Notre Dame defeated Navy 38-34 in messy fashion on a messy field and kept their BCS hopes alive for one more week. It was a win that Coach Brian Kelly refused to qualify in his post-game comments, noting how tough it is to overcome a flawlessly executed triple option. It was a win, too, in which freshman running back Tarean Folston exploded out of the backfield stable in the second half and established himself as a needed threat in the season’s home-stretch.
The Middies executed a terrific game plan, rushing for 331 yards. Navy did not turn the ball over and had no penalties on the day. Navy’s quarterback Keenan Reynolds found advantage through the air in the Fourth Quarter, picking up thirty-four of Navy’s eighty-eight total passing yards on a dagger strike to Matt Aiken and a touchdown to take the lead 34-31. It was, though, a critical flub on second-and-five on the Notre Dame thirty-four that ultimately gave the game to the Irish.
The muffed pitch resulted in a nine-yard loss. Trailing 34-38, the Middies passed for ten yards on third down, setting up a fourth and four. Navy ran a reverse to the left, appeared to have the defense fooled, but Notre Dame’s freshman phenom Jaylon Smith exploded into the picture and corralled Navy’s Shawn Lynch for no gain. ND took over on downs and ran out the clock.
Tommy Rees had some tough moments to go with his high-light material, which included pretty touches to TJ Jones and Ben Koyack. DaVaris Daniels and CJ Prosise had nice grabs, too. Corey Robinson, The Admiral’s son, did his best USS Zumwalt impersonation. Tommy had two picks on the day, one of which resulted in a Navy scoring drive. (Author’s note: when I wrote this post Sunday morning, Robinson was listed as Did Not Play. See the Comments, below).
It was the Irish running backs, and Folston in particular, who were the real story. GAIII jogged for thirty-three yards on the opening kick off and scored a touchdown on a forty-one yard run for ND’s first score. Illustrative of his second-half performance were Folston’s runs of 15, 15 and 14 yards in a single drive in the fourth quarter. He had a leaping one yard touchdown after almost scoring on the previous play to cap the day.
Injuries hit the Irish hard, who started the day without Big Lou in the middle. By the end of the game, Kona Schwenke, Sheldon Day and Ben Councell had joined him on the sidelines. Schwenke, it bears noting, had a huge day with eleven tackles, setting up Jaylon Smith for a huge tackle for loss on one particularly terrific play. Coach Kelly had little information post-game on the players’ status, though he referred to the locker room as “a triage.”
In any event, it was a win and another step closer to a BCS-berth. With Texas Tech and Michigan (hahahahahahahahahaha) picking up their third losses on the season, the Irish should rise in the BCS standings, where they sat at twenty-five going into Saturday.
Here are the highlights:
- Finding Flaws in a Diamond: Clemson’s Rushing Offense - December 17, 2018
- Why Nobody Will Cotton to Notre Dame - December 3, 2018
- Irish Finish Regular Season Perfect 12-0 - November 26, 2018