Navy beat Notre Dame 28-21 in a friendly Friday night in South Ben, Ind., the second Friday night match against a service academy for the Fighting Irish this season, as they fell to Air Force two weeks prior.
Within the first 5 minutes the first ‘high tackle’ was recorded, leading to a Navy sin bin. The Irish were quick to capitalize on the lack of numbers in the setpiece, driving a scrum 10 meters into the try zone, where No. 8 Ryan Robinson picked up the ball and touched it down. Byron Henry made the conversion to put the Irish up 7-0.
After more phase play and a multitude of tactical kicking by both flyhalves, Navy saw their first break come on a turned scrum. The Navy No. 8 picked up the ball and made a quick dish to the oncoming scrumhalf, who then made an offload to keep the ball inbounds. After a couple of picks, the forwards powered over the line. The conversion was made and the game was tied at 7s going into halftime.
Navy maintained momentum through intermission, and after a couple of line breaks, the Midshipmen were banging on the door of the Irish try zone. They were momentarily kept out by a handling error, however they managed to win the opposing scrum and Navy’s No. 8 picked from the set piece and scored. The conversion was made – Midshipmen 14-7.
Fueled by another line break, the Midshipmen showcased their passing skills and worked the ball deep into Irish territory. When the Irish finally settled into their defense, it was too late; a couple of picks by the forwards put the ball over the line. They converted, and the Midshipmen were up 21-7.
With about 10 minutes to play in the game, the momentum began to shift again and the Irish realized the urgency at hand. After a few sloppy penalties, the Irish were inside the Navy 22. Reserve flyhalf Chris Pesigan skipped a ball to outside center Ryan Mitchell, who ran to within Navy’s 5 meter-line. Winger Rob Mungia was the first to the ensuing ruck and picked the ball and dove over the line to bring the Irish to within one score. Pesigan hit the conversion to draw the Irish within 7 at 21-14.
After another yellow card left the Midshipmen’s numbers lacking, Pesigan skipped the ball again to Mitchell, who made a quick pass to fullback David Penberthy, who beat the last man and went into the try zone. Pesigan converted the try, and the score was tied 21-21 with five minutes left to play.
The comeback was not completed, however. Like in their game against Air Force, the Irish found themselves on the defensive for the remaining five minutes of the half. In a valiant stand, the Irish defense held, until the closing moments of the match, when a Navy forward picked the ball of a ruck and dove in. Final time blew as the Midshipmen closed out their victory 28-21.