NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame passing game was all but unstoppable Saturday inside Notre Dame Stadium as the No. 16 Irish cruised to a 52-20 victory over No. 23 Navy.
A career day from wide receiver Chase Claypool provided the highlight on a day full of them, accounting for seven catches, 117 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. The senior set a career-long with his 47-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and his three first-half touchdown receptions were the most by an Irish player since at least 1950. With four scoring catches, Claypool tied the Notre Dame record set by Maurice Stovall against BYU in 2005.
Quarterback Ian Book had a similar career performance, finishing 14-of-20 for 284 yards and five touchdowns, including a career-long 70-yard toss to Braden Lenzy in the second quarter. With his fourth touchdown pass, Book became the first quarterback in program history to record four games with four passing touchdowns in a season. With his fifth, he became the first Irish quarterback with three games of five passing touchdowns in a year.
The Irish outgained the Midshipmen 410-360 despite running 24 fewer plays (77 to 53). The Irish defense had plenty to do with it, recovering four Navy fumbles, all of which turned into Notre Dame points. Drew White led the team with 10 tackles, while Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had 1.5 sacks and Khalid Kareem forced a career-high two fumbles.
How It Happened
A methodic and balanced 75-yard drive started things for the Irish, culminating in Book’s seven-yard dart to Claypool to give the Irish a 7-0 lead with 9:39 left in the first. Book went 3-4 for 44 yards on the drive, while the Irish added 36 rushing yards — including on a fourth-down conversion from Tony Jones Jr. that kept the possession alive.
A pair of Khalid Kareem forced fumbles on Navy’s first two possessions set up the next two Irish scoring drives, both touchdown catches by Claypool. The first, recovered by Asmar Bilal, gave the Irish the ball on their own 27, but it took just two plays for Book to connect with Claypool on a 47-yard strike up the seam for the score with 3:11 to go in the first. The second, recovered by Jamir Jones, set up a four-play, 39-yard scoring possession that was capped by Claypool’s three-yard snag to make it 21-0 with 12:32 left in the second quarter.
After a penalty called back what would have been a 62-yard punt return touchdown by Chris Finke on the next Irish possession, it look less than 10 seconds for the Irish to get back into the end zone. This time, it was the 70-yard touchdown pass from Book to Lenzy, marking career-long for both quarterback and receiver.
After the Irish added a field goal to go ahead 31-0, a third Navy fumble and recovery by Drew White gave the Irish the ball at the Midshipmen 24-yard line with four minutes left in the first half. The Irish went up 38-0 less than three minutes later, scoring on the ground for the first time on the afternoon when Tony Jones Jr. broke the plane for a two-yard score.
Navy only avoided the first-half shutout with a field goal as time expired to make it 38-3 at intermission.
It was more of the same to start the third quarter for the Irish. After stalling the Midshipmen to open the half, Book led a seven-play, 78-yard drive which once again ended in a 20-yard Claypool touchdown reception, tying the Irish record for touchdown receptions in a game.
Navy scored its first touchdown late in the third when Perry Olsen hit Mychal Cooper on a 43-yard touchdown pass but, after the Irish punted on their next possession, the Midshipmen couldn’t keep the momentum going. Two plays into their next drive, linebacker Paul Moala forced the fourth Navy fumble of the day, reaching in on Olsen’s pitch to knock it loose and snagging it in mid-air before returning the recovery 27 yards for a touchdown. That made it 52-10, putting the Irish over the 50-point mark for the third time this season.
The Midshipmen added an Olsen touchdown and a Bijan Nichols field goal in the final six minutes.
- #10 WR Chris Finke and #11 S Alohi Gilman represented the Irish as captains for the opening coin toss. Navy won the toss and elected to defer the opening kickoff. Notre Dame received the opening kickoff.
- With the win:
- Notre Dame improves to 8-2 on the season, and 79-13-1ˆ all-time vs. Navy.
