Notre Dame crushes Navy in opener in Ireland

Notre Dame 50, Navy 10

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DUBLIN — Notre Dame's trip to Ireland could not have gone much better.

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Notre Dame running back George Atkinson (right) celebrates with Theo Riddick after Atkinson's touchdown on Saturday.  PETER MORRISON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
PETER MORRISON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Notre Dame running back George Atkinson (right) celebrates with Theo Riddick after Atkinson's touchdown on Saturday.

The Fighting Irish eased in their new quarterback, showed they have a couple of capable replacements for their suspended star running back and even got a touchdown from a 300-pound defensive lineman.

Theo Riddick and George Atkinson both ran for two scores and defensive end Stephon Tuitt returned a fumble 77 yards for another TD as Notre Dame routed Navy 50-10 in Saturday's season opener in Ireland.

A crowd of 49,000, mostly visiting Americans, filled Dublin's Aviva Stadium for the first U.S. college game in Ireland since 1996, when the same two teams played in the Emerald Isle Classic.

It was no classic, regardless of the enthusiasm of the fans, who did the wave even as both sides sent in substitutes in fourth-quarter garbage time.

The Fighting Irish dominated the game, running the ball at will against Navy's undersized defense and showing no signs of missing starter Cierre Wood. Riddick gained 107 yards on 19 carries, Atkinson 99 on just nine carries, leaving the Midshipmen and their outnumbered fans crestfallen at the end.

Last year's starter Tommy Rees returns from suspension this week, and Brian Kelly was noncommittal about Golson's hold on the job. Still, the coach has said all along he'd like one quarterback to seize the job, and Golson gave little reason for Kelly to worry.

Kelly said he was pleased with Golson's performance.

"I was. He made some good decisions and moved our offense. We put 50 points on the board, so that's a pretty good start."

Golson, who finished 12 of 18 for 144 yards, often looked best on the move. But he did make one second-quarter mistake that gave Navy brief momentum threw an interception into double coverage.

Quarterback Trey Miller completed 14 of 19 passes for 192 yards, but Navy's triple-option ground threat managed only 149 yards rushing on 40 carries. Miller carried the ball 20 times for 16 yards and fumbled four times, losing two.

Notre Dame outgained Navy on the ground for the first time since 2008.

"We got out of our element early, so we had to pass the ball more today," he said.

Notre Dame's defensive leader, inside linebacker Manti Te'o, recovered one fumble and intercepted Miller's final pass of the day, an underthrown ball into triple coverage. Surprisingly, they were his first fumble recovery and interception, respectively, of his four-year Note Dame career — and came close to landing him a yellow flag for excessive celebration.

Te'o said the pick "felt good. I almost got a 15-yard penalty on the play too. That wouldn't have felt so good."

One problem for Notre Dame: The Irish missed two extra points. The first attempt went wide right, while another snap went through the hands of holder Ben Turk.

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said he could take plenty of positives from his team's trip to Ireland — but none of them from the game.

"We received unbelievable support from the people of Ireland," he said. "Everything that happened outside of the white lines on the field was great. Unfortunately for us, everything that happened inside of the white lines wasn't as great."

He said the three-day trip "was a great experience for our young men," but the team faces "a lot of work to do."


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