DUBLIN (AP) — Sam Hartman threw for four touchdowns in his Notre Dame debut and the No. 13 Fighting Irish routed Navy 42-3 on Saturday in a season-opening victory in Ireland’s capital.
Notre Dame (1-0) scored at will by air and on the ground against the Midshipmen (0-1), improving to 3-0 all-time against Navy in Dublin games.
Hartman completed 19 of 23 passes for 251 yards.
“It starts up front. I had a lot of time to go through my reads and progressions, and felt comfortable,” Hartman said.
Hartman connected with Jaden Greathouse on two scoring strikes, the second a 20-yard reception that made the score 35-0 early in the third quarter and kept the Irish offense perfect at that point — scoring touchdowns in their first five possessions.
The Irish quickly eased fears about another possible slow start after going 0-2 to open last season.
“You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Irish coach Marcus Freeman said.
After touchdowns runs by Audric Estimé and Jadarian Price, Hartman’s first TD pass went to Greathouse, who caught a deep ball at the 5 and took it in for a 35-yard scoring play and a 21-0 lead. That drive was a no-huddle special requiring just 1:52 and four plays to go 78 yards.
Navy followed with its best drive before stalling at Notre Dame’s 20. On a fourth-and-4, kicker Evan Warren was wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt, leaving Hartman with 1:55 on the clock.
Hartman, a grad transfer who set ACC records at Wake Forest, ended Notre Dame’s nearly flawless first half with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Thomas.
Notre Dame’s sixth drive ended when new kicker Spencer Shrader missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.
Hartman hit Deion Colzie in the flat for a 25-yard touchdown pass that made the score 42-0 early in the fourth quarter.
After pledging to open up its offense a bit from the triple option, Navy attempted just one pass in the first half — when starter Tai Lavatai threw incomplete on a fourth-and-3 from Notre Dame’s 37 under pressure from Jack Kiser.
Navy avoided the shutout when Warren kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:33 to play.
“When you play a team like Notre Dame, you’ve got to be dang near perfect,” Navy coach Brian Newberry said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage, the running backs ran hard, we didn’t tackle well — that’s a bad combination. When they did throw it, they were deadly efficient.”
Estimé led the Irish rushing attack with 95 yards on 16 carries.
Starting Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai finished 3 of 6 for 43 yards. Alex Tecza led Navy with 38 yards rushing on eight carries.
Kickoff was delayed five minutes because of TV coverage of an English Premier League game, Notre Dame officials said. Pregame performances included drums, fiddles and dancers on the Notre Dame end during warmups. A smattering of “U-S-A!” chants followed the Naval Academy marching band’s effort.
Freeman can breathe easy with the quarterback position in good hands — even though the Navy defense didn’t present much of a problem. The offensive line overwhelmed Navy’s front, clearing huge holes. Navy’s offense is still one dimensional, despite coach Newberry — making his head coaching debut — pledging to open it up.
The dominant performance might persuade voters to elevate the Irish into the top 10, though from a week zero game against a weak opponent there may be not much room to jump up.
Navy: The Midshipmen are off next weekend and host Wagner on Sept. 9.
Notre Dame: The Irish host Tennessee State next Saturday and then play North Carolina State, followed by Central Michigan before Ohio State visits South bend on Sept. 23.