Midshipmen Can't Keep Up
Sunday, October 29, 2006
BALTIMORE, Oct. 28 -- Against Navy on Saturday, No. 11 Notre Dame took its opening possession and kicked a field goal. The Midshipmen took their first possession and missed a field goal attempt. Then Notre Dame scored a touchdown. So did Navy. Then Notre Dame scored another touchdown. Navy did the same.
But Notre Dame kept scoring, and its defense held the Midshipmen in check in the second half. The result was a 38-14 victory for the Fighting Irish before a sold-out crowd of 71,851 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Notre Dame (7-1) has won 43 in a row over the Midshipmen dating from 1964. It is the longest winning streak for one team over another in Division I-A history.
Saturday's game looked like many in the streak. With sophomore quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada making his first start, Navy (5-3) had 211 rushing yards in the first half and trailed 24-14 at halftime.
Coach Paul Johnson's message at halftime was simple: The Midshipmen still were in the game. In Navy's past 18 games dating from last season, it had scored on the opening possession of the second half 14 times; 11 were touchdowns.
On Saturday, the opening drive resulted in a three-and-out.
The Fighting Irish drove for a touchdown -- on a 19-yard scramble by senior quarterback Brady Quinn -- to take a 31-14 lead with 8 minutes 10 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Midshipmen managed just 60 yards rushing and 18 passing in the second half.
"I thought in the first half we had kind of hung with them," Johnson said. "For a while we were matching them score for score . . . but we can't match scores with them. Eventually you are going to fall behind."
Kaheaku-Enhada started after senior Brian Hampton suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 34-0 loss to No. 16 Rutgers on Oct. 14. Kaheaku-Enhada certainly had the Midshipmen in the game early.
Trailing 10-0, Navy went 80 yards in nine plays, and Kaheaku-Enhada scored on a one-yard run to cut the deficit to 10-7 with 11:39 left in the first half. He also scored on a one-yard touchdown run that made it 17-14 with 2:43 left in the first half.
Notre Dame answered that, however, with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Quinn to senior Rhema McKnight that made the score 24-14 with 1:19 left in the first half. Senior Keenan Little appeared to have good coverage on the play; he was next to McKnight's left shoulder. But Quinn threw the ball to McKnight's right shoulder, and he made a leaping catch.
Quinn finished 18 of 25 for 295 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. In four starts against Navy, he threw eight touchdown passes and one interception. It was the second straight year Navy did not force Notre Dame to punt.