November 3, 2007

Navy Sinks The Irish

It really looked like the Irish had their act together. They finally started running the ball, improving over their league-last 34 yards per game to well over 200 yards. They played ball control but managed to toss the ball as well. Unfortunately, despite playing against an undersized Navy team, the defense couldn't keep the Midshipmen out of the end zone, either, sending the game into three overtime sessions. The Fighting Irish simply couldn't keep their 43-year winning streak alive:

It took 44 years and three overtimes for Navy to beat Notre Dame.

The Midshipmen snapped an NCAA-record 43-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish with a 46-44 victory today in triple overtime.

Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada threw a 25-yard TD pass to Reggie Campbell on the first play of the third overtime, then found him again in the end zone for the 2-point conversion.

Notre Dame cut the lead to two on a 5-yard TD run by Travis Thomas. But after a pass interference call gave Notre Dame a second-chance at the 2-point conversion, defensive lineman Michael Walsh and linebacker Irv Spencer tackled Thomas well short of the end zone.

It was the first time Navy (5-4) beat Notre Dame since a 35-14 win in 1963 when Roger Staubach was quarterback for the Midshipmen.

The Irish had a chance to win the game in regulation. They had put together a good drive in the final minutes, but stalled at the Navy 24 yard line. Faced with a fourth-and-eight, most people expected Charlie Weis to kick a field goal with less than two minutes to go. Even had it missed, it would have left Navy a long field to overcome and not enough time to cross it.

Instead, inexplicably, Weis sent his offense back on the field -- and Navy sacked QB Evan Sharpley for a seven-yard loss.

Now the Irish have to face Army, Duke, and Stanford, and will be lucky to beat two of them. Even with a size advantage on the line of scrimmage, the Irish could not stop an option offense that looked like a throwback to better Irish teams of old. Navy has one of its better teams this year, but no one mistakes them for a strong opponent in Division I football, and if the Irish can't use their size advantage to beat the Midshipmen, then it's difficult to see how they can beat any of their opponents left on the schedule.

The Irish defense got outplayed, and Charlie Weis got outcoached. At some point, the Notre Dame AD will have to ask himself how many more games he wants to see those habits continue.


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