Mids Head to South Bend for Annual Navy-Notre Dame Football Game
QB Ricky Dobbs orchestrated an amazing fourth-quarter comeback that fell just short in last year's Notre Dame contest.
Nov. 2, 2009
Setting the Stage
Meeting for the 83rd time in series history, Navy (6-3) and 19th-ranked Notre Dame (6-2) are set to square off Saturday afternoon in South Bend in a contest that will be televised by NBC Sports.
Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analyst) and Alex Flanagan will call the action from Notre Dame Stadium (80,795) beginning at 2:30 pm.
The Navy Football Radio Network will provide more than six hours of coverage starting at 12:30 pm with its pregame show on 1430 WNAV (Annapolis) hosted by Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller and Wiley Baker.
The Navy Football Pregame Show will get underway at 1:30 pm with Bob Socci, Omar Nelson, John Feinstein and Pete Medhurst setting the scene from South Bend, followed by game action beginning at 2:30 pm. Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 152) will carry the Navy broadcast, while XM subscribers can listen to Notre Dame's broadcast on Ch. 117.
Following the contest, Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller will recap the day's events in a 60-minute postgame show live on 1430 WNAV and on 1050 AM in Washington, D.C.
A win by Navy would make the Midshipmen bowl elgible and send them to the Dec. 31 Texas Bowl in Houston against a team from the Big 12. Navy has earned a bowl bid in six-consecutive years.
Despite missing all the Wake Forest game and playing just seven plays against Temple, junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs is No. 1 in the nation in touchdowns scored (16) and points per game (12.0). He is tied for 14th in the country in points responsible for (14.3 pts/gm). His 16 rushing touchdowns are tied for the second most in school history, just four off the record set by Chris McCoy in 1997. The NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback is 23 set by Chance Harridge of Air Force in 2002 and tied in 2007 by Tim Tebow of Florida.
Navy is vying for a record fifth-straight NCAA rushing title this year. Prior to Navy's current streak of four in a row, no team had ever won the rushing title more than twice in a row. The Mids are currently No. 3 in the country (279.8 yds/gm).
Navy is the only team in the country that ranks in the top 15 in third down efficiency on both offense and defense. The Navy offense ranks 12th in the country in third down efficiency (.489), while the defense is sixth (.290).
Navy, who has played a pair of overtime games in 2009, has won five-straight overtime games, which is tied for an NCAA record for consecutive overtime wins.
Scouting The Irish
Notre Dame enters Saturday's contest with a 6-2 record and is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Jimmy Clausen.
The Irish have defeated Nevada (35-0), Michigan State (33-30), Purdue (24-21), Washington (37-30 OT), Boston College (20-16) and Washington State (40-14), while dropping decisions to Michigan (38-34) and USC (34-27).
Notre Dame held Nevada, who is leading the country in rushing (319.1 yds/gm), to just 153 yards on the ground in the season-opener.
The Notre Dame offense is ranked fifth in total offense (457.6 yds/gm), eighth in passing offense (309.8 yds/gm), 28th in scoring offense (31.3 pts/gm) and 58th in rushing offense (147.9 yds/gm).
The Notre Dame defense ranks 50th against the run (123.9 yds/gm), 51st in scoring defense (22.9 pts/gm), 83rd in total defense (384 yds/gm) and 109th against the pass (260.1 yds/gm).
Clausen ranks No. 2 in the country in pass efficiency (164.3) and 15th in total offense (282.6 yds/gm).
Wide receiveer Golden Tate is fourth in receiving yards per game (115.9 yds/gm), tied for 14th in the country in receptions per game (7.0 rec/gm), 18th in all-purpose yards per game (148.9 yds/gm) and tied for 23rd in scoring per game (8.3 pts/gm).
Kyle McCarthy is tied for fifth in the country interceptions per game (0.62).
Darius Fleming is eighth in the country in tackles for a loss per game.
Kicker Nick Tausch is tied for 10th in the country field goals per game (1.75) and tied for 23rd in scoring per game (8.3).
The Last Time ...
Notre Dame 27, Navy 21 Nov. 15, 2008 | M&T Bank Stadium | Baltimore, Md.
The cardiac kids almost pulled it off again. Two weeks after pulling off the biggest comeback in school history against Temple, Navy nearly pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA history.
Trailing 27-7 with 2:30 left in the contest, backup quarterback Ricky Dobbs led the Mids on a four-play, 57-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 24-yard touchdown run by Shun White with 1:39 left.
Navy senior kicker Matt Harmon's onside kick attempt was illegally batted forward, costing the Irish 15 yards and allowing Navy a second onside kick attempt. This time, the kick was perfect and, after sophomore Travis Simmons took out the Notre Dame player trying to field the kick, senior Corey Johnson fell on the ball at the Irish 41-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Dobbs threw a perfect strike to senior receiver Tyree Barnes , who made a spectacular catch at the Notre Dame one-yard line. Two plays later, Dobbs scored from the one to pull the Mids within a touchdown at 27-20. Harmon made the extra-point and when Notre Dame roughed the kicker, it allowed Navy to kickoff from the 45.
