Saturday, November 15, 2008

Notre Dame Outlasts Navy

Baltimore, MD – Navy (6-3) came into Saturday afternoon’s contest at M&T Stadium looking to increase their winning streak over Notre Dame (5-4) to two games. Charlie Weis was looking to get his Fighting Irish back into the national spotlight by taking over the play-calling duties.

After their opening two drives ended in turnovers while being able to move the ball nearly at will, the Notre Dame defense put the Irish on the board first. Mike Anello blocked a Kyle Delahooke punt and Toryan Smith recovered and returned the ball 14 yards for the go ahead score.

Late in the second quarter Cory Finnerty capped off a five-play 58 yard drive for the Midshipmen with a 22 yard TD run. Following an excellent block by TJ Thiel, Finnerty got to the outside and found the end zone for the first time in his career.

Notre Dame got its running attack going in the third quarter and scored on the ground on two drives. Armondo Allen scored on an 11 yard run and Robert Hughes punched one in from seven yards out. At the end of the third quarter, Notre Dame had a commanding24-7 lead.

The fourth quarter belonged to Navy as it has several times this season. After giving up a 36 yard field goal that gave the Irish a 20 point lead, Ricky Dobbs led the Mids offense to a near comeback.

The Navy defense held Notre Dame on a fourth down and took over with 2:30 remaining in the game. A Dobb’s run and pass completion to Tyree Barnes set up a Shun White 24 yard TD run.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were going to win” reminisced Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. “I told the guys we were going to win this game 28-27.”

On the ensuing kickoff the Irish were called for an illegal batting penalty. On Navy’s second try, Corey Johnson recovered the on-side kick at the Notre Dame 41. On the next play, Dobbs hit Barnes on a 40 yard pass play to the Notre Dame one yard line. Two plays later Dobbs punched it in over the left guard.

Notre Dame was called with a roughing the kicker on the extra point. The 15 yard penalty set up the Mids with great field position as Johnson recovered his second on-side kick of the game.

“Once we got the second one I felt in my heart we were going to win,” noted Johnson. “It was almost as if we were meant to score.”

Navy was unable to pull off the miracle win, however as the offense was unable to score on the final drive. Notre Dame held Navy on a 4-13 to seal the win 27-21.

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