- Associated Press - Saturday, November 2, 2013

SOUTH BEND, Ind. —Apple-converted-space”>Navy’sApple-converted-space”> triple-option offense had Notre Dame flummoxed and flailing for most of the game.

In need of one stop with 68 seconds left in the fourth quarter, freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith — with some help — made the play the Fighting Irish so badly needed.

Smith and Eilar Hardy combined to snuff out an end-around byApple-converted-space”> Navy’sApple-converted-space”> Shawn Lynch on fourth-and-4 in Irish territory, and Notre Dame held on 38-34 Saturday.

The Midshipmen ran for 331 yards, 207 in the first half. OnApple-converted-space”> Navy’sApple-converted-space”> final drive, it ran the ball four straight plays for 18 yards and had it second-and-5 from the Notre Dame 32.

“It’s a scenario you want. On the road at Notre Dame, driving to win the game. It doesn’t get any better than that,”Apple-converted-space”> NavyApple-converted-space”> quarterback Keenan Reynolds said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Notre Dame’s hopes of returning to the Top 25 and hopes for a BCS bowl berth appeared tenuous at best.

But Reynolds, who had run for three touchdowns and thrown for another, tossed a pitch just out of reach of DeBrandon Sanders. Sanders fell on the ball at the 41 for a 9-yard loss. Reynolds completed a 10-yard pass to Casey Bolena to set up a fourth down.

Reynolds pitched the ball to Lynch on a reverse and for a moment it appeared he had room, but Smith quickly closed the gap and with the help from Hardy tackled Lynch for no gain.

“Luckily, Eilar was there to slow the guy down initially, and then I was there to make the play,” Smith said.

NavyApple-converted-space”> coach Ken Niumatalolo saidApple-converted-space”> NavyApple-converted-space”> was a step too slow on the play.

“Normally it should have been a fraction of a second sooner,” he said.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the Irish were fortunate to pull out the victory.

“They executed flawlessly today,” Kelly said. “They really put us in a position where we had to play great in the second half.”

NavyApple-converted-space”> had no turnovers, no penalties and held the ball for 37:36 while the Irish had it just 22:24.

Kelly said he wasn’t disappointed in the win.

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