With Notre Dame looking for their first back-to-back wins this season, the Irish come up just short as they fall to Navy, 28-27.
Yes, 2016 has been such a disheartening season that even the smallest of bright spots, like say a two game win streak, seems unattainable for the Fighting Irish. There have been highs and lows throughout the season, but losing to Navy, with just two second half possessions, may be the lowest. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Irish were jobbed, or screwed, or however you want to phrase it, by the 12 men on the field penalty that never should have been called, that the replay booth didn’t even have the power to make since no penalty had even been called on the field, was a major turning point in the game, but the fact is that the Irish, on what would turn out to be their last possession of the game, had a chance to take the lead, and they blew it. And, you can point the finger at Kizer, too, for throwing a wide open receiver in the end zone for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown, but here too, a bad play was compounded by a bad decision by Coach Kelly, who, instead of going for it on a manageable 4th Down, decided to take the field goal to close to within 1 point of the Midshipmen, and put the game on the shoulders of his defense.
What happened after that was all too predictable, and a Navy offense that had to be tasting victory at that point mounted a nine minute drive against a tired Notre Dame defense to run out the clock, and seal the win for Navy. Disheartening, demoralizing, and utterly maddening. In other words, Notre Dame’s season in a nutshell.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – DeShone Kizer 26 yard TD pass to Torii Hunter. The Irish take another opening drive in for a touchdown, this time on a 10 play 83 yard drive that gave the Irish the early 7-0 lead.
2nd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 8 yard TD pass to Durham Smythe. On just their fourth drive of the first half, the Irish close out the half with a touchdown to retake the lead 17-14.
3rd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 13 yard TD pass to Equanimeous St. Brown. St. Brown takes Kizer’s pass and goes airborne to reach the end zone and give the Irish a 24-21 lead.
3rd Quarter – Notre Dame 12 men on the field penalty. The Irish got a big defensive stop, and would have gotten the ball back, with the lead, but it doesn’t matter as they’re called for a 12 men on the field penalty, not by the officials on the field, but by the replay officials who shouldn’t have even been reviewing a call where no flag was thrown. The end result of the penalty that shouldn’t have been was, predictably, the continuation of the Midshipmen drive that would eventually take a full nine minutes off the clock, and a touchdown that would give Navy a 28-24 lead.
4th Quarter – DeShone Kizer pass incomplete to Torii Hunter in the end zone. Kizer badly overthrows a wide open Hunter in the end zone, and two plays later the Irish inexplicably settle for a field goal to move to within one point of Navy, 28-27.
Final Score: Notre Dame 27 – Navy 28
Top Fighting Irish Performers
Torii Hunter/ Equanimeous St. Brown
For the second straight game, both Hunter and St. Brown reach pay dirt for the Irish. Hunter and Brown would make big plays, and have big days, accounting for 166 combined yards and 2 TDs, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Irish, as just three other players had receptions against Navy, for a total of just 57 combined yards.
After suffering a concussion early in the previous week’s game against Miami, Martini’s availability against Navy was in question. Fortunately for the Irish, Martini passed his concussion protocol, and turned in a season best performance against the Midshipmen. Martini led the Irish in tackles with 11 (4 solo, 7 assisted) and 1 TFL.
Next Up: The Irish travel to San Antonio to take on Arm in the Shamrock Series at 3:30 EST (12:30 PST).