Navy running back Gee Gee Greene dives past the pylon to score a second quarter touchdown against Notre Dame during the college football game at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Saturday. (Rich Schultz / The Associated Press)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Navy knocked off Notre Dame again and this time the Midshipmen made it look easy.
Ricky Dobbs scored three touchdowns and Alexander Teich ran for 210 yards to lead Navy to its third victory against the Fighting Irish in the last four seasons, a 35-17 rout on Saturday at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
The 84-year old series, which Notre Dame (4-4) once owned like no other in college football history, now belongs to Navy (5-2).
In 2007, the Midshipmen snapped their NCAA record 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame with a 46-44 win in overtime at South Bend, Ind. Last year, Navy did it again, winning 23-21 at Notre Dame Stadium, the first of four straight losses that ended the Charlie Weis era.
These were the types of losses Notre Dame faithful figured would stop when Brian Kelly was hired as coach. Instead, it was the Irish's most lopsided loss against Navy since 1963.
Navy (5-2) ran for 367 yards and threw only two passes (both complete) against a Notre Dame defense that looked helpless to stop the option. Just figuring out who had the ball seemed a struggle for the Irish.
Offensively, Dayne Crist and the Irish moved the ball, but the quarterback tossed two key interceptions when the score was still close.
Dobbs' third touchdown, a 1-yard plunge, came after Crist threw his second pick, and made the score 35-10 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
It was a Navy home game at the NFL stadium, but there were plenty of Notre Dame fans in the crowd of 75,614 — and plenty heading for the exits when the third quarter ended.
The Fighting Irish had won three straight and figured to be in the middle of the easy part of their schedule, coming off Western Michigan and with Tulsa coming to South Bend next week. Sure they were playing without their top two receivers — Theo Riddick was out with an ankle injury and Michael Floyd was in uniform but sat out with a sore right hamstring — but the Irish always have a talent advantage against Navy.
Navy made it clear it was done playing the punching bag against the Irish. In fact, it was Notre Dame getting roughed up from the start.
After Navy stopped Notre Dame's first possession on a fourth-and-goal from inside the 1, the Midshipmen flipped the field and grabbed the lead on just a few plays.
Teich got his day started with a 54-yard run up the middle that got Navy into Notre Dame territory, then the fullback made a nice one-handed grab on a screen pass and vaulted into the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown.
David Ruffer kicked a 45-yard field goal for Notre Dame, but Navy came right back for another touchdown drive. Dobbs cut through a big hole for a 3-yard score to make it 14-3 with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
Notre Dame cut the lead to 14-10 with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Crist to TJ Jones and the Irish followed that up with their only defensive stop of the half.
But Crist was intercepted throwing into traffic by De'Von Richardson at the Notre Dame 30, setting up Gee Gee Greene's 9-yard TD run to give Navy a 21-10 lead at half.
Dobbs ran for 90 yards on 20 carries and tied the school record for rushing touchdowns with 43, matching Chris McCoy's mark set from 1995-97.
Teich, who began the season as a backup and moved into the starters role when Vince Murray went down with a knee injury, carried 26 times and became the first fullback in school history to run for 200 yards in a game.
Even more notable for Dobbs and his fellow seniors, they became only the third class at Navy to beat Notre Dame three times, joining the 1937 and '64 classes.