SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A dominant first-half effort and a season-high in total yardage carried third-ranked Notre Dame (8-0) to a 44-22 victory over Navy (2-6) on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd (63,626) at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium.
With 584 yards of total offense (330 passing; 254 rushing), the Irish controlled the time of possession (31:57-28:03) to win that battle with Navy for the first time since 2015. They limited the Midshipmen to 344 yards (54 passing; 292 rushing) and allowed just 70 net rushing yards in the first half — a best against Navy under head coach Brian Kelly.
Irish quarterback Ian Book remained efficient in the passing game, finishing 27-of-33 (.818) for a career-high 330 yards and two touchdowns to Miles Boykin (58 yards). It was the fifth straight game in which Book finished with a completion percentage above 70 percent.
Running back Dexter Williams led all rushers with 142 yards and scored three first-half rushing touchdowns, marking his second three-touchdown game of the season. In the effort, he became the first Irish player with three rushing touchdowns in multiple games since C.J. Prosise did so in 2015.
In his first game since Sept. 22 after missing the last three games with an injury, running back Jafar Armstrong amassed 116 all-purpose yards (64 receiving, 52 rushing) and scored the game’s first touchdown.
Linebacker Te’von Coney matched his season high with 14 tackles, including eight solo efforts and one tackle for loss. Safety Jalen Elliott recorded seven tackles, a forced fumble and his third interception of the season, while safety Alohi Gilman also added seven tackles against his former team.
How It Happened
After losing a fumble on the first play from scrimmage, the Irish held firm on defense against Navy’s triple option and forced a reciprocal turnover on downs. Book led an eight-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, culminating in four straight play calls for Armstrong (three rushes, one pass), including a one-yard touchdown rush for his sixth of the season to put the Irish ahead 6-0.
The Irish scored on three of their next four possessions of the first half, all coming on rushes by Williams. The first came on a 12-yard scamper with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter, capping a four-play, 80-yard drive.
Navy forced the first Irish punt of the day to start the second quarter, but Notre Dame was again stalwart on defense and registered a three-and-out in response. What followed was a 67-yard touchdown drive by the Irish, spanning 13 plays and 5:27 of game time and culminating in a nine-yard Williams rush.
Williams capped his stellar first half with a two-yard score at the 1:04 mark before halftime, the final play of an 83-yard drive.
The Midshipmen found some offensive rhythm in the third quarter, engineering a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives — both scores on one-yard rushes by quarterback Zach Abey — to make it 30-14 in the first 10 minutes of the stanza. Their first touchdown came after a 58-yard rush by Malcolm Perry put Navy on the Irish 17-yard line on the first play of the half, while their second scoring drive included a rare 34-yard pass from Garret Lewis to Mychal Cooper.
Book tallied his first touchdown pass of the game with 1:04 remaining in the third, finding Boykin on a four-yard route to extend the lead to 37-14.
After an interception set up a 33-yard touchdown run for Midshipman Mike Martin that made it 37-22 (Navy converted on the two-point attempt), Book again connected with Boykin on a 22-yard touchdown pass to put the Irish back up by three scores.
The Irish return to the Midwest and will face Northwestern in primetime next Saturday at Ryan Field in Evansville, Illinois. The game will kick off at either 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN.