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Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Torpedoes Navy

November 16, 2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- An historic rivalry contest and national showcase game of two Top 25 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings turned into a show-out afternoon Saturday for No. 16 Notre Dame.

Spurred by Chase Claypool’s school-record tying four touchdown receptions and Ian Book’s five scoring tosses, the Fighting Irish routed No. 23 Navy, 52-20, with a less-than-capacity crowd of 74,080 --- the first game inside Notre Dame Stadium not to be listed as a sellout since 1973.

“It’s not possible without all 10 other guys,” Claypool said. 

Consider Notre Dame’s offensive tour de force since the penultimate drive of the Irish’s comeback-win Nov. 2 against Virginia Tech:

--- Through six quarters and two drives, Notre Dame had outscored its opponents 83-10 --- including an insurmountable 38-3 halftime lead against Navy (7-2).

--- Since amassing 169 yards in its final two drives against Tech, the Notre Dame offense had gashed opponents for 938 yards through halftime against the Midshipmen.

--- Book tallied nine passing touchdowns, rushed for a score and steered an Irish offense against Navy that averaged nearly a first down per offensive snap --- 300 first-half yards on 32 plays.

Book and Claypool set the early tone. As Claypool dragged across the middle of the field, Book hit his senior wideout in stride and Claypool coasted untouched into the end zone.

Notre Dame led 7-0 after the game’s opening possession; it scored on its first seven possessions against Navy and was not forced to punt until nearly midway through the third quarter.

Claypool’s scoring catches spanned 7, a career-long 47, 3 and 20 yards, the last of which vaulted Notre Dame on top 45-3 five minutes into the second half. Braden Lenzy caught a 70-yard dagger in stride from Book and Tony Jones Jr. plunged across from 2 yards as Notre Dame constructed its 38-0 lead before the Midshipmen got Bijan Nichols’ 27-yard field goal as the first half expired.

Meanwhile, the Irish defense adjusted after Navy’s opening drive and pounced on three Malcolm Perry fumbles that helped facilitate the blowout-win. Perry, who had lost just two fumbles through his team’s first eight games, dropped three on the turf in the opening half.

Notre Dame’s fourth fumble recovery, seconds into the fourth quarter, was scooped up and raced 27 yards to paydirt from backup linebacker Paul Moala.

Jonathan Doerer drilled seven extra points and booted a 32-yard field goal --- his eighth make on 10 tries this season.

Trying to win 10 or more games for a third-straight season, which hasn’t been done beneath the Golden Dome since 1991-93, the Irish have pieced together their most complete back-to-back performances of the season. They’ve outscored Duke and Navy a combined 90-13 with dazzling offense and suffocating defense. The Midshipmen had just 151 first-half yards, a week after high-octane Duke was limited to just 197 yards of total offense.

Though not a capacity crowd, Notre Dame Stadium mostly filled up before the wide margin left the stadium half-empty across much of the second half. Notre Dame also continued its commendable practice of gifting tickets to area veterans and military families, with more than 1,000 handed out to servicemen and women for the game.

Notre Dame concludes its home season next Saturday when it hosts its final Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, Boston College (2:30 p.m., NBC). The Eagles (5-5) were off this weekend and need a win against either the Irish or Pitt to secure bowl eligibility.

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