Air Force takes the Commander in Chief's Trophy for the second consecutive year.
After falling behind 21-3 and being badly outplayed in the first half, the Navy Midshipmen battled back from an 18-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime. The Mids comeback fell short as quarterback Kriss Proctor drew an unsportsmanlike like penalty for trash talking following scoring a touchdown in overtime. It forced a long extra point attempt which was blocked. Air Force responded with quarterback Tim Jefferson's one-yard touchdown run on their first possession in overtime. Kicker Parker Herrington added the conversion to give Air Force the win and the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. This was a very bitter loss after a great comeback. The Mids demonstrated great desire and competitiveness battling back from 21-3 but they were outhit, outplayed and out coached.
The Mids post season hopes sink against San Jose State.
Navy's hopes to keep their eight year consecutive bowl streak alive ended with a 27-24 road loss to a struggling San Jose State Spartan team. Navy managed just 344 yards of total offense against a Spartan defense that entered the game ranked 96th in the nation in defense. San Jose State stacked the box with as many as ten defenders in order to stop Navy's option attack. Navy countered with play action passes but Kriss Proctor struggled throwing the ball with his dislocated elbow. Proctor had receivers running wide open all day and consistently missed them. The offensive line allowed three sacks but Proctor's uncomfortable nature in the pocket often caused him to scramble into pressure. Proctor should have thrown at least three touchdowns. The San Jose State offense posted 465 total yards and had 27 first downs. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said it best; "My worst nightmare came true. We were sleepwalking to start the game. We left a ton of points out on the field offensively. We had some uncharacteristic mental lapses that really hurt us," Niumatalolo said. "We didn't deserve to win. We played horribly, and it starts with me. Obviously, I didn't do a good job of getting us ready."
The Pirates steal one from Navy
The East Carolina Pirates defeated the Navy Midshipmen 38-35 at Navy -Marine Corps Stadium on October 22. Another Navy comeback fell short as kicker Jon Teague's game tying field goal attempt banged off the right upright as time ran out. ECU quarterback Dominique Davis completed all 26 of his first half passes against the Mids hapless secondary as the Pirates raced out to a 17-7 first half lead. Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor was knocked out of the game and sophomore Trey Miller led the comeback with two fourth quarter touchdowns passes. After taking a lead the Mids defense couldn't stop East Carolina on their last possession. Navy still had their chances very late to pull out a victory. Mid wide receiver Brandon Turner beat the ECU defense on a post pattern and was wide open with 56 seconds left in the game but Miller overthrew him. A few plays later Mid receiver Matt Aiken made an apparent touchdown catch. Aiken caught a 33-yard pass from Miller but lost control when he hit the ground diving into the end zone and it was ruled incomplete. Teague then hit the upright on his field goal attempt. It was another frustrating loss in a disappointing season.
Special teams meltdown
Navy has lost possibly four games this season because of special team's mistakes. Kicker Jon Teague has struggled all year hitting 10 of 15 attempts while missing four extra points. He didn't hit a clutch field goal until the finale against Army. Teague missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked in a one-point lost to Air Force. He had a potential go-ahead field goal blocked against Rutgers late in the fourth quarter in another one point loss. The next week he hit the upright on the last play of the game against East Carolina. Against San Jose State, Teague wasn't able to get off a field goal attempt to tie the score after holder Pablo Beltran mishandled the snap. Navy missed a field goal attempt or botched the snap on at least one kick in eight of its 11 games. The Mids had a field goal attempt blocked in four games. Punter Pablo Beltran has struggled down the stretch. He averaged 37.5 yards per punt. The Mids special teams were mediocre covering kicks as well. The Navy kick coverage team was one of the worst in the nation allowing 24.5 yards per kick return.
Southern Mississippi smashes the Mids
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles routed the Navy Midshipmen 63-35 at home in early October. The Mids fell behind 35-7 in the first half as the Golden Eagles physical defense stifled a number of drives and they returned a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown. Navy rallied for 28-second half points but the Navy defense was dominated by the Golden Eagles offense which ran up 584 yards of total offense. It was the most points allowed by Navy since a 65-19 home loss to Phillip Rivers North Carolina State team in 2002. In what often became a trend for the rest of the season, Navy was dominated up front defensively. Southern Miss is a very good team and I thought the Mids would lose. However, after close tough losses to South Carolina and Air Force it was shocking to see Navy endure a beating we haven't seen in nearly a decade.
Notre Dame dominates Navy's defense
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish easily defeated Navy 56-14 in a rout at Notre Dame Stadium.
It was Navy's worst loss in the series since 2000 when Notre Dame rolled over a hapless Charlie Weatherbie coached team 45-14. It was the Mids sixth straight loss in its worse stretch since 2002. The Mids had won three of the previous four games against the Irish and Notre Dame was primed to get some payback. The Fighting Irish rushed for seven touchdowns while limiting Navy to a season-low 229 yards of total offense. Navy also made special teams mistakes and were over matched on defense. It's one thing to lose but the Mids looked lost and overwhelmed against Notre Dame.
Navy's defense ended the season ranked 105th in the nation in pass defense. The Mids secondary was brutal almost the entire year. This season Navy's secondary allowed a ridiculous 74.3 percent of the passes attempted against them to be completed. For comparison, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor led the nation in passing efficiency while completing 72.4 percent of his passes. Navy was hurt by injuries and started two plebes in its secondary the second half of the season. Navy has to improve its coverage and or modify its coverage scheme next season. This is the second season in a row that Navy has allowed an extremely high completion percentage.
In our next segment we'll look at the best of Navy football 2011.