The Notre Dame Fighting Irish continued their dominance against Navy as they routed the Midshipmen on Saturday by a score of 52-17. The Irish scored on the first possession of the game and were never challenged by a team that entered the game with a 7-1 record and was ranked 22nd in the polls. The victory improves Notre Dame’s season record to 8-2, continues their spotless mark at home, and keeps them in contention for a major bowl berth.
Below are critical observations from the game:
While Navy’s defense entered this game as a suspect entity, it’s doubtful that Notre Dame was expecting how easy it would be to blow the game open. On each of their six drives during the first half, the Irish managed to put points on the board, a situation that allowed them to coast with a 38-3 lead once play resumed in the third quarter.
The bulk of the yardage gained by Notre Dame came through the air during this battering, with Ian Book throwing for four touchdowns in the first 20 minutes of action. Book ended the half with 11 completions in 14 attempts for 209 yards and also ran for 31 yards. His longest scoring toss came on on a 70-yard scoring grab to Braden Lenzy, with Book throwing for another score in the second half and finishing with 284 yards.
Capitalizing on opposing mistakes is always something that improves the chances for a victory, and Notre Dame took full advantage of Navy’s four fumbles by converting them into 28 of their 52 points on the afternoon. The first of these came with the Irish holding a 7-0 lead, and after the Midshipmen’s opening drive ended with a Notre Dame fumble recovery. Two plays later turned into the first of four touchdown tosses from Book to Chase Claypool.
After getting prime field position after the second fumble, the Irish needed just four plays to boost their advantage to 21-0. With just under five minutes left in the first half and Notre Dame now leading 31-0, a fumble recovery at the Navy 24 led to Notre Dame’s final score of the first half. Finally, with less than 30 seconds gone in the final quarter, the Irish needed no offensive plays after Paul Moala scooped up a fumble and dashed 27 yards for the last Irish score.
Chase Claypool Delivers Again
Entering the 2019 season, Notre Dame’s coaching staff was hoping that Chase Claypool would finally emerge as the team’s go-to receiver. That wish has come true, with the 6-foot-5 Claypool snagging seven passes for 117 yards and finding the end zone four times. That gives the big man 49 catches on the year, one away from matching his 2018 output.
Those four scores helped put Claypool in the Irish history books, matching the 2005 performance of Maurice Stovall against BYU. His size came in handy against the smallish Navy defenders and continues his strong November performance that’s seen him haul in 20 passes for 332 yards in the three Notre Dame wins.
Garbage Time Illusion
Merely looking at most of the statistics in the Notre Dame-Navy game without knowing the score would give an observer a false impression of the Irish’s 42-point win that was over in the second quarter. That’s because Navy ended up with more first downs, held onto the ball for over 35 minutes and collected 360 yards of offense, including 281 on their traditionally dominant running game.
At halftime, the Midshipmen had only 151 yards of offense, with 46 of those yards coming on a single play in the final minute of the second quarter. Quarterback Malcolm Perry’s 46-yard dash helped set up the lone first-half Navy score on a 27-yard field goal at the gun. Of course, one look at the turnover category helps wipe away the illusion, with Navy’s four fumbles compared to a spotless day in that category for the Irish.
Like five of Notre Dame’s last six opponents, the Boston College Eagles will be coming off a bye week when they travel to face the Irish next Saturday. During much of this season, the Eagles have traded wins and losses, something that helps explain why they’ll enter this game with a 5-5 overall record and have split their four road contests.
The Irish hold a 15-9 advantage in this series that dates back to 1975 and has been marked by streaky success during the 21st Century. At present, the Irish will be looking for their seventh consecutive win over Boston College after the Eagles had won the previous six matchups. After three road trips to face BC, Notre Dame will be hosting a contest for the first time since 2011.