Notre Dame outlasts Navy on rain-soaked Senior Day

Coming off a crushing defeat at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes last weekend, the Fighting Irish said they simply needed a chance to return to the field and get back to their winning ways. After a hard-fought 24-17 victory over Navy, that's exactly what happened.

"Welcome to Midwest football in November," said head coach Brian Kelly after the game. 

Through blustery winds and constant rain, Notre Dame outlasted a tough Navy squad, surviving its first one-possession game in more than two months.

"Good, gritty, tough football. [We] got that close win that everybody's been waiting for, so we've checked that box."

The home finale saw 26 seniors recognized before kickoff, and against a tough triple-option offense, it was senior captain Greer Martini leading a solid defensive performance.

"This university means so much to me, it's pretty emotional," said Martini. "I'm just so glad that I was given an opportunity to come out here and get a W in my last day. I just wanted to be on the field as long as possible. I'll never get a chance to play there again, so I just wanted to soak it all in."

Martini ended his career at Notre Dame Stadium with a bang: 15 tackles, and 11 in the first half, which were both high marks for his time in the blue and gold.

The Irish defense was on the field for 42 minutes, and Martini said it certainly felt like it.

"I was pretty tired to be honest. It's about getting critical stops at critical points, like that fourth down on the last play of the game. That's a big deal for us to get that stop."

With only seven possessions, the Irish offense came through when it mattered most.

Brandon Wimbush accounted for all three of Notre Dame's touchdowns on the day. That included two TD passes to Kevin Stepherson, who put up a career high 103 receiving yards and scored the game-winner in the fourth quarter.

"You see from the results that [Stepherson] is such a huge factor in our offense," said Wimbush, "and he just adds to the already dynamic receiving core."

While getting a win for the seniors was the main goal, it also kept alive hope for a 10-win season and maybe more."

"The [seniors] can be in an elite class," said Kelly. "Two out of the last three years, winning 10 games or more. 10 is the number, but they can win 11."

That 11th win could be big for the Irish, as a New Year's Six bowl is still possible. However, the Irish will have to win on the road to make that happen, as they travel to Stanford for the regular season finale next Saturday.

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