Once again Harmon's onside kick was perfect, once again Simmons blew up the first line of Notre Dame's hands team and once against Johnson recovered the onside kick at the Irish 41-yard line with 1:21 left.
After Dobbs ran for seven yards on first down, he threw a pass to a wide-open White at the Notre Dame 11-yard line that he just missed completing.
Dobbs ran for three yards on third down to give the Mids a first down. Navy then intentionally spiked the ball to stop the clock with 39 seconds left.
Dobbs was sacked on second down, forcing Navy to use its final timeout with 33 seconds left.
On third down, Dobbs threw a jump ball to Barnes near the goal line that Navy just missed completing and then on fourth down Dobbs' pass sailed over the head of junior slot back Cory Finnerty to end the game.
Navy Versus The BCS/Non-BCS
Since 2003, Navy owns a 14-19 (.424) record against schools from a BCS conference and an impressive 43-9 record (.827) against non-BCS foes. Navy's 14 BCS wins since 2003 are tied with Utah for the most during that time span by a non-BCS school.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is 11-3 (.786) against non-BCS squads. His only losses are to Utah in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl when he just had taken over the team after Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech, at Ball State in 2008 and Temple in 2009.
Navy's 14 wins against BCS schools since 2003 have come against Vanderbilt (2003), Duke (`04), Vanderbilt (`04), Rutgers (`04), Duke (`05), Stanford (`06), Connecticut (`06), Duke (`06), Duke (`07), Pitt (`07), Notre Dame (`07), Rutgers (`08), Wake Forest (`08) and Wake Forest (`09).
Since 2003, Navy owns a 14-19 (.424) mark against BCS schools.
The Mids own victories over Vanderbilt (2003, 2004), Duke (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Rutgers (2004, 2008), Stanford (2006), Connecticut (2006), Pitt (2007), Notre Dame (2007) and Wake Forest (2008, 2009).
The 14 wins over BCS opponents are tied with Utah for the most by a non-BCS school since 2003.
Pierce's Big Day Sends Mids To Third Defeat
Freshman running back Bernard Pierce rushed for 267 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:41 remaining that gave the Owls the lead for good and led Temple to a 27-24 victory over Navy. The 267 yards rushing are the most by a Navy opponent since Michigan's Ron Johnson ran for 270 yards on 26 carries in 26-21 loss to the Mids on Oct. 7, 1967.
Twice in the fourth quarter Navy had the ball and the lead (24-20), but couldn't pick up a first down on third-and-short.
On the first drive, Navy faced a third-and-one from its own 39, but the Temple defensive line blew up the play and quarterback Kriss Proctor was forced to toss the ball to slot back Cory Finnerty out of desperation for a loss of four yards.
After a Wyatt Middleton interception gave Navy the ball back at its own 22 with 6:31 remaining, the Mids were unable to get a first down again. Fullback Vince Murray picked up five yards on first down and two more on second down, but on third-and-three Proctor gained just one yard and the Mids were forced to punt.
Navy punter Kyle Delahooke set up Temple's game-winning drive with a 29-yard punt, giving the Owls great field position at their own 41-yard line with 4:13 remaining.
Pierce rushed for 12 yards on first down, but the Navy defense then forced an incompletion by quarterback Vaughn Charlton and Pierce rushed for six yards on second down. On third-and-four from the Navy 41, Pierce started to run inside and then bounced outside and ran untouched down the left sideline for the game-winning touchdown.
Pierce also had a 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave Temple a 7-3 lead.
Navy regained the lead at 10-7 on a three-yard punt return for a touchdown by David Wright after Temple punter Jeff Wathne got off a punt of -1 yard. Temple, however, quickly regained the lead on the ensuing kickoff when James Nixon took the kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-10.
Navy got a third-quarter touchdown run from Murray (five yards) and a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Proctor (two yards) to take a 24-20 lead.
Murray finished the day with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown on 33 carries, marking his third-straight game over 100 yards.
Middleton picked off two passes, while Tony Haberer recorded seven tackles, including two tackles for a loss, to lead the defense.
Navy is 29-18 (.617) in games played away from Annapolis over the last seven years, the country's 13th-best mark.
Since 2003, Navy owns an 20-6 (.769) record in games following a loss.
The Mids have lost back-to-back games just six times during that seven-year span:
2005 Maryland and Stanford
2006 Rutgers and Notre Dame
2007 Rutgers and Ball St.; Wake Forest and Delaware
2008 Ball State and Duke
2008/09 Wake Forest (bowl game) and Ohio State
Navy has not lost three-straight games since the 2002 season when the Mids lost 10 in a row.
Mids Heat Up When Temperatures Drop
Over the last six years, the Navy football team has turned in a 21-8 (.724) record in games played after Oct. 31, winning 14 of the last 18 games.
The Mids are averaging 35.8 points per game in games played in November and December over the last six years (1,039 pts / 29 gms).