"This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen." I kept saying that famous Rudy quote under my breath during the final moments of Navy's improbable destruction of Notre Dame. After all, I wasn't in
I was in
So forgive me for not getting too overly excited on Saturday when Navy scored first, led 14-3, or even when the score was 21-10 at halftime. I had seen that act before in person. I actually have taken pictures of the scoreboard in
Even at 28-10, I had run through the scenario in my head of how Notre Dame could easily get back into the game. All-everything wide receiver Michael Floyd would come off the bench in dramatic fashion and catch an 85-yard pass from Dayne Crist to cut the score to 28-17. An onsides kick recovery later, and the Irish would be in business again. The pro-Notre Dame crowd would finally have gotten into the game, and on the first play of the fourth quarter, on a broken play and with Jabaree Tuani dragging him to the earth, Crist could find a 6'8" tight end in the back of the end zone being covered by three Navy defenders seemingly half his height. Of course the pass would somehow miss the Midshipmen defenders and land in this freshman from
Fortunately, by the time I had run this nightmare scenario through my head about five times, in reality, Navy's Kwesi Mitchell had just stepped in front of another Crist pass to give the Mids the ball again with 9:56 left to play in the third quarter. And miraculously, this was still the most beautiful sight these eyes had ever seen.
But come on already, Navy hadn't committed a penalty all day. Surely these Big East officials would have tuned into the Notre Dame Radio broadcast by now and heard the cries for a chop block call (allegedly – since I wasn't listening). After all Navy hadn't had a penalty free game since 2002. And what about a turnover: Wasn't it time for Navy to cough the ball up at least once? Navy always seems to have at least one turnover against the Irish. And I don't think they have ever had a penalty AND turnover free game in the history of the program. (May need some help with that stat.)So something was about to give, right? Wrong…Navy drove 73 yards for another score…now it was 35-10…but there was still too much time left to get complacent. With over four minutes left to play, I was still in full paranoid mode.
Why you ask? It's simple.
I started thinking about last year's game against Notre Dame. That drive they had at the end of the game against Navy's prevent offense was pretty quick. So I go back and look it up. Sure enough, the Irish went 66 yards in 3 plays in 36 seconds! Their two other touchdown drives last season against the Mids looked like this: 19 plays, 170 yards in 5:45. So in just over six minutes, they scored 21 points. And most of the damage was done by Floyd…who I was convinced was still going to enter the game.
The Irish finally started to make my nightmare scenario transpire. On their ensuing drive it took them three plays to go 39 yards and advance to Navy's 35 yard line. And after six plays (three of them runs which signaled to me that they weren't panicking yet), the Irish had a first down at the 24-yard line.
That's when Navy's defense did what they have seemingly done all season. They stopped an opponent just as they were about to get into the red zone.
First Down: Incomplete Pass.
Second Down: Incomplete Pass.
Third Down: Incomplete Pass.
Fourth Down: Sack.
And with that it finally hit me that I was going to see Navy beat Notre Dame, in person, for the first time ever. Of course I was in the press box, so I had to keep it professional. But let me just say that in my head, I was figuring out how I would have stormed the field if I was still a midshipman. The walls surrounding the field at the New Meadowlands Stadium seemed easy enough to scale down, especially for agile future officers who maneuver around those obstacle courses all the time. So this would be easy.
But as the fourth quarter ticked away, and Notre Dame fans walked away, the lack of enthusiasm amongst those still in attendance was mind boggling to me. Sure Navy fans were excited, but their excitement was far from the pandemonium that I expected. I could even see pockets of the Brigade sitting down with a minute left in the game. What's going on?!?!?!?! I know about 90% of them were just like me and had never seen Navy beat Notre Dame. They should be going nuts! Even on the Navy sideline, I saw some small hugs and a few high-fives…but where was the massive celebration?
Had beating Notre Dame become old hat for Navy and its fans? Apparently so. Don't get me wrong; this small detail, in what was an amazing afternoon in
Of course now that the victory over Notre Dame is in the rearview mirror, some fans will wonder how that same Navy team they saw at the Meadowlands, lost to
Others will be wondering how high Navy will be ranked if they win out.
The paranoid ones like me will remember what happened in the game following the last two victories over Notre Dame. In 2007, Navy trailed
And to boot, it's Homecoming – an atmosphere that has been less than friendly to Navy in recent years. The Mids have dropped three of their last four Homecoming contests in
Maybe it's a good thing there wasn't too much celebrating after the Notre Dame win because the Mids will have their hands full this Saturday against a Duke team that won't be seeing the triple option for the first time this season.