No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Avoid Upset Bid, Beat Navy 49-39


The Navy Midshipman have made a habit in the past ten years or so of giving the No.6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish everything they can handle. They didn’t let them down tonight, pushing them to the very end in a 49-39 defeat.

Out of the gate, it appeared the Irish (7-1) were going to run away with this one, but the Middies (4-5) had other ideas. Notre Dame was stuffed on their first play of the game, but followed that with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Everett Golson to C.J. Prosise for a quick 7-0 lead.

As usual, Navy’s triple-option gave the Irish fits while burning up the clock. It’s rare for them to pass, but when they do they make it count. Keenan Reynolds connnected with Thomas Wilson for a 26-yard TD pass to tie the game at 7-7. It appeared that Wilson got away with an offfensive pass interference, which after the game two weeks ago likely had Irish fans scratching their heads.

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Notre Dame responded with two consecutive scores. First, Golson connected with Ben Koyack on a two-yard TD to put the Irish up 14-7. After forcing the Middies to punt, the Irish jumped up by 14 as Golson scrambled left, stumbled, then faked the pass to freeze the defender and score from five yards out.

Notre Dame looked as if they would put the game away before the second half was over, as Golson connected for his third TD pass, a four-yard bubble screen to William Fuller. With the Irish up 28-7, the game looked well in-hand.

Navy would cut into the Irish lead with an 18-yard touchdown run from Demond Brown. With 2:30 left to play, it was more than enough time for the Irish to respond.

With Notre Dame driving, it looked as if the Irish would at least be able to tack on three more. But a miscommunication between Golson and his receiver led to an interception. Navy was able to turn that into a field goal at the end of the half to make it a 28-17 game.

After finishing the first half with all the momentum, Navy used that to dominate the third quarter. A 13-yard TD run from Geoffrey Whiteside, followed by a four-yard score from Chris Swain; the Middies took their first lead of the game at 31-28.

Down by three, the Irish were going to need Golson to step up, and that he did. After leading them down to the three, he scooted in from three yards out for his fifth touchdown of the game and his second on the ground to put ND up 35-31.

After a quick three-and-out by Navy, the Irish made quick work of the defense, ending with a 25-yard TD run from Tarean Folston, who finished with 149 yards, his third straight 100+ yard performance. Down 11 with a little over 12 minutes to play, Navy needed a quick score, not something they are known for. But after nearly 55 minutes of the triple-option, the Irish defense looked gassed, and Navy never let up.

A 12-yard TD pass from Reynolds to Swain, followed by a two-point conversion cut it to a three point game. Navy opted to go for the onside kick, which a fortuitos hop bounced right to Prosise, giving the Irish the ball in great field position. After a unlucky night in Tallahassee two weeks ago, the Irish had a little go their way, as Golson fumbled the ball as he went to hand it to Folston. He picked it up, skirted up the middle and scored the eight-yard touchdown, his sixth overall of the night to help put away the Midshipmen in the 49-39 victory.

Golson finished the game 18/24 for 315 yards, three TDs andd 1 interception. He added three rushing scores on nine attempts and 33 yards. Noah Copeland, the Middies fullback, didn’t get any glamorous stats like touchdowns, but was a workhorse in the triple-option with 138 yards on 16 attempts, an 8.6 AVG.

The biggest blow of the night for the Irish was the loss of their defensive leader, Joe Schmidt. He left the game in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury. He didn’t return, and was seen on crutches in the second half.

With four games left on the schedule, and a very good Arizona State team up next, the Irish need to take care of business and run the table on their remaining opponents. Very similar to their BCS run in 2012, they need to win out, and let the SEC teams slowly eliminate each other from the picture. Georgia helped by losing today. But we don’t need any more games like this. Time to put the pieces together from this sloppy win and get ready for Arizona State next week.

Go Irish!