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Notre Dame-Navy: Numbers, Turning Point & More

Torii Hunter Jr. posted career highs in catches (eight) and yards receiving (104) in a game during the loss to Navy.
Torii Hunter Jr. posted career highs in catches (eight) and yards receiving (104) in a game during the loss to Navy. (Bill Panzica)

By The Numbers

2 Losses to Navy by Notre Dame seventh-year head coach Brian Kelly, with the first coming in his first season 2010. In the 90-game history of the series, he now joins Elmer Layden, Terry Brennan, Joe Kuharich and Charlie Weis as Fighting Irish coaches who lost twice to the Midshipmen. None has ever lost three.

3 Victories by Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo against Notre Dame (2009, 2010 and 2015). That ties him with Wayne Hardin for most wins by a Navy coach against the Fighting Irish. Hardin defeated the Irish in 1960, 1961 and 1963.

Notre Dame now also has lost three consecutive outings in Jacksonville, going back to Gator Bowl defeats on New Year’s Day to North Carolina State (2003) and Georgia Tech (1999).

9-0 All nine games during Notre Dame’s 3-6 start this year were won by the team with more rushing yards. Navy out-gained Notre Dame on the ground 320-147. Don’t look now, but the next opponent, Army, entered the weekend of Nov. 5 ranked second nationally in rushing yards per game (342.6 yards).

9:00 Minutes milked off the clock by Navy on its 16-play, 75-yard drive that put them ahead for good with 11:51 left in the fourth quarter.

12 Games that have passed since Notre Dame has recorded back-to-back victories. That came last November against Wake Forest (28-7) on Senior Day and then Boston College (19-16) the next week in the Shamrock Series. The Irish are 3-8 in their last 11 contests.

19-2 Record under Kelly when the Irish don’t commit a turnover, which they didn’t against Navy. Both defeats occurred this season, with the first in the 50-47 double-overtime loss at Texas in the opener. Just as important was Navy also did not commit a turnover.

23 Navy wins against a Power 5 school since 2003, with four of them against Notre Dame. That ties them with Brigham Young over that 14-year time span for the most by a “Group of 5” school. A distant third is Boise State with 15.

27 Points tallied by Notre Dame after averaging 46.8 the previous five years in victories against Navy, never lower than 38. It was the lowest output versus the Midshipmen since losing 35-17 in Kelly’s first season (2010).

104 Receiving yards by Irish senior receiver Torii Hunter Jr. on eight catches, both career highs. Four of his receptions for 69 yards came on the opening series touchdown drive, capped by a 26-yard score. His previous career highs were six catches versus Duke this season and 95 yards the week prior against Michigan State.

412 Yards rushing by South Florida, a non-triple-option team, in a 52-45 victory against Navy eight days prior to the Notre Dame game. The Irish finished with 147, in great part because they had only six possessions on offense.

Turning Point

Notre Dame regained the lead, 24-21, with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter. If it could just get one stop from the defense and regain possession, the chances looked promising to seize control with a two-score lead.

Indeed, the Irish defense then forced a Navy punt on fourth-and-6 from the Navy 40 — only to be called for having 12 men on the field. The Mids gambled, picked up the fourth-and-inches from their own 45, and concluded the 16-play, 75-yard drive that consumed nine minutes with a touchdown by quarterback Will Worth with 11:51 remaining in the contest.

By giving Navy’s offense a second life with that special teams snafu, the game turned. It’s like a baseball fielder dropping a pop-up in foul territory — and then on the next pitch the same batter hits a game-winning home run.

Stat Of The Game

In the history of Notre Dame football — or maybe even any football — we can’t ever recall a Fighting Irish team having only six possessions in a game.

Notre Dame scored on five of them with three touchdowns and two field goals, and punted on the other. However, limiting the Irish to two field goals was a moral victory for the Midshipmen defense. Notre Dame had two series on offense in the first quarter (a touchdown, plus a field goal by sophomore Justin Yoon) and two in the second (a punt and a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half).

Particularly amazing was it had one possession apiece in the third quarter (a touchdown drive that lasted 5:17) and in the fourth quarter (a field goal after a march that took 4:23).

Brian Kelly’s Take On Going For The Field Goal on Fourth-And-Four From the Navy 14 When Trailing 28-24 With 7:28 left

“We certainly thought about going for it. In hindsight, it’s something where we didn’t get the ball back. 28-27 made sense to me at the time. Even if they score a touchdown you have the opportunity to score and get the two-point conversion … If it’s fourth-and-one or two, maybe. But those are the decisions that you have to make. I don’t question the decision to go for the field goal, other than the fact that we couldn’t get the ball back.”


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