The first Notre Dame-Navy game between ranked opponents did not live up to the hype. No. 16 Notre Dame used three first-half fumble recoveries to build a 38-0 second quarter lead, then cruised to a 52-20 win over No. 23 Navy.
The Irish accepted the ball to open the game and rolled 75 yards in 11 plays, as Ian Book found Chase Claypool for the first of four touchdowns, this one from seven yards out. Navy then responded by pushing to a 1st-and-10 at the Notre Dame 24, but quarterback Malcolm Perry committed the first of his three first-half fumbles and Book hit Claypool for a 47-yard touchdown two plays later, giving the Irish an insurmountable 14-0 lead at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter.
Perry was sacked and fumbled on Navy’s next touch, and the short-field drive ended the same way the first two did: a scoring strike from Book to Claypool, this one just a 3-yard toss.
In all, Notre Dame (8-2) scored on its first seven possessions, six of them touchdowns. Book closed the day 14-of-20 for 284 yards and five touchdowns, which is about what you’d expect him to put up practicing against the November air in South Bend. He also led the Irish on the ground with a modest 31 yards on nine carries, as Notre Dame mustered only 105 yards on the ground on 31 total carries. Claypool hauled in seven passes for 117 yards and four touchdowns.
Perry led all runners for 117 yards on 25 carries, but his three first half fumbles washed away much of that progress. As a team, Navy (7-2) ran for 281 yards, but needed 64 carries to get there, more than a yard and a half below the Middies’ yards per carry average (6.08) this season.
After dropping three of four meetings between 2007-10, Notre Dame has now won eight of nine in this series and four straight. The Irish lead the all-time series, 77-13-1.