Navy-46 Notre Dame 44


Jun 15, 2006
A friend of mine who heard this on NPR this morning called me and asked the age restrictions for entering the Academy. I assured him, I think, that there are no waivers for 55 year olds.

Miracle on Turf

By John Feinstein
Monday, November 5, 2007

When the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the seemingly unbeatable Soviet
Union in Lake Placid in 1980 en route to the gold medal, it was hailed as
the most stunning upset in sports history.

It may be difficult for an outsider to understand, but the Navy football
team's 46-44 triple-overtime victory over Notre Dame on Saturday may rank,
at the very least, a close second to that storied miracle on ice. This was a
miracle on turf. Notre Dame had beaten Navy 43 straight times, dating back
to 1963 when Roger Staubach was Navy's quarterback and officers in the
military made salaries comparable to those of players in the National
Football League.

It was before Vietnam, before Iraq, before any high school athlete who had
any notion that he could play in the NFL someday ran screaming from the room
at the thought of attending a college with a five-year post-graduate
military commitment. It was, in short, a very different world.

Skeptics will point out that this is a bad (now 1-8) Notre Dame team. It
doesn't matter. Every Notre Dame team should dominate Navy on the football
field. At one point during the game, NBC -- also known as the Notre Dame
Broadcasting Co. because it pays the school millions of dollars a year to
televise all its home games -- did a promo for a high school All-Star game
it televises in January. Only the country's top-rated high school seniors
are invited to play.

"Twenty-one of the current Irish players have played in that game in past
years," NBC play-by-play announcer Tom Hammond said.

That would be exactly 21 more than are currently playing at Navy. Or, as
Hammond's partner Pat Haden pointed out: "With all due respect, Navy doesn't
get to recruit blue-chip football players."

Just blue-chip people.

Navy's first touchdown on Saturday was scored by Zerbin Singleton, an
aerospace engineering major with a 3.14 grade point average who hopes to be
an astronaut. As an 11-year-old, Singleton watched as a bounty hunter shot
and arrested his mother. He was accepted at the Naval Academy as a high
school senior, but he could not report for plebe summer after he was injured
when a car he was in was hit by a drunk driver. He tried to join the
football team at Georgia Tech but was told, "Don't waste our time, kid,
you're too small." He re-applied to Navy, was accepted, then had to deal
with the suicide of his father during his freshman year.

Of course at 5-foot-8 and 174 pounds, Singleton is bigger than Reggie
Campbell, the 5-foot-6-inch, 168-pound offensive captain who scored the
winning points on Saturday.

Notre Dame has every advantage a football power can possibly have: an
80,000-seat stadium; its own TV network; arguably the greatest tradition in
college football history ("win one for the Gipper," Knute Rockne, Touchdown
Jesus, the fight song); more money than it knows what to do with; and a
great academic reputation.

What does Navy sell to recruits? The chance to play against Notre Dame.

Or maybe it's the chance to wake up at 6 o'clock every morning; the chance
to be screamed at by upperclassmen; the chance to lose your weekend liberty
for carrying a book-bag improperly or for being 30 seconds late to class.
Not to mention the chance to get shot at when you graduate.

The players Coach Paul Johnson recruits are frequently like Campbell and
Singleton: too small for big-time programs like Notre Dame to bother with;
tough kids who love a challenge and love proving they can do things that
"can't" be done.

Like beating Notre Dame in Notre Dame Stadium.

The best description I ever heard of what it is like to play football at
Navy, Army and Air Force came from Fred Goldsmith, who coached at Air Force:
"At a civilian school the hardest part of a football player's day is
football practice," he said. "At an academy, the easiest part of a football
player's day is football practice."

Navy can't possibly beat Notre Dame. Except on Saturday a group of
youngsters who were too small or too slow (or both) to play big-time college
football did just that.

With all due respect to Notre Dame and all its blue-chip players, Navy's
celebration should be our celebration.

John Feinstein is the author of "A Civil War: A Year Inside Army vs. Navy,
College Football's Purest Rivalry." He has been a commentator for the Navy
football radio network for 11 years.
That was one exciting game! I like to see Navy win except when they play Army. :wink:
Wonderful victory but not quite the same as the US hockey team's victory over the Soviets in 1980. That would be more like Navy beating the New England Patriots.

Everybody said that if any year offered the chance to beat Notre Dame, this was the year.

Even so, it is a big upset. I'm glad they pulled it off.

Clearly ND's team this year isn't very good when compared to ND teams of the past. But, in fairness, Navy's team isn't as strong as many of the Navy teams that have lost to ND in the past 43 years. Staubach played in 1964; Navy lost. Navy beat #2 ranked South Carolina when I was there -- yet still lost to ND. I think it's unfair to attribute all of -- or even the majority of -- the victory to ND's down year.

I would say it was a combination of (for Navy) a great game plan, strong coaching, and very few errors (physical or mental) combined with a weak ND team (as ND teams go), and a little luck. We'll take it!
I was one of the lucky 500 midshipmen that had the chance to go to ND for that historic game. Myself and six other companymates rented and RV and roadtripped it out there (which was an adventure in itself). The game was awesome. ND has the most gracious fans, before and after the game.

We managed to get into the stadium first and got the best midshipmen seats in the house - front row on the goal line! The game was amazing!

Here are a few pics I took:



Go Navy! Beat Everybody!

That final score shot is quote the commercial....

P R I C E L E S S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go Navy!
Beat North Texas