Sunday, December 5, 2021

No. 8 Irish rides Cone’s arm, Defense wins 34-6 over Navy

SOUTH BEND, IND (NWN) — Jack Coen delivered a big blow after meeting Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly once — a 70-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Austin at the end of the first half — and No. 8 Fighting Irish on Saturday The Navy’s triple-option attack closed in a 34-6 victory.

“The coach was yelling at me because it was the first play open,” said Cone, a gradual transfer from Wisconsin, who completed 23 of 29 passes for 269 yards, who threw for 269 yards. “He told me to throw it there, so that’s exactly what I did. I followed his plan. When you can get the ball to a guy like Kevin Austin, he can distance himself every time.

The touchdown play ended a 5-play, 95-yard scoring drive that took one minute to complete and provided a 17–3 halftime lead for the Irish (8–1, No. 10 CFP). It was one of six receptions for Austin, who covered a total of 139 yards for the game.

“It’s hard to prepare for it,” Kelly said after her fourth consecutive win since her 24-13 loss of the season to Notre Dame. 2 (CFP No. 6) Cincinnati, a team fought by Navy 27 from October 2. -20 home defeat October 23. “I am very proud of how the team prepared throughout the week and the way they performed. We were detailed and focused. “

Kieran Williams ran for 95 yards and two scores as the Irish offense totaled 430 yards. Williams, who clocked a career-high 199 yards in a 44-34 shootout win over North Carolina last week, scored for 1 and 20 yards.

Grad nose tackle Kurt Heinish had a career-high 10 tackles after making just 14 in the following six matches. Notre Dame dominated midshipmen (2-7) with their size and physical game. Navy controlled the clock with a 34:33 possession – but completed just one pass for 18 yards and ran for 166 yards – on 73 by 22 carry fullback Isaac Ross.

“We couldn’t get the ball going in the first half and had a tough time in the second half,” Navy coach Ken Niamatalolo said. “We’re tired.”

It was Notre Dame’s fourth straight win in a series that began in 1927, but was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Notre Dame has an 80-13-1 lead in the series that will continue until at least 2032.

The Navy took a 3–0 lead after the first quarter with either of the first two field goals by Bijon Nichols. But the Irish scored 17 points in the second quarter – a tying field goal from Jonathan Doerr, a 1-yard TD run from Williams and a touchdown aerial from Cone-to-Austin with 50 seconds remaining – for a 17-3 halftime lead.

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“It was hard to skip that late touchdown (in the first half) because we avoided,” Niumatalolo said.

Notre Dame found safety when Navy backup quarterback Xavier Arline, replacing injured starter Tai Lavatai, corrected his own fumble in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter. Williams retrieved her goal-line foul in the end zone to eliminate her 20-yard scoring scalper. Freshman Logan Diggs completed the scoring with an 8-yard run.


Navy: Midshipmen struggle against Notre Dame’s physical front four. Lavatai’s back-to-back quarterback sacks by Hinish and Jordan Botelho forced the Navy to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Nichols and a 3-0 first-quarter lead.

Lavatai suffered a neck injury late in the second quarter and did not return. Arline took his place and completed one of two passes for 18 yards but just eight yards on eight carries.

“We’ve eaten so much clock and came up with nothing,” said Niumatalolo as the midshipman managed just two field goals with the time of his possession advantage.

Notre Dame: After a scoreless first quarter, the Irish led midshipmen 225-12 yards in the second quarter, including 158-0 through the air, while 17 straight behind quarterback Cone and freshman Tyler Buchner Points scored, which in turn last three quarters.

Coen scored two big goals for Austin in the first half – completing a 38-yard run to set up Doerer’s 24-yard field goal and then completing his 70-yard finish that gave the Irish 50 seconds to go 17-3. turned up.

“It helped,” Kelly said. “I thought we handled the back half of the second quarter very well.”

Austin praised his quarterback.

“Jack has been the same guy every single day since he’s here,” Austin said. “He has the ability to make these kinds of plays every now and then and we trust him to do so.”


Notre Dame lost grade slot receiver Avery Davis to a knee injury late in the game. The Irish are already thin in wide positions with Lawrence Keys III in the transfer portal. Kelly is expected to learn more about Davis’ injury on Sunday. Meanwhile, Navy opts to keep Lavtai out of the second half.

election effect

Notre Dame could go a bit further with a 40-29 win over Purdue’s No. 5 Michigan State (CFP No. 3) in an Associated Press poll. The Irish should also advance in the College Football Playoff (Number 10) rankings (CFP No. 9) with Wake Forest’s 58–55 loss to North Carolina.


Navy: Next Saturday hosts East Carolina.

Notre Dame: Next Saturday in Virginia.


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