Irish go easy on Navy No. 10 Notre Dame prevails, 38-7

November 01, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When it finally ended, Navy defensive lineman Bob Kuberski could hardly hide his disappointment as he limped off the field and toward the Navy locker room.

Despite losing to Notre Dame, 38-7, yesterday in a loss that could have been worse if not for the generosity of the Fighting Irish, and despite being on the losing side of three blowouts against Notre Dame, Kuberski made it clear that he would welcome the chance to do it again.

"Hell, yeah," Kuberski said. "We love to play Notre Dame. I was telling someone last week that this is a good personal barometer, to see where you're at."

Where is Navy at? At 0-7, they're still the only winless team in Division I-A after being manhandled in every facet of the game by the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish (6-1-1) before a crowd of 58,769 at Giants Stadium. Despite Navy running a wishbone offense intended to limit the time Notre Dame had the ball, the Fighting Irish still easily came away with their 29th straight win over the Midshipmen in college football's longest continuous intersectional rivalry.

Notre Dame dominated from the outset, amassing 315 yards in the first half in taking a 31-0 halftime lead. Midway through the third quarter, Notre Dame coach Holtz had a good portion of his starters on the bench in a move that kept the score from becoming ridiculous.

"It was nice to get out of here with a win with no major injuries," Holtzsaid. "I would have liked to have seen us sharper and crisper. We didn't play as well as I think we need to."

But it was well enough to blow out Navy.

After stopping Navy's first drive, Notre Dame scored on a 5-yard run by Jeff Burris and never looked back. The second quarter was total Notre Dame domination, with the Fighting Irish scoring on each of its four possessions for 24 points.

For awhile it looked as though Notre Dame was trying to cover the 38-point spread by halftime.

Navy could do nothing right. A generous Navy defense allowed Notre Dame to convert 10 of 12 third-down plays (83 percent) in the first half. And out of the wishbone, Navy's of fense in the first 30 minutes gained just 75 total yards (three passing) and five first downs.

"I was very disappointed in our performance in the first half," Navy coach George Chaump said, the second straight week his team has played poorly in the first half. "We gave up too many plays on third down. On offense we were trying to eat up the clock, but we got behind. They widened their defense after they got up 17-0 to stop our option game."

Navy's only score came courtesy of the defense.

Trailing 31-0 in the fourth quarter, Navy defensive end David Shaw (first career interception) picked off a pass of Notre Dame reserve quarterback Kevin McDougal. On the next play Navy quarterback Jason Van Matre threw 22 yards to Tom Pritchard down the left sideline to keep the Midshipmen from being shut out by Notre Dame for the second straight year.

"We would have liked to have had the shutout," Holtz said. "The second half, we just wanted to get it over with."

At his postgame press conference, Holtz didn't appear happy about his team's performance.

But from a guy who makes every opponent out to be a national championship contender, it's hard to separate the facts from the hype.

"Offensively we're just not a good team with the exception of [quarterback] Rick Mirer," Holtz said.

Mirer completed a season-high 15 passes for 221 yards -- while playing just more than one half. "We're not physical and we're not tough. We have a tough road ahead."

Holtz actually said that he was leery about yesterday's game.

"I was scared to death coming into the game, I really was," Holtz said. "Thank goodness the passing game saved us today.

"I have to credit Navy," Holtz added.

"They never quit, and they hung in there. They played the game without a turnover."

While Holtz will be taking his team into its final three games attempting to position itself for one of the major bowl games, Navy is left with the easiest part of its schedule. The importance of the four remaining games against Tulane, Vanderbilt, Rice and Army is not lost on Chaump.

"Every team we played in the first seven games of our schedule was either undefeated or had lost just one game," said Chaump, whose team's schedule was rated the 23rd toughest in the country last week. "We've had the unfortunate experience of playing against experienced football teams.

"We've got to take these next four games and we've got to really regroup and capitalize," Chaump said. "That's what our goal is over these last four games, to finish strong. We have to see how we can overcome situations that are not pleasant."

And while on paper the final four games appear to be less difficult, the Navy players -- despite yesterday's blowout -- left Giants Stadium still thankful for the chance each year to play the tough games, like yesterday's against Notre Dame.

"A lot of people ask why, but just the chance of trying for one of the biggest upsets ever is worth playing for," Van Matre said. "They're a great team, but they're beatable. We just didn't play good enough to beat them today."

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