- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | The scene at Notre Dame Stadium last year will forever be part of Navy football lore.

Linebacker Irv Spencer led a gang tackle of Notre Dame tailback Travis Thomas on a two-point conversion attempt in triple overtime. The entire Navy sideline poured onto the field in a show of unbridled joy, having just ended a 43-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish with a 46-44 victory.

Reflecting on the upset, Navy slotback Shun White marveled.

“Looking at film, it looked like we had 30 guys on defense. There were white-and-gold jerseys all over the ball. It was crazy,” he said. “It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt as far as playing on a football field. I’ve never felt anything that great.”

The Midshipmen (6-3) have a chance to start a streak of their own when they play Notre Dame (5-4) on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, though they get the sense that few outside the program think that’s likely.

Last year’s win was deemed an indictment of Irish coach Charlie Weis. Another stumble would be perceived as another setback for the embattled coach, but the Mids view it differently.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, last year was a fluke. You can’t do it again,’” White said. “So we want to show everybody that last year wasn’t a fluke and we can come out and compete with these guys.”

Added quarterback Jarod Bryant: “Now we’ve got confidence; we know we’ve beat them before. I still don’t think anyone thinks we can win, so we’re going to go in there and fight and play hard and see what happens.”

Bryant will be back under center for the Mids after being relegated to holding for field goals and extra points in Navy’s last game Nov. 1 against Temple. The senior’s last start came against SMU on Oct. 25, but he was knocked out of that game in the second quarter with a shoulder sprain. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who started last year’s win against Notre Dame, is inactive with a lingering hamstring injury.

Luckily for Navy, sophomore Ricky Dobbs has stepped up. He ran for 224 yards and four touchdowns after Bryant went down against SMU and quarterbacked the Mids to a 20-point, fourth-quarter comeback against Temple.

Dobbs’ emergence has given coach Ken Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper a new wrinkle in the offense. The two discussed inserting Dobbs at quarterback to give the Irish a different look but said they haven’t settled on anything.

“We’re not really sure what the formula is,” Niumatalolo said. “Obviously if we’re doing very good with Jarod, we wouldn’t want to do anything to break up our chemistry. But we might need to put [Dobbs] in there to give us a spark. It all depends on how things are going. After what he’s done the past two weeks, we’re definitely not afraid to put him in.”

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