Book it — Ir­ish have all of the good luck

QB’s 5 TD passes, Mids’ mis­takes make for bad day

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Bill Wag­ner

SOUTH BEND, IND. — Too many turnovers and too much Ian Book.

That was ba­si­cally the short story of what hap­pened to No. 23 Navy on a sunny Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Navy quar­ter­back Mal­colm Perry com­mit­ted three costly fum­bles and the home team cap­i­tal­ized. Mean­while, Notre Dame quar­ter­back Book was on tar­get from start to fin­ish as the Fight­ing Ir­ish built a big half­time lead and blew out the Mid­ship­men 52-20 be­fore a sell­out crowd of 74,080 at Notre Dame Sta­dium.

Book com­pleted 14 of 20 passes for 284 yards and five touch­downs for No. 16 Notre Dame (8-2), which took a 38-3 lead into half­time. Big wide re­ceiver Chase Clay­pool caught four touch­down passes and fin­ished with 117 re­ceiv­ing yards.

“We got our butts whooped and it started with me coach­ing,” Navy head coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “I thought I had our team ready, but ob­vi­ously we weren’t . ... They out-coached us and out­played us. They had a great plan on both sides of the ball.”

Perry’s game-break­ing run­ning abil­ity was a big rea­son the No. 23 Mid­ship­men (7-2) went into the con­test with hope for an up­set. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound se­nior has been out­stand­ing all sea­son as the con­duc­tor of Navy’s triple op­tion but was not on his game.

Perry rushed for 117 yards on 25 car­ries to lead the of­fense, but those num­bers were over­shad­owed by his fum­bles — all of which could be at­trib­uted to care­less ball-han­dling. Notre Dame de­fen­sive end Khalid Ka­reem forced two of the fum­bles.

“When you play teams that are bet­ter than you, you can’t turn the ball over and you can’t give up big plays,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “Against a team like that, ev­ery mis­take gets mag­ni­fied.”

It was sur­pris­ing be­cause ball se­cu­rity has been a strength of Perry’s this sea­son. He had fum­bled only twice in eight games de­spite run­ning the ball 157 times and drop­ping back to pass an­other 53 times.

“We knew go­ing into the game we had to play al­most per­fect to beat these guys,” Perry ac­knowl­edged. “Fum­bling doesn’t help you beat any­body. The fum­bles hurt and I take full own­er­ship of that.

“It was a com­bi­na­tion of a lot of things, ex­tremely avoid­able things. That’s some­thing I’m go­ing to go watch [on film], learn from it and do bet­ter next week.”

Mid­dle line­backer Drew White recorded 10 tack­les and made a fum­ble re­cov­ery to lead the Notre Dame de­fense, which lim­ited Navy’s start­ing of­fense to 171 to­tal yards.

Both Mid­ship­men touch­down drives, which ac­counted for 149 of their 360 to­tal yards, came af­ter both teams had pulled all the starters.

Notre Dame, which won its 17th straight at home, marched 75 yards in 11 plays and took al­most 5 1⁄2 min­utes off the clock on the open­ing pos­ses­sion. Book hit Clay­pool on a cross­ing route for a 7-yard scor­ing strike to give the Ir­ish a 7-0 lead at the 9:39 mark.

Navy mounted an im­pres­sive drive on its open­ing pos­ses­sion.

Perry used mis­di­rec­tion and mid-line plays to pick up 28 yards on four straight keep­ers. Carothers then gained 13 yards on back-to-back full­back dives.

The Mid­ship­men had first down at the home team’s 24-yard line af­ter Perry con­verted a fourth-and-3. How­ever, the promis­ing march went up in smoke on the next play af­ter Perry fum­bled while be­ing tack­led by Ka­reem.

“There was a lot of mo­men­tum go­ing and we were driv­ing it on them, so it was de­flat­ing,” said Navy se­nior cen­ter and cap­tain Ford Hig­gins said. “Ev­ery­one knows that in our of­fense turnovers are killer. We had way too many to­day.”

Line­backer As­mir Bi­lal re­cov­ered at the Navy 39-yard line and it took just two plays for the Fight­ing Ir­ish to make it 14-0. Wide re­ceiver Lawrence Keys took a re­verse for 11 yards and a late hit by safety Kevin Bren­nan tacked on an­other 15 yards.

Book later dropped a bomb right into the arms of Clay­pool, who breezed into the end zone to com­plete a 47-yard scor­ing strike that put Notre Dame ahead 21-0 with 23 sec­onds left in the open­ing pe­riod.

Navy had an­other good drive go­ing on its sec­ond pos­ses­sion, pick­ing up 22 yards and two first downs on five straight run­ning plays to ap­proach mid­field. That is when Ka­reem did it again, swat­ting the ball out of Perry hand’s as he turned up­field on an op­tion keeper.

Fel­low de­fen­sive end Jamir Jones re­cov­ered the loose ball at the visi­tors’ 39. Four plays later, Book and Clay­pool hooked up on their third touch­down toss, with the quar­ter­back throw­ing a jump ball in the end zone and the 6-foot-5 wide re­ceiver out-muscling cor­ner­back Cameron Kin­ley for a 3-yard touch­down.

“I think our ex­e­cu­tion just wasn’t there to­day,” Navy se­nior line­backer Nizaire Cro­mar­tie said. “We had a lot of busts that led to big plays. They had re­ceivers run­ning wide open down the mid­dle.

“It was a lack of pres­sure, lack of cov­er­age, not ex­e­cut­ing the play the right way. You can’t make big mis­takes against big-time teams. They’ll take ad­van­tage of those things.”

Navy won the time-of-pos­ses­sion bat­tle in the first half by more than three min­utes and still trailed by 35 points. That’s be­cause four of Notre Dame’s touch­down drives lasted 2 1⁄2 min­utes or less.

“We were all shell-shocked,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “We’ve been play­ing so well and [we] came into this game [with] a lot of mo­men­tum. We def­i­nitely didn’t see that com­ing.”

Navy was forced to punt on the open­ing pos­ses­sion of the sec­ond half and Notre Dame marched 78 yards in seven plays to tack on a sixth touch­down and truly turn the con­test into a rout.

Book and Clay­pool con­nected once again, with the wide re­ceiver once again out-jump­ing Kin­ley for a 50-50 ball in the end zone as the ad­van­tage grew to 45-3.

Ni­u­mat­alolo threw in the towel late in the third quar­ter, re­plac­ing Perry with backup Perry Ol­son.

Olsen in­jected a spark into the of­fense — di­rect­ing a 74-yard drive that pro­duced Navy’s first touch­down. The 6-foot, 210pound fresh­man threw a 43-yard scor­ing pass to wide re­ceiver My­chal Cooper, who got wide open off play-ac­tion and trot­ted into the end zone.


Notre Dame wide re­ceiver Chase Clay­pool makes one of his touch­down re­cep­tions Satur­day in front of Navy’s Cameron Kin­ley.

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