The scene was set. The Navy Midshipmen traveled to the other side of the country to face off against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in a true David and Goliath Match up. Coach Niumatalolo came into the game saying his team “(Needed) to hit 70% from the three point line and ND needs to miss some layups” in order to even have a chance. The Irish gave Navy some of those missed lay-ups, but the Mids certainly didn’t look like Steph Curry from behind the arc.
Notre Dame’s Myles Boykin fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. It was the 5th forced fumble of the season for Sean Williams which leads the nation and only the 2nd fumble of the year for ND. Navy quickly shot themselves in the foot with a turnover on downs after failing to convert on a 4th and 2.
Notre Dame turned around and easily scored on a 1 yard run by Jafar Armstrong to take the lead 6-0 after Notre Dame kicker Jonathan Doerer missed the PAT.
Navy gave the ball back after three uninspiring minutes and only six plays.
The Irish needed just 4 plays and 1 minute 31 seconds to move 80 yards for a touchdown. The drive was capped with a Dexter Williams 12-yard run TD Run to go up 13-0.
The following Navy drive was stopped with relative ease after a big running play by Tazh Maloy nearly ended in disaster on a fumble, but Navy recovered. They ended up having to punt a few plays later.
The Navy D had a couple of nice defensive plays wiped out when Notre Dame went for it on 4th and 2, in Navy territory, where Michael Young was sitting wide open for the easy completion. Navy dodged a bullet when Ian Book missed a wide-open receiver streaking down field, but Notre Dame would score anyways on a 9-yard Williams TD run going ahead 20-0.
Six minutes later ND would easily score on a two yd TD run by Williams, his third of the game, capping of a ten play drive and putting the Irish up 27-0 just before the half.
The second half was a different story for the Mids. After a 58 yard run by Malcolm Perry, the offense kept it rolling ending with Zach Abey in the end zone for his 9th touchdown of the season to close the gap 27-7.
The Navy Defense had something to say about Notre Dame’s first possession of the second half as well. Although the Irish looked as though they would keep rolling, their drive was stopped short in the red zone and Navy held the Irish to a 30 yard field goal putting ND up 30-7.
The Navy offense kept it going on their second possession of the half with a big pass play from Garret Lewis to Mychal Cooper for 34 yards, which was quickly followed by a bruising 22-yard rush by fullback Anthony Gargiulo. Abey capped off the drive for his 10th rushing score of the season bring the Mids within striking distance 30-14.
After some sketchy officiating on the next ND drive, the Irish continued to work through the Navy D and grind the clock, beating Navy at their own game. They capped the drive with a Myles Boykin TD, putting them up 37-14, and providing a little redemption for the receiver who started the game with a fumble.
Navy would fail to produce on their next offensive possession but the offense was bailed out by a Notre Dame interception by Navy’s Jacob Springer. It was only the fourth INT of the year for Book.
The Mids capitalized with a huge 33 Yard Touchdown Run by Mike Martin; followed by a two point conversion for Navy on a pass from Abey to OJ Davis to make it a 2 score game 37-22 Notre Dame.
The Navy Defense came up big several times, only to have their efforts thwarted by even bigger moments for Notre Dame on the ensuing drive, which ended in yet another Irish touchdown 44-22, another TD reception for Boykin.
The Navy offense started to roll again before a botched pitch between Garrett Lewis and Mike Martin resulted in a turnover which gave the Irish the football back, but they were actually stopped by the Navy D and forced to punt for only the second time in the game.
As the Mids were in a last ditch effort to get back in the game, they saw a 13 play drive end with a Jalen Elliott interception in the end zone.
The rest of the affair was uneventful, other than to say the Mids never gave up and continued to grind. They weren’t able to produce anything, but the fact that they were able to move the ball despite the inevitable outcome was a look into the character of this team.
Navy is in a must-win situation every game now if they want to make it to a bowl game. The Mids schedule doesn’t get much easier next week, though, as they head to Ohio to face Cincinnati. The Bearcats are 7-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Temple.
After that, they get another top ten matchup against undefeated UCF in Orlando.