Notre Dame ousts Navy with strong second half

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame showed no ill effects from a devastating loss to Clemson last week as the 15th-ranked Irish (5-1) played a dominant second half in a 41-24 college football victory over Navy (4-1) Saturday.

Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns and the Irish defense found a remedy to contain the Navy triple-option offense in the second half.

For the first time in his four appearances against Notre Dame, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was able to surpass the 100-yard rushing mark. Fullback Quentin Ezell had two long touchdown runs for Navy.

Two Irish fumble recoveries and an interception by Elijah Shumate helped the Notre Dame defense keep the Midshipmen contained.

Navy’s Dishan Romine fumbled the second half kickoff. Notre Dame turned it into a Prosise 22-yard TD run and a 31-21 Irish lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Romine took the kickoff 58 yards to the Notre Dame 38, but the Irish defense shut down Navy, even though Reynolds returned to the lineup after a first-half leg injury. After 10 straight field goals in his career, Austin Grebe misfired wide left on a 44-yard field goal try.

After that defensive stop, another quality Irish offensive march ended with an 11-yard Prosise touchdown run, adding some breathing room with a 38-21 score.

Defenses from both teams had a bad first half.

Notre Dame’s 24-21 lead was the product of a whole bunch of yards generated by both offenses. 

The Irish, who apparently saw a weakness in Navy’s pass defense, had 204 of their 264 yards through the air — though much of it came on short passes.

On the other hand, 239 of Navy’s 245 yards came on the ground. With 9:25 left in the first half and Notre Dame leading 14-7, Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds went down with what seemed to be a left leg injury. His replacement, Tago Smith, still ran the offense effectively. Ezell, a backup fullback, had two big runs – 45 and 22 yards – for touchdowns.

Kizer scored from a yard out. Prosise ran seven yards for a score. Notre Dame’s third TD of the first half came on a 30-yard connection between Kizer and Will Fuller.

Ezell’s second TD burst came with 24 seconds left in the half. A 12-yard run by Prosise and 28-yard pass from Kizer to Torii Hunter, Jr., set up Justin Yoon for a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give Notre Dame the lead.

Two Navy fumbles — one early in the second quarter and one to start the third — were turned into Prosise touchdown runs.

C.J. Prosise (20), Mike McGlinchey (68) and Will Fuller (7) celebrate a Fighting Irish touchdown during the first half against Navy, Saturday, October 10, 2015, in South Bend. SBT Photo/ BECKY MALEWITZ