- Notre Dame’s defense held Navy to three points in the first half.
- With another scoreless first quarter from the Notre Dame defense (fifth of the season), the Irish are allowing just 3.40 points/game in the opening stanza this season.
- Entering this matchup, Navy had allowed just eight touchdown receptions on the season. Saturday, the Irish scored five passing touchdowns.
- Navy did not attempt their first pass until 1:24 remained in the first half.
- The 52 points scored marked the most Notre Dame has ever scored against a ranked Navy team. The previous high came on Nov. 1, 1958, when the Irish defeated the Mids, 40-20, at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
- It was Notre Dame’s 24th victory over a ranked team by a margin of 25 points or more and it marked the third time the Irish have secured such a win against the Mids.
- Brian Kelly became just the third coach in Notre Dame history with three or more wins of at least 25 points over ranked teams. Lou Holtz and Frank Leahy each secured eight such victories. Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine had two such victories apiece.
- Notre Dame did not punt until 5:27 remained in the third quarter.
(ˆ-Includes 20 regular-season wins and two postseason appearances vacated under discretionary NCAA penalty)
WR Chase Claypool
- Claypool recorded four touchdown receptions (career-high for a single game) which ties him for most receiving touchdowns in a single game in Irish history (Maurice Stovall vs. BYU, Oct. 22, 2005).
- Three of those receptions came in the first half, marking the first time an Irish player has scored three receiving touchdowns in a single half since at least 1950.
- The four scoring catches brought Claypool’s career total to 15.
- In November this season, Claypool has 20 catches for 332 yards (averaging 110.7 per game) and 5 TDs.
- Claypool recorded the first touchdown of the game, a seven-yard reception from QB Ian Book, to cap Notre Dame’s first drive (11 plays, 75 yards). It marked the first time that Navy trailed since the first quarter of its game against Tulsa (Oct. 12).
- Claypool later recorded a career-long 47-yard TD reception in the final minutes of the first quarter (also serving as his overall career-long reception, topping his 44-yard reception vs. Wake Forest in 2017) to put the Irish up, 14-0.
- Claypool recorded his third touchdown on a three-yard toss from Book in the second quarter and his fourth on an impressive 20-yard catch in the corner of the endzone in the third quarter.
QB Ian Book
- Ian Book now has three games with five TD passes this year. That is the most in a season by an Irish QB. With his five touchdown passes vs. Navy, Book joined Brady Quinn as the only quarterbacks in Irish history to throw four or more touchdown passes in a game on five occasions in their career (Quinn accomplished this feat seven times).
- With his fourth TD pass of the game in the second quarter, Ian Book passed DeShone Kizer (47) for fourth all-time in program history for touchdown passes in a career. Book now has totaled 49 TD passes.
- It was Book’s fourth game of the season with at least four passing TDs, making him the first QB in school history to record four games with at least four passing TDs in the same season.
- Book’s fifth TD pass made him the first QB in school history to record three games with at least five passing TDs in the same season.
- In the first half, Book was 11-of-14 for 209 yards and four TDs.
- DE Khalid Kareem recorded two forced fumbles in the first half vs. Navy, his first two of the season and third of his career. The first was recovered by LB Asmar Bilal on Navy’s opening drive to give Notre Dame possession at the Irish 27-yard line, It was Bilal’s first fumble recovery of the season and the second of his career (vs. Clemson, 2018). The second was recovered by DE Jamir Jones, his first of the season and the second of his career (vs. Navy, 2018).
- WR Braden Lenzy scored on a 70-yard spiral from Book, the longest pass/reception for both Book and Lenzy in their careers.
- LB Drew White recovered a fumble, the first of his career, near the four-minute mark of the second quarter. He led the Irish in tackles, totaling 10 on the day
- RB Tony Jones Jr. scored the first rushing touchdown of the matchup on a two-yard run with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
- LB Paul Moala recorded a fumble recovery and returned it for a touchdown, marking his first recovery and score.