Saturday, October 24, 2020

Midshipmen fall to Houston, 37-21


Game Summary - Houston travelled to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium today and came away with a 37-21 win over Navy.  The Midshipmen were coming off two big AAC wins but couldn't contain a powerful Houston offense.  Clayton Tune led the Houston offense completing 24 of his 34 pass attempts for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns.  His leading receiver was Marquez Stevenson who had 9 receptions for 129 yards and 2 scores.  Dalen Morris led Navy with 206 yards passing and 2 touchdowns.  The Navy rushing attack was held to just 166 yards.  Navy's fullbacks (Nelson Smith and Jamale Carothers) were held to just 22 yards in the first half and 64 yards in the game.  Navy is now 3-3 and 2-1 in the AAC and will travel to SMU next Saturday.

Pointless fact - Navy lost today's coin toss and is now 0-6 on the year.  Thankfully their record is better than  that.

Dalen Morris
Great Answer - Navy came into today's game a nearly two touchdown underdog.  The Cougars took an early 3-0 lead on their second drive of the game.  The Midshipmen realized that playing catchup football  against Houston was a recipe for disaster.  On the Mids' ensuing drive, they used all three timeouts for the first half.  On their third TO, Navy was facing a 3rd-and-10 on the Houston 49 yard line.  Offensive Coordinator, Ivin Jasper called a pass play and Dalen Morris connected with Mychal Cooper for a 41-yard completion to the Houston 8.  Two plays later, Morris called his own number and put Navy in the lead with a 6-yard touchdown run.

Pitch and Catch - Navy is well known for it's hard-nosed, time-consuming running game.  With this year's starting quarterback, Dalen Morris, the Mids also have an effective passing game.  With Navy trailing Houston, 9-7, Morris connected with Ryan Mitchell for a career-long, 60-yard TD pass to give Navy the lead in the game.

Lightning in a Bottle - With Navy holding a close 13-9 lead with 2:37 left in the half, Houston's QB, Clayton Tune went to work.  Tune connected with Nathaniel Dell and Kyle porter for completions of 13 and 15 yards respectively.  On the next play, Tune found Marquez Stevenson for a 51-yard TD and a 16-13 lead.

Kicking Game Battle - The kicking game played a huge factor in today's game.  Navy's Bijan Nichols,

Dalton Witherspoon 
who has been a reliable and accurate kicker for the Mids was 0-2 on field goal attempts of 35 and 41 yards.  Nichols also had a PAT blocked in the first half.  On the other sideline, Houston's Dalton Witherspoon was money all afternoon.  Witherspoon connected on all three of his field goal attempts in the game.  He was successful on 33, 45, and a career-high 53 yard field goals and was also 3-3 on PATs.  The Cougars outscored Navy in the kicking game, 12-1.

Playing with a Short Field - Houston was able to turn positive field position into 16 points during today's game.  Four of the first five scoring drives for the Cougars were 39 yards or less.  Houston connected on three field goals and a touchdown.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Midshipmen Upset Temple, 31-29

Navy upset visiting Temple at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday in front of the Brigade of Midshipmen.  The Mids came out early establishing the running game and kept the Owls on their heals the entire game.  Nelson Smith led the Midshipmen with 20 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns.  Navy finished with 251 yards on the ground.  Dalen Morris got his second start of the season leading the Navy offense.  Temple quarterback Anthony Russo played well guiding the Owl's offense in a heartbreaking loss.  The Navy defense stepped up four all four quarters and got the biggest play of the game stopping Temple's two-point conversion attempt and preserving the 31-29 win.  Navy's win was the 100th victory for head coach, Ken Niumatalolo.  Navy travels to East Carolina next Saturday.

Great job! - Leave it to the Naval Academy to do a great job with their first home game of the season with fans.  The Midshipmen were seated throughout the stadium and social distanced.  The cheerleaders were on the hill in the north end zone.  The Cannoneers were in the northeast corner of the stadium with their signature brass cannon.  Planning like this increases the chances for having fans at games.

That looks better - Other than the second half of the Tulane game, the Navy offense has been less than stellar this year.  It didn't help starting three different quarterbacks in their first three games.  Things looked different on their opening drive against Temple.  Navy started the game with a 17-play, 75-yard drive capped off with a one yard TD run by fullback Jamale Carothers.  Every play during the drive was a running play.  The drive took 9:38 off the clock and seemed to light a spark for the Navy offense.

