SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Brandon Wimbush threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score as No. 9 Notre Dame rallied in the rain and wind to beat Navy 24-17 Saturday.
Wearing throwback uniforms with the name Rockne on the back of every player’s jersey and helmets designed to evoke the leather tops from the era of Knute Rockne, one of the Fighting Irish’s most famous names, Notre Dame (9-2, No. 8 College Football Playoff) kept their slim national championship hopes alive heading into their regular-season finale next Saturday at Stanford.
Wimbush, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in Notre Dame’s 41-8 loss at No. 2 Miami two Saturdays ago, connected with Kevin Stepherson twice and added his 14th rushing TD of the year as the Irish scored on three straight possessions late in the longest-running matchup between teams from different regions of the country, dating to 1927.
Running back Josh Adams, who was limited to 62 rushing yards by injuries in Notre Dame’s previous two games against Wake Forest and Miami, topped the century mark for the seventh time, finishing with 106 yards on 18 carries.
The Irish outgained the Midshipmen (6-4) 327-318, but Navy outrushed Notre Dame 277-163 and had a huge advantage in time of possession, 42:42 to 17:18.
Notre Dame didn’t secure the victory until there was 1:28 left in the game. After a timeout on a fourth-and-5 at Notre Dame’s 25, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo opted for some trickery.
Quarterback Zach Abey pitched the ball to slotback Darryl Bonner, who passed downfield to wide receiver Tyler Carmona, who was open for a moment. But Carmona slipped on the wet Notre Dame Stadium turf, the pass fell incomplete and Notre Dame twice took a knee to run the clock out.
Junior Zach Abey, who sat out Navy’s 43-40 victory over SMU with an injury, returned to direct the triple-option attack and finished with 87 yards rushing, matching fullback Anthony Gargiulo. Abey scored on a 1-yard run and only threw the ball six times for 41 yards, including a 12-yard TD to Craig Scott.
Navy: The Midshipmen wouldn’t let the Irish play with the football. Navy entered leading the nation in time of possession with its average of 35:47, and after three quarters already had possessed the ball for 33:39.
Notre Dame: At 9-2, Notre Dame still has an outside chance at one of the four berths in the College Football Playoff. The Irish will need a lot of help, however, and likely are headed to one of the New Year’s six bowls if they win Saturday in the regular-season finale at Stanford.
Navy: Midshipmen travel to Houston next Friday.
Notre Dame: Irish travel to Stanford next Saturday.
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