Irish hold off Navy for 38-34 win

TOM COYNE Associated Press Published:

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Navy's triple-option offense had Notre Dame flummoxed and flailing for most of the game.

In need of one stop with 68 seconds left in the fourth quarter, freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith -- with some help -- made the play the Fighting Irish so badly needed.

Smith and Eilar Hardy combined to snuff out an end-around by Navy's Shawn Lynch on fourth-and-4 in Irish territory, and Notre Dame held on 38-34 Saturday.

The Midshipmen ran for 331 yards, 207 in the first half. On Navy's final drive, it ran the ball four straight plays for 18 yards and had it second-and-5 from the Notre Dame 32.

"It's a scenario you want. On the road at Notre Dame, driving to win the game. It doesn't get any better than that," Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds said. "It's a dream come true."

Notre Dame's hopes of returning to the Top 25 and hopes for a BCS bowl berth appeared tenuous at best.

But Reynolds, who had run for three touchdowns and thrown for another, tossed a pitch just out of reach of DeBrandon Sanders. Sanders fell on the ball at the 41 for a 9-yard loss. Reynolds completed a 10-yard pass to Casey Bolena to set up a fourth down.

Reynolds pitched the ball to Lynch on a reverse and for a moment it appeared he had room, but Smith quickly closed the gap and with the help from Hardy tackled Lynch for no gain.

"Luckily, Eilar was there to slow the guy down initially, and then I was there to make the play," Smith said.

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said Navy was a step too slow on the play.

"Normally it should have been a fraction of a second sooner," he said.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the Irish were fortunate to pull out the victory.

"They executed flawlessly today," Kelly said. "They really put us in a position where we had to play great in the second half."

Navy had no turnovers, no penalties and held the ball for 37:36 while the Irish had it just 22:24.

Kelly said he wasn't disappointed in the win.

"There's no asterisk next to this one. This is a W. We're excited about it," he said.

Notre Dame (7-2) improved to 11-1 in November in four seasons under Kelly and clinched its fourth consecutive winning season, the first time that's happened since 1995-98. The Irish also keep alive their hopes for a BCS bowl berth. Navy lost for the third time in the past four games.

Notre Dame has won its past 10 games decided by a touchdown or less, tying Kelly with Knute Rockne for the second-longest such streak in school history. Elmer Layden holds the record with 12.

The bright spot for Notre Dame was the play of freshman running back Tarean Folston, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard plunge and rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries, with 116 yards in the second half. He had rushed for only 116 yards on 22 carries before Saturday.

"There was just a big mess, so I just jumped over," Folston said of his TD run.

Notre Dame finished with 506 yards total offense, averaging 9 yards per play, the most for the Irish since 1998. Tommy Rees threw touchdown passes to TJ Jones and Ben Koyack, George Atkinson III scored on a 41-yard run and Cam McDaniel added a TD. Rees was 12-of-20 passing for 242 yards with two interceptions. It was the third time this season Rees has thrown at least two interceptions. The Irish lost the other two against Michigan and against Oklahoma.

TOP 25

NO. 8 AUBURN 35, ARKANSAS 17

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Tre Mason rushed for 168 yards and four touchdowns as No. 8 Auburn earned first-year coach Gus Malzahn a win in his return to Arkansas.

Mason scored on runs of 9, 4 and 5 and 12 yards as the Tigers (8-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) won their fifth in a row in Malzahn's first game in Fayetteville since leaving the Razorbacks as an assistant following the 2006 season.

NO. 9 CLEMSON 59, VIRGINIA 10

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score and No. 9 Clemson broke the game open with three touchdowns in the last 4:18 of the first half in a 59-10 victory against Virginia.

The Hampton, Va., native became the Atlantic Coast Conference's career leader in touchdown-making with a 33-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to start the scoring for the Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC). It broke a tie at 112 TDs with North Carolina State's Philip Rivers. Boyd later added TD throws of 10 yards to Roderick McDowell and 96 yards to Watkins, and scored on a 1-yard run 13 seconds before halftime to make it 35-7.

NO. 10 MISSOURI 31, TENNESSEE 3

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Maty Mauk threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, leading No. 10 Missouri's dominant and resilient effort in a victory over Tennessee.

The Tigers (8-1, 4-1 SEC) responded smartly a week after squandering a 17-point cushion in the fourth quarter of a double-overtime loss to South Carolina. Andrew Baggett banged another chip-shot field goal attempt off the left goalpost, eerily similar to his game-ending misfire a week earlier, but instead of heartbreak they still took a 24-3 cushion into halftime.

Missouri forced three turnovers and committed none in Mauk's best game in three starts in place of injured James Franklin. Mauk had 114 yards on 13 carries, and threw touchdown passes to Dorial Green-Beckham, L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas in the first half. Franklin (shoulder sprain) warmed up before the game.

Tennessee (4-5, 1-4) is 0-4 on the road, all but one of them blowouts.

NO. 14 S. CAROLINA 34, MISS. ST. 16

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Connor Shaw threw for four touchdowns, Mike Davis ran for 128 yards to move past 1,000 yards this season and No. 14 South Carolina tied a school record with its 15th straight home victory, 34-16 over Mississippi State.

