JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Will Worth ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns, his ninth consecutive game with a rushing score, and Navy beat Notre Dame 28-27 Saturday in the nation's longest-running intersectional rivalry.
It was a rare victory in the series for the Midshipmen (6-2), who beat the Irish for just the fourth time since 1963. Notre Dame (3-6) had won five in a row against Navy.
Irish coach Brian Kelly deserved some of the blame for this one. Trailing 28-24 with a little more than 7 minutes to go, Kelly opted for a 31-yard field goal instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-4 play at the 14. He made the call even though his defense hadn't forced a punt all afternoon.
Navy got the ball back and ran out the clock with its option offense. Worth converted two huge fourth-down plays on the final drive, one on a dive play near midfield and another with a pass to Jamir Tillman that essentially ended the game.
Worth finished with his fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance and fifth of the season.
Navy actually punted once, but it was wiped out after a replay because Notre Dame had 12 men on the field. Instead of punting, the Midshipmen kept the drive alive and capped it with Worth's second rushing TD and his 15th of the season.
DeShone Kizer threw three touchdown passes for Notre Dame, which now needs to win out against Army, Virginia Tech and USC to become bowl eligible.
Notre Dame : It was the Irish's fifth loss in seven games, continuing Kelly's worst season in seven years. The Irish have a young team and should be better in 2017, but making a bowl seems like a long shot now.
Navy: The Middies are bowl eligible again, improving to 23-5 in their last 28 games. Three of those losses came against ranked teams.
Notre Dame: Plays Army in San Antonio, Texas, next Saturday. The Irish have won 14 in a row in the series.
Navy: Hosts Tulsa in the team's home finale. Navy is 2-1 against the Golden Hurricanes.