Mids Get 'Special' Treatment

Navy Coach Paul Johnson shared his thoughts with an official during the first quarter of Saturday's win.
Navy Coach Paul Johnson shared his thoughts with an official during the first quarter of Saturday's win. "I'm very proud of our guys," Johnson said. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
By Christian Swezey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 5, 2007

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Nov. 4 -- Following a 34-16 loss to Notre Dame in 2001 -- number 38 in his team's losing streak in the series -- Navy interim coach Rick Lantz said: "One day, Navy is going to beat Notre Dame. And when they do, it's going to be very special."

That day came on Saturday, when the Midshipmen defeated the Fighting Irish, 46-44, in three overtimes before 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium.

It ended Navy's 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame, the longest such streak in NCAA history.

And as Lantz predicted, it was a special moment. Coach Paul Johnson said the team received a warm welcome when it arrived back in Annapolis late Saturday night.

"There were a lot of midshipmen there" to greet the team, Johnson said. "They seemed pretty excited. It was a fun time."

The magnitude of the victory will continue growing for a couple of days. Johnson almost certainly will have a deluge of e-mails waiting for him. Monday's classes were canceled at the school to honor the victory, Navy's first in the series since 1963.

There were several memorable moments on Saturday. When the Navy team took the field, the Notre Dame student section stood and politely cheered. Following the game, Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis made sure his team stood at attention behind the Navy players during the traditional playing of Navy's alma mater.

Afterward, he shook the hands of the Navy players around him.

In the third overtime, the Midshipmen took an eight-point lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from junior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to senior captain Reggie Campbell; the pair also combined on the two-point conversion attempt that becomes mandatory starting in the third overtime.

Navy's defense gave up a five-yard touchdown run by senior Travis Thomas. But it withstood a pass interference penalty and stopped Thomas short of the end zone on Notre Dame's two-point play.

"I'm very proud of our guys," Johnson said. "They kept fighting. It wasn't easy. We just made one more play than they did. We made our two-point conversion; they didn't."

The Midshipmen finished with 257 yards rushing, the third most against Notre Dame since at least 1963; their first 27 plays were runs. Yet an in-game adjustment to the passing game by Johnson and his staff worked well on Saturday.

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