SAN DIEGO, CA — No. 3 Notre Dame (8-0) takes down unranked Navy (2-6) in Saturday’s matchup led by their dominant three playmakers racking up a total of 584 yards on offense in a 44-22 victory.
Notre Dame’s dominant force from start to finish stemmed from quarterback Ian Book, who threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns, running back Dexter Williams, who ran for 142 yards and had three touchdowns and wide receiver Miles Boykin who finished with two touchdowns.
Boykin is also leading the team in receiving touchdowns with six on the season.
Although, No. 3 Notre Dame started the game off a little shaky due to a fumble by Miles Boykin on the opening play of the game it didn’t affect the teams chemistry moving forward.
“There’s no point in thinking about what happened when you have the whole game ahead of you,” said quarterback Ian Book when asked about the opening play from scrimmage.
With their superior size and talent the Fighting Irish took a 27-0 lead just before halftime. While the defense kept Navy’s triple option in check, Book was able to stay comfortable in the pocket and was poised under pressure. His control during the game put the Midshipmen off-balance and left flustered as they tried to climb out of a deep hole. Book completed 27 of 33 passes, to 10 different receivers, and although he threw an interception it didn’t stop his momentum.
The Fighting Irish was just as effective on the ground running the ball as they were in the air throwing the ball.
Coming into this game Notre Dame was the only team in FBS football with three rushing touchdowns in excess of 90 yards since 2015.
Senior running back Dexter Williams has had a huge impact on the team since returning from a four game suspension at the start of the season.
He currently leads the team in all rushing categories for the season even with missing the first four games. Tonight his three touchdowns definitely helped his team come out on top.
“I don’t really try to chase stats,” said Williams when asked about his mindset for the season after coming back. “I try to go out and win each and every game with my brothers.”
Williams also stated that it does not matter whether or not he has a ton of yards on 10 or a ton of carries with little to no yards he just wants to “lay it all on the line…and just keep on winning.”
Notre Dame is now 8-0 for the first time since 2012, when it remained undefeated until being routed by Alabama in the BCS national title game.
“Glad to get out of here with a victory, with a lot of good things to build off of going into the last month,” said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly when giving his opening statement in the post game press conference on Saturday. “What we learned today is getting off to a great start is one thing, but if you don’t play with the same physicality for four quarters, you’re going to be in trouble. So we learned a lot from today.”
Starting off fast and physical was one important factor that helped Notre Dame win tonight’s battle and also helped their defense play the way they did to ensure the victory.
Notre Dame’s defense kept Navy to two of 12 on third down, getting off the field and putting the offense in good positions.
Both sides of the ball assisted each other to bring together all moving parts.
The Notre Dame defense had yielded a single touchdown from scrimmage during the second half in the past three games coming into this game, outscoring opponents a combined 58-17 over the final 30 minutes of games. Tonight they gave up two touchdowns in the second half.
Navy (2-6), which lost its fifth straight, finally broke through thanks to some big plays that led to Zach Abey scoring two 1-yard touchdowns in the third quarter. Book was intercepted early in the fourth quarter, setting up a 33-yard touchdown run by Mike Martin.
But again, it wasn’t enough to stop the momentum the Fighting Irish had gained throughout the course of the game.
“They are ranked No, 3 for a reason,” Navy Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Just a really solid, focused group. We have played coach Kelly’s teams before and this is one of his better teams.”
The two teams have now met for the 92nd consecutive time as part of an annual series that has continued uninterrupted since the 1927 campaign. Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 77-13-1.
The game, which drew a crowd of 63,626 to SDCCU Stadium in San Diego was a sellout crowd and was promoted by the San Diego Bowl Game Association.
No. 3 Notre Dame remains undefeated and in the FBS playoff picture.
Notre Dame visits Northwestern on Saturday.
Navy returns to American Athletic Conference play Saturday at Cincinnati.