Report Card: Navy vs. San Diego State

San Diego State's freshman All-American Ronnie Hillman ran for 228 yards and scored four touchdowns in defeating Navy 35-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Aztecs outrushed the Mids 279 to 235 yards as they limited Navy's attack. Navy rallied from a 14-point deficit to narrow the gap to 21-14 at the half.

After the Mids failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal on the opening drive of the second half, San Diego State shut them out the rest of the game. Navy ends the 2010 season with a 9-4 record.




San Diego State


In his final game as quarterback of the Midshipmen Ricky Dobbs completed 8-of-15 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown pass and an interception. Trailing 14-0 and facing a third-and-19, Dobbs made a tremendous throw off his back foot under pressure to hit Greg Jones in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Dobbs is the only quarterback in the triple option era that had the arm strength to make that throw. It was Ricky's 13th touchdown pass of the season and passed Navy single season touchdown passing record set by Alton Grizzard. Greg Jones was open all night as he caught 3 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Jones made a great catch while being interfered with despite no flag, on a 40 yard bomb from Ricky that set up Dobbs' rushing touchdown just before the end of the first half. Dobbs hit Gee Gee Greene for a 30 yard strike on opening drive of second half. On fourth-and-goal from the three, Ken Niumatalolo decided to gamble and go for it. Dobbs play action pass was dropped by Bo Snelson in the end zone. It was reminiscent of the Chris McCoy pass to Cory Schemm on fourth-and-goal in the 1995 Army-Navy game that also went incomplete and changed the complexion of the game. The following series featured two completions to two players, Doug Furman (7 yards) and Aaron Santiago (16 yards). Dobbs then missed Greene who was wide open on a post route on third down and Navy was forced to punt. Ricky's last throw of his Navy career was intercepted as he tried to force a pass against San Diego State's prevent defense late in the game. The offensive line allowed some pressure but gave up no sacks.
Navy ran for 235 yards and averaged 4.6 yards a carry but the Aztecs did a very good job limiting their big plays. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs carried 24 times for 107 yards and scored a touchdown. Dobbs had an inconsistent game reading the Azetec's run defense. There were at least three occasions that Dobbs should have left the ball with the fullback, who ran untouched through the line, on the mesh but kept the ball and was instead tackled for negative plays. Dobbs decision making negatively affected two promising drives. Fullback Alexander Teich didn't see much daylight as he carried 10 times for just 38 yards. Slotback Gee Gee Greene ran five times for 33 yards. Aaron Santiago ran four times for 27 yards and blocked well on the perimeter. John Howell ran for 25 yards on four carries but had a costly fumble of a pitch that killed a Navy drive. The offensive line didn't play poorly but never put together one of their signature run dominated drives.
San Diego quarterback Ryan Lindley completed 18-of-23 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The Mids had trouble matching up with the Aztecs speedy receivers and often left gaping holes in their zone. San Diego's receivers often just sat in the zone and were wide open. Navy cornerback Kwesi Mitchell, 4 tackles and a forced fumble, had a rough night trying to cover the Aztecs' receivers. Wyatt Middleton (5 tackles) was hurt against Army and seemed to be favoring the arm he injured. Middleton uncharacteristically failed to wrap up on a tackle as Vincent Brown raced by him for a 53-yard touchdown. Brown was a matchup nightmare for the Mids as he posted eight receptions for 165 yards, scored a touchdown and set a Poinsettia Bowl receiving record. The Aztecs offensive line did an excellent job protecting Lindley as it allowed Navy no sacks and the Mids generated little pressure.
The Mids were unable to stop explosive running back Ronnie Hillman all night long as he rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns. The Aztecs as a team ran for 279 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Navy's defensive line struggled to get off their blocks, meanwhile Hillman consistently made big plays with his speed and moves. Jerry Hauburger made 11 tackles and had one of his best games of his career. Tyler Simmons had an uncharacteristically low 7 tackles as the inside linebacker often were victimized by Hillman's cutback runs.
Punter Kyle Delahooke had a very good game as he averaged 40.6 per punt and pinned two inside the 20-yard line. Joe Buckley didn't attempt a field goal. Marcus Thomas returned five kickoffs for 106 yards. Punt returner Matt Aiken didn't have any returns. Long snapper Brian Ackerman made a big mistake when he ran into an Aztec punt returner attempting a fair catch and drew a 15-yard penalty. The punt coverage team failed to down a punt inside the five yard line and gave San Diego State a touchback and the ball at the 20-yard line.
Ken Niumatalolo did a nice job before the end first half running down the clock before scoring a touchdown. I thought Niumatalolo took too much time but it worked out perfectly. I disagreed with his decision to go for the touchdown on the first drive of the second half but in fairness to him it should have been a touchdown. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper's offense never seemed in sync all night. Buddy Green's defense gave Navy a chance to get back in the game in the third quarter but Navy offense was shutout in the second half.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said it best "We got thoroughly whipped tonight. Take your hat off to the Aztecs. They beat us pretty bad," Niumatalolo said. "We've played a lot of good teams over the years and that offense is as good as we've seen." Navy didn't play its best game but San Diego State was clearly the better team. It was Navy's worst loss since 2008 against Pittsburgh.

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