Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Navy Report Card: Notre Dame

Navy fell to Notre Dame 41-24 on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler grades the Mids performance in several key team areas.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish jumped out to a 21-7 after the Navy Midshipmen opened the game with a touchdown. Navy rallied to tie the score at 21 late in the second quarter on two touchdown runs by  fullback Quentin Ezell following quarterback Keenan Reynolds leaving the game with a leg injury. Navy's prevent defense allowed Notre Dame a 52-yard field goal by Justin Yoon to close the first half with a 24-21 lead.  On the opening second-half kickoff Dishan Romine fumbled and Notre Dame's Devin Butler recovered. The Fighting Irish scored a touchdown and after Navy missed a field goal they added another touchdown to extend to a 17 point lead. Both teams added field goals as the Irish won 41-24 in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.  The loss ended Navy's eight-game winning streak.

PASSING OFFENSE: C

Keenan Reynolds completed 2-of-4 passes for 16 passing yards. Reynolds only attempted two passes in the first half before he was hurt and left the game. He missed his first throw under pressure. He was sacked on his last pass attempt of the first half. In the second half drive Reynolds threw three times to Jamir Tillman (2 rec., 16 yards) and completed two. On third-and-12 Reynolds completed an eleven yard pass to Jamir and the offense picked up the first down on the next play to keep the drive alive. Tago Smith was 1-of-2 passing for 6 yards with an interception. He completed a pass to Thomas Wilson. Smith took a shot at the end zone on a post to Tillman but failed to put enough air under it and it was picked off.  The Mids offensive line struggled in pass protection.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B+

Navy ran for 318 rushing yards, a 6.5 average and scored three rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran 15 times for 110 yards. Reynolds injury changed the complexion of the game even though Tago Smith played well. Reynolds 51-yard run to open the game was followed two plays later by Toneo Gulley's 13-yard touchdown run gave the Mids a 7-0 lead. When he ran the offense Tago Smith showed good speed running nine times for 47 yards.

B-back Chris Swain had 15 carries for 59 yards and a huge dropped pitch for a fumble that handed the Irish a touchdown. In fairness to Swain he did actually recover the fumble but wasn't given credit for as it was ripped out of his arms. Fellow fullback Quentin Ezell (6 att., 75 yards, 2 TDs) scored twice ripping off second quarter touchdown runs of 45 and 22 yards. Demond Brown ran nine yards for a first down.  DeBrandon Sanders (2 for 5) had a 6-yard run on the opening touchdown drive. 

PASSING DEFENSE: C

ND quarterback DeShone Kizer completed 22 of 30 passes for 281 yards with a touchdown and was picked off once. Navy did post two sacks. Navy's secondary had a rough time matching up with Irish speed but they battled all game.

Cornerback Brandon Clements (7 tackles, INT) jumped the route and picked off a pass to allow Navy to set up a touchdown that allowed Navy to tie the score. He did a nice job running explosive Will Fuller out of the back of the end zone on an incomplete pass. Clements almost was credited for a great play when he avoided a block and sent running back Adams flying and recovered what looked to be a fumble but he was correctly ruled down.

Cornerback Quincy Adams (6 tackles) allowed some passes in front of him but laid the lumber a few times. Lorentez Barbour and Daiquan Tomasson struggled a bit to cover the Irish over the middle as the Irish converted 7-of-12 third down plays.

Linebacker Josiah Powell posted five tackles and a sack to force a punt. He was the last line of defense on Fuller's 30-yard touchdown reception as he ran free through the Navy zone on a scramble play but Josiah couldn't bring him down. Bernie Sarra had a silly roughing the passer penalty when everyone could see the ball was gone. It helped sustain a Notre Dame scoring drive to make it 21-7.  D.J. Palmore (9 tackles, 1/2 sack) and Micah Thomas (4 tackles, 1/2 a sack. PD) teamed up for a sack. The Mids tried to dial up the pressure in second half but even when they sent five the Irish were usually able to pick it up.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C+

The Mids allowed the Irish 178 rushing yards, 4.4 yards a carry and four touchdowns. The Mids hung tough on defense but the turnovers and C.J. Prosise brilliance made it difficult to get stops after a good start. The Mids would often seem to have an angle on Prosise but his speed and moves allowed him to break free. Dan Gonzalez made eight tackles. Will Anthony had a quiet six tackles. Amos Mason had five tackles and one for a loss. The Irish offensive line benefited from a few holding calls in space on touchdown drives that weren't called by the referees. Kevin McCoy had a dumb personal foul penalty when he flipped an Irish running back trying to wrestle the ball long after the whistle. The defense was hurt by the two turnovers by Navy deep in their own end which resulted in two touchdowns. 

 SPECIAL TEAMS: D

Kicker Austin Grebe ended his perfect streak of field goals as he just missed from 44-yards out and hit from 40-yards. He had one touchback on five kickoffs. Punter Alex Barta averaged 44.5 yards on his two punts and placed one inside the twenty yard line. He badly missed the coffin corner on a punt that resulted in a touchback.

Kick returner Dishan Romine fumbled at the 26 to open the second half and Devin Butler recovered to give the Irish a cheap touchdown and a 31-21 lead. The next kickoff he returned 58-yards but the ensuing drive ended in a missed field goal.  Navy's coverage teams did an excellent job.

 COACHING: B+

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff had the team well prepared but as he stated in the post-game, "We had some penalties, some turnovers, some missed assignments, that normally we're pretty clean on those phases," Niumatalolo said. "Against a good team like Notre Dame, that spells disaster. That's what happened to us."

 Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper called another good game against ND running for 6.5 yards a carry but the turnovers and the injury to Reynolds were killers. DalePehrson's defensive scheme was sound but penalties and the prevent defense before the half when Kelly was looking to run out the clock and ended up with a 24-21 halftime lead hurt.  

OVERALL GRADE: C+

The Mids played hard but two turnovers deep in their own end were killers and handed the Irish 14 points. As head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in the postgame, "We knew we had to play perfect again these guys and it was probably our worst game this season." It was; and it ended Navy's eight game winning streak.  


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