Report Card: Navy vs. Notre Dame

Navy played their most complete game of the year dominating Notre Dame in a surprisingly easy 35-17 win at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Navy opened the game with a terrific defensive goal line stand to stuff the Irish on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Navy then drove 99 yards for a touchdown. The Mids proceeded to score touchdowns on five of their first six possessions.

The victory is the third in four years over Notre Dame after four decades of futility. The win improves Navy's record to 5-2.




Notre Dame


Ricky Dobbs completed both of his pass attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown. Navy dominated on the ground and rarely needed to pass. Dobbs showed great pocket presence as he held the ball and drew Notre Dame's front line towards him on the 31-yard touchdown screen pass to Alexander Teich. Teich made a terrific catch on the high throw and his leaping spin into the end zone will remain as one of the highlights from this series for years to come. That touchdown pass following the goal line stand was a tremendous momentum boost. Dobbs other pass was 40-yard completion to Greg Jones on third-and-6 from midfield to open the second half. Ricky threw the ball over the wrong shoulder but Jones made a terrific adjustment catching the ball. Ivan Jasper used a wide receiver option pass that had been dormant in playbook for years on the second drive. Greg Jones under threw a wide open Aaron Santiago for what would have been a sure touchdown pass. It didn't matter since ND's safety Harrison Smith was forced to interfere with Santiago which set up the Mids second touchdown.
Navy ran for 367 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Notre Dame was unable to stop the fullback all day. B back Alexander Teich nearly doubled his rushing yards for the year as he ran wild. Teich rushed for 210 yards on 26 carries. His career long run of 54 yards on the first series got the Mids out of the shadow of their own end zone. Ricky Dobbs did a masterful job directing the offense and missed only a few reads during the game. He carried 20 times for 92 yards and scored three touchdowns Dobbs tied Chris McCoy as Navy's career leader in touchdowns with 43. Slot back Gee Gee Greene ran eight times for 56 yards and a touchdown. Greene looked like the second coming of Billy Sims as he stiffed armed Carlo Calabrese, tight roped the sideline and dove past Harrison Smith to reach the ball over the pylon to score just before the end of the first half. The offensive line dominated the Irish front line at the point of attack. Center Brady DeMell badly outplayed Irish nose guard Ian Williams. DeMell along with guards Josh Cabral and John Dowd created gaps you could drive a truck through as the Irish were unable to get off the Mids blocks. The perimeter blocking by the wide receivers was outstanding. Sophomore Brandon Turner doesn't often appear on the stat sheet but the 6-4, 208 pound receiver does a terrific job blocking.
Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist completed 19 of 31 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown pass against two interceptions. Early in the game the quality of Navy's coverage showed as Crist had to scramble three times the first two series. Jabaree Tuani and Billy Yarborough did a good job creating pressure so the Mids could drop into coverage and not be forced to blitz. Tuani and Yarborough teamed up on a sack on fourth down in the third quarter that ended all Irish fans hopes for a comeback. Kwesi Mitchell had a terrific game in coverage. Mitchell had two tackles, broke up a pass in the end zone and his interception on Notre Dame's first drive of the second made it clear this was a Navy day. Mitchell showed a terrific closing burst on the ball he intercepted. Wyatt Middleton had another great game against the Irish with seven tackles and a pass defended. Outside linebacker Aaron McCauley, six tackles, was beaten on a post route by T.J. Jones for a 16-yard touchdown when he was caught in a mismatch with the slot receiver on a third and 14 play. Kevin Edwards, 3 tackles, did an excellent job in coverage all game. De'Von Richardson, playing in place of the injured Emmett Merchant, had a break out game with five tackles and an interception. Richardson's pick before the end of the half was the key play in the game setting up Greene's touchdown with 14 seconds left. ND quarterback Tommie Rees threw for 70 yards off the bench but by that time the game had been decided.
The Mids allowed 43 yards rushing the first series but only 63 yards the rest of the game. The fourth down goal stop on the opening drive was the result of the high/low tag team of Tyler Simmons and Jared Marks. Inside linebacker Tyler Simmons led the Midshipmen with ten tackles. Nose tackle Chase Burge was extremely active and had six tackles. Unlike past games the Irish where unable to impose their size advantage over the Mids up front to run the ball consistently. Notre Dame only averaged 3.5 per rushing attempt.
Kyle Delahooke had a good game as he averaged 39 yards on his three punts and placed two inside the 20 allowing no return yardage. Delahooke's 44-yard punt that was downed at the three yard line pinned ND deep and led to Greene's touchdown run. After struggling all year the special teams kickoff coverage was excellent allowing only 20.5 yards a return. Jon Teague hit all five extra points and didn't have to attempt a field goal with Joe Buckley out. Darius Staten the 5-6, 190 pound freshman slot back was used on kickoff returns. Staten, who was an effective kick returner at NAPS last year, returned three kickoffs for 46 yards. Punt returner Gary Myers did a nice job fielding a bouncing punt that probably would have rolled an additional 20 yards.
Offensive coordinator Ivan Jasper used the heavy formation with great success. Jasper used double teams to create mismatches inside as the Irish over pursued the pitch back to create some huge running lanes. Buddy Green's defense followed the SMU template of rushing four and taking away ND's quick strike capability. Crist's longest pass completion of the day was 21 yards. Ken Niumatalolo is now 2-1 against Notre Dame. The staff did a nice job improving the kickoff coverage. A lot was made of ND's receivers being injured but Navy was missing six starters from the opener (Murray, Schupp, Malloy, Bothel, Merchant, Buckley). Navy's ability to adapt and overcome is a tribute to Ken Niumatalolo's and this staff's success recruiting and developing players.
A total team win. I predicted in the pre game matchup that I thought Navy would win. However, I never thought I would see Navy dominate Notre Dame the way they did. As Ricky Dobbs said in the post game, "It was amazing, very close to perfection."

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