What a play - Following a fumble on a pitch from Dalen Morris, Navy faced a 3rd and 14 on the Temple 38 yard line.  Ivin Jasper called the first pass play of the game, a screen to CJ Williams.  Morris put the ball right where Williams needed it and the shifty slotback took it from there, running to the two-yard line.  Three plays later Navy scored and took a 14-3 lead.

Are you serious? - Navy is never shy about attempting fourth down conversions, but this one seemed different.  The Midshipmen were facing a 4th-and-six situation on the Temple 45 with 4:57 remaining in the first half and a 4-point lead.  Coach Ken Niumatalolo took a chance and called a screen pass to Junior wide receiver Mychal Cooper.  Dalen Morris threw a perfect pass and connected for a 12-yard pass for a Navy first down.  Two plays later, fullback Nelson Smith ran untouched through the middle of the line for a 26-yard touchdown giving Navy a 21-10 lead with 3:46 left in the first half.

John Marshall
Bad call - Temple was faced with a 4th-and-one on the Navy 21 yard line with 0:45 left in the half and down 21-10.  A field goal would cut the lead to 8 and the Owls would get the ball to start the second half.  Like Ken Niumatalolo, Temple head coach Rod Carey decided to go for it.  Like Navy, they converted the 4th down with a five yard carry to the Midshipmen 16 yard line.  Unlike Navy, on their next play, Anthony Russo was picked off and came away with no points.

Defensive play of the game - With Temple facing a 1st-and-10 at the Navy 16 and just under 40 seconds left in the half, Sophomore John Marshall picked off an Anthony Russo pass and kept the Owls from putting points on the board before the half.  The interception was the first of Marshall's career.

Fullbacks on fire - The Navy fullbacks got on track quickly and controlled the game for the Navy offense.  Nelson Smith led the rushing attack with 20 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns.  Jamale Carothers had 15 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.  On Navy's second drive of the third quarter, the fullbacks carried the ball on 8 of the 9 plays including a 22-yard touchdown run by Smith.

Scrappy - Temple quarterback, Anthony Russo led the Owls offense completing 21 of 30 passes for 206 yards and a TD.  He carried the ball four times for and two touchdowns on the ground.  Russo was the reason the Owls had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

Great call -  Late in the fourth quarter, Temple had a first down and 10 on the Navy 37 yard line, trailing the Midshipmen by 8.  On the play, Russo threw a backwards pass to Ray Davis who then connected with a wide-open David Martin-Robinson for 35 yards to the Navy 2 yard line.  Three plays later the Owls scored a TD with 1:02 left in the game leading to the play of the game.

Play of the Game - With a two-point lead and just over one minute left in the game, Navy led Temple 31-29.  The Owls had just scored a touchdown and were attempting a two-point conversion to tie the game.  Anthony Russo tried to connect with Ray Davis in the flat when Navy backup linebacker, Terrell Adams broke up the pass and preserved the win for the Midshipmen.

Navy hosts Temple in Front of the Brigade

Navy (1-2, 1-0 AAC) hosts Temple (0-0) this evening at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.  The stadium will not be empty like it was when Navy lost to BYU, 55-3 on September 7.  

Governor Larry Hogan and U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck announced on Thursday that the Brigade of Midshipmen would be able to attend this evening's game.  Attendance is limited to the Brigade and a small support staff.

“We were pleased to work closely with Naval Academy leaders to allow the Brigade of Midshipmen to safely attend this weekend’s game,” said Governor Hogan. “It gives us a great deal of pride to have the Naval Academy here in the State of Maryland. I want to thank Vice Admiral Buck for putting the health and safety of the Midshipmen first.”

Tonight's game against Navy will be the first one of the season for the Owls.  Temple did not add any nonconference games to replace the four they lost by scheduling adjustments.  The City of Philadelphia had been restricting the Owls to 50 participants (players, coaches, and staff) in a single workout area and had limited their 11-on-11 scrimmage work to 10 to 12 plays per practice session since the start of preseason camp in early August.

After Navy's loss to BYU in the opener, they set a school record with a 24-point comeback in the second half to knock off Tulane at Yulman Stadium.  Last week the Mids fell to service academy rival, Air Force 40-7 in Colorado Springs.