LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – Different setting, same old story.
And this time the final score was as lopsided as the rivalry itself.
Autry Denson became Notre Dame’s career rushing leader and Jarious Jackson completed his first 12 passes as the 12th-ranked Irish beat Navy for the 35th straight time Saturday, 30-0.
It was the first college football game at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, but the result wasn’t any different than the previous 34 in this one-sided competition. By the time the fourth quarter got under way, many in the crowd of 78,844 had already started for the exits.
“We played hard. We just did not play well,” Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said.
The Irish (8-1) led 27-0 after three quarters in easily extending their NCAA-record winning streak against Navy (3-6). The Irish lead the series 62-9-1 and have not lost to the Midshipmen since Roger Staubach led Navy to victory in 1963.
Navy lost 21-17 last year when its final play ended at the Notre Dame 2, but there was absolutely no suspense this time around.
Denson ran for two touchdowns and gained 107 yards on 25 carries to become the most prolific runner in Notre Dame history. The 5-foot-10 senior has 4,192 career rushing yards, 61 more than Allen Pinkett amassed from 1982-85, and his 22nd 100-yard game snapped a tie with Pinkett atop the school career list.
“It’s a team accomplishment,” said Denson, who received a congratulatory call from Pinkett. “It’s an honor just to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Jerome Bettis and Allen Pinkett.”
Denson surpassed 100 yards in each of his four games against Navy. Jackson didn’t misfire until the fourth quarter and finished 12-for-14 for 159 yards and a touchdown as Notre Dame won its seventh straight.
“We knew we could throw because their corners play so soft,” Jackson said. “We knew Navy would give us a fight because they’re the type of team that goes down until the end. But we definitely wanted to come out and make a statement.”
The Midshipmen helped the Irish by fumbling six times, losing half of them.
“We took advantage of turnovers and created turnovers as well,” Notre Dame coach Bob Davie said.
The Irish got the only score they needed on their second possession, moving 63 yards in 13 plays in a drive that featured four completions by Jackson and ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by fullback Jamie Spencer.
The Midshipmen then got to the Irish 23 before Tom Vanderhorst missed a 39-yard field goal try. It was to be Navy’s best scoring chance of the game.
Jackson responded by moving the Irish 77 yards, scrambling 33 yards on a second-and-24 play and gaining eight yards on a third-and-7. Denson broke Pinkett’s record early in the drive and ended the march with a 7-yard TD run.
Denson’s 14th touchdown of the season, an 18-yard run with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Late in the period, Jackson threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Johnson to make it 27-0.
A 37-yard field goal by Jim Sanson enabled Notre Dame to extend its streak of scoring in every quarter of five straight games.
The loss left Navy with yet another graduating class that never got the chance to experience a win over Notre Dame.
“That was my last shot,” defensive tackle Jason Snider said. “You can’t let a team score 30 points and expect to win the game. It’s disheartening.”