• The rushing of Josh Adams and passing of Brandon Wimbush helped Notre Dame win despite having only 17:18 of possession time.
By Joan Niesen
November 18, 2017

When Navy scored about halfway through the third quarter to go up 17-10 over Notre Dame, it did so on its first passing touchdown in two weeks—three plays after the Midshipmen completed their first pass since Nov. 2. And maybe that’s where they got a bit too confident in their generally nonexistent passing game. In the fourth quarter, with 7:18 remaining, Navy quarterback Zach Abey threw a pick as the Midshipmen marched into Notre Dame territory, down 24-17.

Ultimately, that turnover cemented the game for Notre Dame, which played catch-up all evening in a back-and-forth game.

A week after its playoff hopes likely died, Notre Dame kept whatever slim chance it has of making college football’s final four alive—however average the Irish’s performance might have been Saturday in the 24-17 win. The game’s decisive play came on fourth down with just over a minute of play left; Abey pitched the ball to running back Darryl Bonner, who tossed an incomplete pass downfield. From there, it was all Notre Dame. The Irish held the ball for 1:16, getting their time of possession up to a whopping 17:18, and locked down the win.

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Most important for the Irish on Saturday was the performance of Josh Adams. The star running back, who’s been banged up in recent weeks, rushed for 106 yards despite the relative lack of field time the Irish offense saw. Adams hadn’t hit the 100-yard mark since he ran for 202 yards against NC State on October 28, and his 5.9 yards per carry was also his highest mark since that contest. Adams being healthy and back in form is huge for the Irish no matter where their postseason goes. The junior has been the heart of Notre Dame’s offense this season, and he passed the 3,000 career yards mark on Saturday.

Quarterback Brandon Wimbush also rebounded from a tough game last week at Miami, when he threw two interceptions in a blowout loss. Against Navy’s defense, Wimbush completed half his passes and threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t commit a turnover, and if Wimbush can limit his errors the way he did Saturday, Notre Dame’s offense hums.

The Irish will finish their season next Saturday at Stanford. At 9-2, the Irish have a chance at reaching the 10-win mark for the second time in three seasons, and though it’ll take a fair amount of chaos at the top of the standings to get Brian Kelly’s team into the playoff, the Irish still have a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl game.