With the loss to Miami in the rear-view, and the emotional pre-game Senior Day introductions wrapped up, the Fighting Irish took the field against the Navy Midshipmen looking to send the Irish seniors out with a win in their last game at Notre Dame Stadium.
The Irish took the field wearing throwback uniforms to honor legendary Fighting Irish coach, Knute Rockne, and I have to say, those uniforms are amongst my favorite alternate uniforms the Irish have ever donned; and with Christmas right around the corner, I know what I’m asking for from Santa. But, I digress. As has been the case in recent memory, Notre Dame would find themselves in a close game with the Midshipmen, slugging it out with a tough Navy team before securing the victory late in the fourth quarter. It was a slow start for the Irish, who managed just one field goal in their first three possessions, but the Irish would then put together touchdown scoring drives on three straight possessions to pull ahead of Navy early in the fourth quarter. Navy controlled time of possession throughout the game, controlling the ball for nearly forty-three minutes, including 13:12 of the third quarter, but the Irish defense came up with two huge stops in the fourth quarter to preserve a 24-17 lead, and push their record to 9-2 with a big showdown against Stanford in their regular season finale next week.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – Justin Yoon 29 yard FG. The Irish took their second possession of the game deep into Navy territory, but it stalled out at the 12 yard line following two incomplete passes. Yoon’s field goal gives the Irish a 3-0 lead.
2nd Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 2 yard TD run. The Irish are down by seven with just over a minute left in the half, but thanks to big plays from Stepherson and Claypool, and a Navy pass interference penalty, Wimbush punches it into the end zone to tie up the game at 10-10 going into halftime.
3rd Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 30 yard TD pass to Kevin Stepherson. With Navy taking their opening possession on a nearly eight minute drive for a touchdown, the Irish need a quick answer, and they get it on a drive featuring four runs by Josh Adams, before Wimbush finds Stepherson blowing by a defender for the easy hook-up to tie the game at 17-17.
4th Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 9 yard TD pass to Kevin Stepherson. Following a missed Navy field goal, the Irish take over and mount a 11 play 80 yard touchdown drive to take a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
4th Quarter – Zach Abey pass intercepted by Troy Pride. With Navy driving deep into Irish territory, Abey overthrows his receiver and Pride’s in perfect position to come up with a much needed turnover for the Irish. The resulting Irish drive would burn just 1:25 off the clock, but Navy’s comeback hopes would be dashed on their next possession as a trick pass play on 4 and 5 would fall incomplete, and the Irish would hold on for the 24-17 victory.
Top Fighting Irish Performers
With St. Brown going out early in the game, and Claypool going out late in the first half with injuries, Stepherson stepped into the role as lead receiver and had himself quite a game. Prior to Navy, Stepherson’s most productive game of the season had come just the week before, where he hauled in 3 receptions for 43 yards. Against Navy, Stepherson had a career day, hauling in 5 receptions for 103 yards and 2 TDs, including what would be the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Given how he’d performed in his last two games against Navy (20 total tackles), you knew Martini was due for another big game and he certainly delivered. The senior had his best game of the season, coming up with 15 Total Tackles (7 solo, 8 assisted) to lead the Irish in tackles for the second straight year against Navy.
Troy Pride, Jr.
Pride’s had a bit of a quiet season, but he came up with a big interception in the fourth quarter, his first of the season, to put an end to another grinding Navy possession. Pride finished the game with 6 Total Tackles (4 solo, 2 assisted), 1 TFL, 1 PBU, and 1 Interception.
Next Up: Notre Dame travels to Palo Alto to take on the No. 21 ranked Stanford Cardinal in a prime time match-up starting at 5:00 pm PST (8:00 pm EST).