notre Dame. Although Claypool was the clear offensive MVP, it was refreshing to see solid contributions from Keys, Lenzy and Finke. Book has also elevated his performance considerably since engineering the game winning drive against Virginia Tech. Although the level of competition is not daunting, the Irish can write a better ending to the story of this season by continuing to play this well three more times.

Tell John what you think in the comments section below

22 thoughts on “Irish Torpedo Navy

  1. nice win over undermanned opponent! should finish 10-2 which will be a milestone if Kelly can beat Stanford on
    the road/ He is 0-4 v. Stanford on the road!

    • Aaron Koproski says:

      No reason why we shouldn’t beat the crap out of the EAGLES next week!!!! None!!! Senior Day! Get ‘ R Done!! ☘️🏈💪

      Thank you Navy for saving our beloved Notre Dame…..forever grateful!!!! Good luck with the rest of the season!


  2. WOW! What a game! Book was slinging it, the D was pumped up and the special teams was great as well! All around great game. Loved to see how Tony Jones picked up the block at least 4 times on blitzes and how Book is getting his swagger back. He lead his receivers in the open on several throws and made a beautiful in stride pass to Lenzy! The defense was ready for the option and the turnovers were a welcome site! Kahlid is a force and he shot the gap and made some big plays. The speed on defense was there today as they made big play after big play! On to Senior Day! GO IRISH!

  3. Every once in a while you get surprised in a good way. This was such a complete domination. Book’s passes were almost all perfectly placed. Let’s get to 10 wins and a NY6 bowl win to salvage this season.

  4. This is how I remember Navy vs. Notre Dame for many decades in my youth. It should be clear to ND what a real defensive coordinator like Clark Lea can do against an always completely over matched Navy squad. Did I finally wake up from the Navy nightmare? Were those years just a bad dream?

    • Come on Austinirish, put a sock in it regarding the game vs Michigan…..enjoy the win and the fact that ND is playing great football right now……

      • Yeah, Austinirish should know that ND would be undefeated if not for those two tough road games on the schedule.

        • Hey John,
          Poking a little fun at my response…..that’s fine……remember after the Michigan game you thought that Phil would give ND the best chance to win……I really hope you realize how off target you were with that statement……anyway, go Irish beat BC……

          • It’s Navy, Joe. We may not get to see another true test until a bowl game, if then. You can flap your gums and your keyboard when we beat an elite team.

        • JV: The Obvious was underscoring your sarcasm. Just like the Irish in those 2 games! The Obvious loves nuance.

  5. Hey Kevin! I’ll be waiting for that analysis that led you to believe that ND would only score 14 against the vaunted Navy defense.

      • const WRONG = 0;

        If (analysis == “Ian Book”) {
        analysis = WRONG;

        QB Ian Book totaled 139 rushing yards at Duke, leading the Irish and making him the first player in program history with four passing touchdowns and at least 100 rushing yards in a single game. His rushing total was the third-highest by an Irish quarterback since 1996. The last Irish quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards was Brandon Wimbush vs. Wake Forest in 2017 (110).

      • Since QB’s seem to get fundamentally and statistically worse the longer they’re in Kelly’s system having Book for a third year doesn’t confer much of an advantage.

  6. This was a good win but ND should have won in convincing fashion. The post Michigan schedule isn’t exactly murderers row, so people should limit their praise and not assume the problems we saw at Michigan are behind us and that suddenly ND is baaack. The only way we’ll know is if ND plays a top 15 opponent in a bowl game and if ND has the same issues as they had against Georgia and Michigan then all of these pretty wins against FBS doormats will just be a mirage.