Shaw matched his personal best for TD throws after missing two days of practice with a virus. Davis, the SEC's leading rusher, had his seventh game reaching the century mark and became the team's first 1,000-yard rusher since Marcus Lattimore gained 1,197 yards his freshman season three years ago.

South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) won its seventh in row over the Bulldogs (4-4, 1-3) and tied the record for consecutive victories at Wlliams-Brice Stadium, equaling the mark set from 1978-80. The Gamecocks will get the chance to break the record in two weeks when they close league play at home against Florida.

NO. 21 N. ILLINOIS 63, UMASS 19

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jordan Lynch ran for 119 yards and four touchdowns and threw for another in just over a half to lead No. 21 Northern Illinois to a victory over Massachusetts.

The Huskies (9-0, 5-0 Mid-American Conference) scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and six of their seven drives in the first half. Cameron Stingily rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Tommylee Lewis also ran one in for Northern Illinois.

Lynch, who leads all active FBS players in rushing yards, also completed 10 of 14 passes for 160 yards and threw for at least one touchdown for the 22nd consecutive game. He played one series in the third quarter.

NO. 22 WISCONSIN 28, IOWA 9

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- James White ran for 132 yards and a pair of late touchdowns as 22nd-ranked Wisconsin overwhelmed Iowa for its third straight win.

Joel Stave added two touchdown passes for the Badgers (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten), who are bowl eligible for the 12th year in a row.

Wisconsin's Pat Muldoon intercepted Iowa backup C.J. Beathard at the Hawkeyes 25-yard line with 7:43 left, setting up an 11-yard TD run by White.

White added a 2-yard touchdown with 1:35 left for the Badgers, who won despite a season-low 62 yards rushing from Melvin Gordon.

Hawkeyes quarterback Jake Rudock had 109 yards passing for the Hawkeyes (5-4, 2-3) before leaving the game in the third quarter with an apparent left leg injury.

BIG TEN

PENN STATE 24, ILLINOIS 17, OT

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Christian Hackenberg hit Kyle Carter with a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime and Ryan Keiser sealed the win with an end zone interception, lifting Penn State over Illinois.

Bill Belton rushed for 202 yards, the first Nittany Lion (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) to hit the 200-yard mark since Larry Johnson in 2002.

Penn State's Sam Ficken kicked a 35-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into OT.

Hackenberg, who threw for 240 yards, zipped a perfect pass over the middle to Carter for the winner.

NEBRASKA 27, NORTHWESTERN 24

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Jordan Westerkamp caught Ron Kellogg III's tipped desperation heave to the end zone with no time left, giving Nebraska a victory over Northwestern.

The Cornhuskers looked like they were finished after Northwestern took a three-point lead with 1:20 left. They started their final drive at their 17 with no timeouts.

Ameer Abdullah caught a short pass and stretched to convert a fourth-and-15. Then, with four seconds on the clock, Kellogg dropped back for a final play. The strong-armed Kellogg let fly a ball that was tipped by Northwestern's Anthony Walker in the end zone. Westerkamp was there to snatch it, bringing the entire Nebraska bench running onto the field in celebration. The play was confirmed on video review.

Jeff Budzien had kicked a 21-yard, tie-breaking field goal with 1:20 left after Tyler Scott's interception set up Northwestern inside the Nebraska 10.

MINNESOTA 42, INDIANA 39

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Linebacker Aaron Hill recovered a fumble by Indiana's Tevin Coleman with 25 seconds remaining and surging Minnesota held on to beat Indiana.

Minnesota (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) led 35-13 midway through the third quarter before the Hoosiers stormed back for a 39-35 lead on Nate Sudfeld's 30-yard touchdown pass to Cody Latimer with 5:33 remaining. But Philip Nelson found Maxx Williams for a 50-yard scoring pass on Minnesota's ensuing possession.

Indiana (3-5, 1-3) then drove to the Gophers' 9-yard line before Sudfeld threw a lateral on second-and-goal that Coleman juggled. Hill scooped up the bouncing football to secure Minnesota's third straight victory under acting coach Tracy Claeys.

Nelson went 16 of 23 for 298 yards and four touchdowns. David Cobb rushed 29 times for 188 yards and a score for Minnesota. Coleman ran 14 times for 108 yards and a touchdown for Indiana before his fateful mistake.

MAC

AKRON 16, KENT STATE 7

AKRON -- Jawon Chisholm rushed for 151 yards on 27 carries and Robert Stein kicked three field goals to give Akron a win over Kent State.

The Zips (3-7, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) took an early lead when Zach D'Orazio caught a lateral screen from Kyle Pohl and threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to L.T. Smith.

The Golden Flashes (2-8, 1-5) tied up the game midway through the second quarter when Trayion Durham ran for a three-yard score.

Stein kicked a late 28-yard field goal to give Akron a 10-7 halftime lead. He added field goals of 27 and 29 in the fourth quarter to make it a two-possession game.

Akron shut the door on Kent State in the fourth quarter as Johnny Robinson, Malachi Freeman and Martel Durant each intercepted Colin Reardon, halting the last three drives of the game.

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