- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For 27 minutes, Navy looked the part of formidable foe against Notre Dame. But a few mistakes at the end of the first half proved otherwise.

The Fighting Irish scored a pair of touchdowns in the final minutes before halftime and defeated the Midshipmen 42-21 in front of 80,795 on a majestic afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium.

With the score tied 7-7, the Irish gave the ball up on downs and Navy quickly moved into Notre Dame territory. Quarterback Lamar Owens was thrown for a loss on third-and-2 and then came up a half a football short on fourth down.

After a 12-yard touchdown for Notre Dame’s Travis Thomas, the Mids (5-4) started another solid drive. A botched option pitch between Owens and fullback Adam Ballard gave the ball back to the Irish (7-2) with 2:29 left.

They needed only three plays and 21 seconds before Darius Walker scored from 13 yards out. Navy went three-and-out on the next series and a short punt put the Irish in position to score again. Brady Quinn connected with his tight end, Anthony Fasano, on an 8-yard scoring strike and Notre Dame suddenly led 28-7.

“For us to be successful and have a chance today, we needed to play close to perfect,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “That’s hard to do.”

Navy continued to move the ball in the second half, but the Irish offensive juggernaut was too much to handle. The Mids rarely blitzed, often dropping eight defenders into coverage. Quinn had as much time as he needed to survey the zone defense and pick it apart.

The junior quarterback completed 22 of 31 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. He was not sacked and rarely was forced to scramble.

Even when no one was open, he was able to heave a jump ball into the end zone on the first possession of the game and 6-foot-5 wideout Maurice Stovall went up and grabbed it for one his three touchdown catches.

“We knew coming in that they had a very good offensive football team and nothing I saw today changed my mind,” Johnson said. “We had trouble getting pressure and when you have gifted receivers like they do and a great supporting cast, [Quinn] is going to light you up and he did.”

Quinn continued his assault on the Irish record book, becoming the career leader in touchdown pass with 53 and eclipsing the single-season record for yards. His interception ended a team record streak of 130 consecutive passes without one.

Walker had a big day as well, grinding out 118 yards on 19 carries. Notre Dame amassed 505 yards — the sixth time this season it has eclipsed 500.

“They are a really great football team and they made plays that athletes who play on Sundays make,” linebacker Rob Caldwell said. Caldwell grew up about an hour from Notre Dame’s campus and led the Mids with 14 tackles in his first game in the stadium.

The Mids had one of their worst days statistically, gaining a season-low 314 yards. Long drives have been hard to come by this season, but Navy opened with a 16-play, 68-yard march that lasted nearly eight minutes.

Despite the 21-point halftime deficit, the Mids came out of the break and went 80 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown.

“I think we proved today that we can move the ball on anybody,” Owens said. “It is just up to us not to stop ourselves and not make mistakes and turn the ball over.”

Notes — Junior fullback Matt Hall left the game after his first carry with a sprained knee. He did not return and will have an MRI tomorrow. … Notre Dame’s NCAA-record winning streak against Navy is now at 42 games.

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