Navy comes up short in 38-34 loss to Notre Dame
It looked as if Navy had Notre Dame right where the Midshipmen
Navy was in Notre Dame territory with time ticking away in the
fourth and the Irish having little success stopping the Middies’
But a bad pitch and a fourth-down play that looked good for a
moment but then was shut down by the Irish left Navy with a 38-34
loss on Saturday.
Notre Dame went ahead 38-34 with 3:47 left in the game when
Tarean Folston scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Marcus Turner returned the kickoff 49 yards to the 50 for Navy,
which had all three timeouts. Navy ran the ball four straight plays
for 18 yards and had it second-and-5 from the Notre Dame 32.
”It’s a scenario you want. On the road at Notre Dame, driving
to win the game. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Navy
quarterback Keenan Reynolds said. ”It’s a dream come true.”
But Reynolds, who had run for three touchdowns and thrown for
another, tossed a pitch just out of reach of DeBrandon Sanders.
Sanders fell on the ball at the 41 for a 9-yard loss. Reynolds
completed a 10-yard pass to Casey Bolena to set up a
fourth-and-four. Notre Dame freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith came
up with a big play with help from Eilar Hardy.
Reynolds pitched the ball to Shawn Lynch on a reverse and for a
moment it appeared he had room, but Smith quickly closed the gap
and tackled Lynch for no gain.
”Luckily, Eilar was there to slow the guy down initially, and
then I was there to make the play,” Smith said.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said Navy was a step too slow on the
”We were maybe a step too slow on our mechanics of it,” he
said. ”Normally it should have been a fraction of a second
The Midshipmen ran for 331 yards, 207 in the first half. Navy
had no turnovers, no penalties and held the ball for 37:36 while
the Irish had it just 22:24.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the Irish were fortunate to
pull out the victory.
”They executed flawlessly today,” Kelly said. ”They really
put us in a position where we had to play great in the second
Kelly said he wasn’t disappointed in the win.
”There’s no asterisk next to this one. This is a W. We’re
excited about it,” he said.
Notre Dame (7-2) improved to 11-1 in November in four seasons
under Kelly and clinched its fourth consecutive winning season, the
first time that’s happened since 1995-98. The Irish also keep alive
their hopes for a BCS bowl berth. Navy lost for the third time in
the past four games.
Notre Dame has won its past 10 games decided by a touchdown or
less, tying Kelly with Knute Rockne for the second-longest such
streak in school history. Elmer Layden holds the record with
The bright spot for Notre Dame was the play of freshman running
back Tarean Folston, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard
plunge and rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries, with 116 yards in
the second half. He had rushed for only 116 yards on 22 carries
”There was just a big mess, so I just jumped over,” Folston
said of his TD run.
Notre Dame finished with 506 yards total offense, averaging 9
yards per play, the most for the Irish since 1998. Tommy Rees threw
touchdown passes to TJ Jones and Ben Koyack, George Atkinson III
scored on a 41-yard run and Cam McDaniel added a TD. Rees was
12-of-20 passing for 242 yards with two interceptions. It was the
third time this season Rees has thrown at least two interceptions.
The Irish lost the other two against Michigan and against
Reynolds completed six of nine passes for 88 yards, including
two key passes that gave Navy its final lead. First he threw an
18-yard pass to Marcus Thomas to the Notre Dame 49. After three
running plays, Reynolds then found a wide open Matt Aiken for a
The Midshipmen finished with 419 yards total offense and had 27
first downs, the most ever by a Navy team against Notre dame.
”Coach put together a brilliant game plan. We were able to
execute it on the field and move the ball,” Reynolds said
Chris Swain led Navy with 85 yards Quinton Singleton had 77
Swain said he thought the reverse play would work.
”We were just so close,” he said. ”I thought it was going to
go for a touchdown. I wasn’t thinking they were expecting it.”