The concerns leading up to Saturday’s game were as follows. Would the Irish defense be able to stop the Triple Option? Can the Irish offense move the ball and score when they had possession? Will the home winning streak end if the two previous question’s could not be answered in a positive manner? In the end it was that simple. The answers to those questions were in the hands of the coaching staff and players. A non positive action to either one of those would have opened a whole other area of questions on this football team.
In a comparison to last season’s games against opponents, the Irish always had a strong first possession drive. Opponents would win the toss and then defer giving the Irish an opportunity to get the ball and march down the field. That has not been the story this season. Yeah, there have been a couple times where the Irish drove the field on an opening possession, but not with the same frequency this season. When Navy won the toss, it was a surprise to see them defer. In retrospect, it was a mistake to defer.
But before you can have a game, you must have the ceremonial flyover.
Prior to the start of the game a little foreshadowing was afoot. A tweet that could have been the kiss of death or seen as a sports jinx, ended up being a prelude of things to come in the game.
The point of nervousness that was going through the fan base on 3 and 16, then 4 and 1 on the Navy 21, probably was this drive is coming to an end. Tony Jones Jr fought for all the two yards he got on the fourth down and gets the first down for the. That hasn’t happened very often for the Irish. The rush eventually leads to the seven yard TD pass from Ian Book to Chase Claypool. That drive was the best opening drive all season for the Irish. A solid performance by the entire Irish offensive unit.
The one thing missing from the defensive side of the ball was the turnovers. In this game, it was one of Shake Down The Thunder Sports “keys to victory.” A key turnover occurred on Navy’s first possession. Driving the field as Navy always does and chewing up clock, Khalid Kareem forces Malcolm Perry for a three yard loss and then Perry fumbles it, recovered by Asmar Bilal at the ND24.
Two plays later after an eleven yard pass to Lawrence Keys III, Book goes to the deep end and hits Claypool for a forty seven yard TD pass. This puts the Irish up 14-0 with 3:11 left in the first quarter. This starts to answer the questions that opened up this game review.
To start the second quarter Navy once again is moving the ball. Once again Khalid Kareem forces another fumble on Perry, this time Jamir Jonesis there is there to pounce on it at the Navy39. The Kareem is literally pounding the ball.
Book once again takes to an aerial assault on the Navy defense. Book’s radar picked on on Chris Finke for 15 yards, Claypool for 14 yards, Book had a ground attack for seven yards on the QB keeper, the back to the air to Claypool for his third touchdown of the game to put the Irish up 21-0. That’s fourteen points off of turnovers.
The ensuing Navy drive was shortened by the combo ofJeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Ovie Oghoufo. After an illegal block on Chris Finke’s punt return for a TD, the Irish started their second drive at the ND30. The absolutely next play, Braden Lenzy is on the receiving end of a Book TD pass for seventy yards. The score is now 28-0.
Kyle Hamilton wanted to make his presence known as well. with a key stop on fourth and one, Hamilton brings Perry to the ground forcing the Midshipmen to turn the ball over on downs.
Touchdowns were no the only method of scoring points on Saturday. Jonathan Doerer was called upon after the Irish tactical ground plan came up a bit short. Stalled at the fourteen yard line, Doerer successfully completed the Field Goal attempt from thirty two yards out .
The Irish defense department was on task on every possession. Getting to Perry started happening with ease. When the QB is one of your main parts of your rush offense, you open up a lot of chances for something to happen. Again Perry fumbles the ball on a rush and this time Drew White is there for the recovery.
The Irish take over again on the Navy 24. This drive was heavy on the run, Jones Jr accumulated a fifteen yards of which two yards was for a TD run. Before the TD was confirmed, a review of the ball being fumbled actually resulted in a reversal and Jones Jr being credited for the score.
The last drive of the half saw an opportunity for Navy to get points on the board. The big difference on this drive was the fact that Perry did not fumble or turn the ball over on downs. Actually he had the biggest play of the Navy game at that point with a forty six yard QB keeper, setting up what would be a drive resulting in three points to end the quarter on a Bijan Nichols twenty seven yard successful Field Goal as time expired, 38-3 the Irish lead at the half.
The second hardest part on winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half is when you don’t score on that opening drive. On the first drive of the half, Alohi Gilman, had two and a half tackles. Reminding his former teammates that he is now Captain on the Fightin’ Irish squad. The first Irish possession of the half kind of resembled the first drive of the first quarter. The two plays bigger than the Claypool TD reception for twenty yards was the pass from Book to Keys III for 27 yards. Book scrambled and had to reverse his mode of direction. Book was asked in the press conference about this play and here is his response.
“Probably should have thrown it to somebody else if we’re going to be honest, just because of the look we had. It was really one of the plays I wanted back. Was able just to extend the play. I knew I wanted to go to my left with all the receivers already over on that side. Saw Keys coming to the sideline. Perfect. I knew I had some space. ”
“I’m confident enough to make that throw, and glad it worked out. He did a great job of really working for meas well when I am moving around. All the receivers working for me to make a play and not giving up, and he did a great job with that.”
The fourth quarter took on its own look. The defense decided, enough of the offense scoring we are going to get involved as well. Oh and did they, or should we say Paul Moala got involved. On Navy’s first possession of the quarter after a failed pass, Perry Olsen goes in motion to pitch the ball and the man of the hour is in the right spot at the right time. Moala tips the pitch away, (which is ruled a fumble) gains control of the ball. Moala takes it twenty seven yards to the end zone. That’s how you finish off a team. The final score goes the way of the Irish 52-20.
The Navy may have won the time of possession with thirty six minutes of clock to the Irish’s twenty four minutes, but the Irish won the game.
Post Game Press Conference
Ian Book Press Conference
Chase Claypool Press Conference
🏈🏈🏈 Chase Claypool 7 Receptions, 117 Receiving Yards, 4 TD’s, Long 47 Yards
🏈🏈 Ian Book 14-20 Complete vs Attempted, 284 Passing Yards, 5 TD Passes, 0 INT, 31 Yards Rushing on 5 Attempts
🏈 Lawrence Keys III 2 Receptions, 32 Receiving Yards, Long 27, 1 Rush, 11 Yards
🏈🏈🏈 Pau Moala 2 Total Tackles, 1 Solo, 1 Tackle For Loss, 2 Quarterback Hurries, 1 Forced Fumble and return for a 27 Yard TD
🏈🏈 Khalid Kareem 3 Total Tackles, 3 Solo, 2 Tackle For Loss, 1 Break Up, 2 Forced Fumbles
🏈 Drew White 10 Total Tackles, 6 Solo, 1 Quarterback Hurry
Next up for the Fightin’ Irish is the Boston College Eagles. It’s Senior Day so make sure you get there early to send of the Seniors and Grad Students. 2:30 P.M. EST is kick-off.
Cheers and Go Irish! 🍀🏈⚡