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Navy Takes Down The Irish In Jacksonville

Nov. 5, 2016

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NOVEMBER 5, 2016 -- The University of Notre Dame football team fell to 3-6 on the season with a 28-27 loss to Navy (6-2) in the 90th consecutive meeting between the two teams at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday afternoon.

Notre Dame cut the Navy lead to one point with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter, but the Midshipmen were able to run out the clock on a drive that included a first-down run on fourth and inches with 4:32 remaining and a first-down pass on fourth and six with 1:19 left to earn the victory.

Will Worth's one-yard touchdown run at 11:51 of the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

Notre Dame scored on its first drive of the game, as DeShone Kizer hit Torii Hunter Jr. for a 26-yard touchdown pass on first and 20 from the Navy 26. The Midshipmen answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by Darryl Bonner's 16-yard touchdown run.

The Irish pulled back into a 10-7 lead on a Justin Yoon 39-yard field goal with 1:39 remaining in the first quarter. Notre Dame's defense then came up with a fourth down stop at its own 45-yard line, but the Irish offense could not capitalize and was forced to punt after three plays.

Navy regained momentum with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Worth touchdown plunge to take a 14-10 lead. This time, the Irish would answer with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ate up 7:53 of game time and ended with an eight-yard touchdown catch by tight end Durham Smythe.

The first half started with another Navy scoring drive to put them back into the lead 21-17. With the pressure back on the Irish offense, Kizer and the crew responded with a scoring drive and a clutch touchdown catch by Equanimeous St. Brown on 3rd and six from the Navy 13-yard line.

Little would the Irish realize at the time, but they would get just one more possession in the game. Navy would eat up the rest of the third quarter and a good portion of the fourth with a 16-play, 75-yard drive that included three third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion that was shortened from fourth and six to fourth and one by Notre Dame having too many men on the field during Navy's punt attempt. The drive was ended by another one-yard touchdown dive from Worth.

Finally getting the ball back, the Irish drove down the field on the arm of Kizer, including a 20-yard completion to Kevin Stepherson to set Notre Dame up with a first down on the Navy 20-yard line. Two incompletions later, Stepherson snagged an errant throw across the middle with one hand to pick up six yards on third and 10. Facing fourth and four at the Navy 14-yard line, the Irish elected to kick a field goal to cut the lead to one point.

Navy would run out the rest of the time in the game after the kickoff, including two big fourth down conversions, to end the the game.

TURNING POINT:

12 Men On The Field at 2:09 in the third quarter.

Games against the Naval Academy, which is annually among the national leaders in rushing yards and time of possession, come down to stops and scores. With the Midshipmen's ability to run the ball, anytime a team can get Navy to punt the ball is a huge victory for the defense. Navy's triple option attack also is difficult to stop in short yardage, but typically is not equipped to pick up long yardage on third or fourth down.

After a James Onwualu tackle for loss on first down with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter, Navy ended up facing a fourth and six at its own 40-yard line, trailing 24-21. The Midshipmen decided to punt, but the Irish were caught on a replay review with 12 men on the field. After the yardage adjustment to fourth and one, Navy converted, drove the rest of the field and scored the game-winning touchdown.

PLAY OF THE GAME:

Equanimeous St. Brown's 13-yard touchdown catch.

PLAYERS OF THE GAME:

Offense: Torii Hunter Jr. - 8 catches, 104 yards, 1 touchdown.

Hunter started the Notre Dame scoring in the game with a 26-yard touchdown catch while also recovering from a hit to the knee in the second quarter - returning to the lineup to lead the team in catches and receiving yardage.

Defense: Greer Martini - 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss.

Notre Dame's triple-option specialist, Martini tied teammate Nyles Morgan for the team-high in tackles with 11. In four games against options team in his career (Navy 2014-16 and Georgia Tech in 2015), Martini has 37 tackles (9.3 per game).

STAT OF THE GAME:

Navy four of five on fourth down conversion attempts.

The Notre Dame defense was, at times, able to hold Navy to some fourth down decisions, but were unable to get off the field at key times. In the final drive, as Navy drained the final 7:28 off the game clock, the Midshipmen converted a fourth and one along with a fourth and six.

 

 

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