Passing Offense: C-
On third-and-3, inside Penn State territory Trey Miller completed 7-yard pass to Darius Staten that put the Mids inside the 10. In their first trip to the Penn State red zone, Miller made a poor throwing decision and was intercepted by Penn State's Gerald Hodges at the line of scrimmage.
Navy started out the second half with some trickery as receiver Casey Bolena threw a 33-yard completion to Shawn Lynch to bring the Mids in Penn State territory.
John Hendrick was drilled as he released a pass that ended up caught by Brandon Turner for 28 yards. Later in the same drive Reynolds returned and stood strong in the pocket and completed a pass to Bo Snelson for 21 yards.
Three different Midshipmen signal callers saw action with Trey Miller going 6 for 13, with 17 yards passing. Freshman Keenan Reynolds looked good in relief--completing 4 for 5 passes with 44 yards passing. Sophomore John Hendrick also saw action and was 2 for 3 for 30 yards passing.
For the second straight week costly turnovers would make it harder on the Mids to come out with a victory.
Rushing Offense: B+
Navy's running game made it look easy against the Nittany Lions at time while racking up 245 total rushing yards, led by slot backs Gee Gee Greene and Bo Snelson--who each ran for over 8 yards per carry.
Snelson ran 21 yards down the left sideline; John Howell followed it up with an 11-yard run down the right sideline that was opened up by the excellent blocking of Gee Gee Greene.
At times Trey Miller looked good commanding the option game but fumbled twice and added an interception.
On fourth-and-1 in their second try of the second half, Gee Gee Greene laid out an excellent block for John Howell who ran for 18 yards and inside Penn State territory. On the same drive on fourth-and-4, fullback Prentice Christian got just enough for a Navy first down.
With time running out in the third quarter, quarterback Keenan Reynolds got a chance and looked good early, rumbling his way to convert on fourth-and-2 on an option play. On the same drive at the start of the 4th quarter, a Noah Copeland fumble was returned by Penn State's Mike Hull 74 yards for a touchdown.
After the fumble return Reynolds drove the Mids on a 10 play, 75 yard drive that was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Gee Gee Greene.
The Midshipmen rushing game had good moments at times and averaged 4.1 yards per rush. Navy needs to be able to finish drives and stop putting the ball on the ground.
Passing Defense: F
Any day an opposing quarterback throws for 4 TDs and 231 yards is not a good one for your defense. Penn State's signal caller Matt McGloin did just that completing 13 for 21 passes. Navy did not have an answer to Nittany Lion Allen Robinson who totaled 5 catches for 136 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
McGloin drove the Nittany Lions 72 yards with a 45-yard pass down the sideline to Allen Robinson to put State inside the five. McGloin scrambled to the right and found Jesse James who was able to get a foot in for a touchdown. Later in the first quarter, McGloin found the sophomore receiver down the field again, for a 45-yard touchdown reception. Robinson ended the first half with 4 receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel tallied his second¬ sack of the year to push Penn State back out of field goal range after a Trey Miller turnover. The Navy defense was unable to stop the Lions on fourth-and-12, as McGloin connected on a 24-yard pass to Trevor Williams to prolong the drive. On fourth-and-goal from the Navy 8-yard line, Quincy Adams nearly intercepted a McGloin pass but it was ruled incomplete and the Mids started their next drive from their own 8.
Navy also suffered from a bit of bad luck when a tipped ball by Penn State receiver Malik Golden was located by Robinson in the end zone for his fifth and final catch of the day.
Rushing Defense: B-
Penn State did inflict most of their damage on the Navy secondary throughout the contest, but Nittany Lion running backs Michael Zordich and Curtis Dukes had 11 carries each for 97 total yards. Penn State runners were held to a 3.9 yard per rushing attempt average and neither was able to break a run longer than 10 yards.
To start the second quarter the Mids got a dose of Penn State's Curtis Dukes who put together runs of 7, 9, and 10 yards to bring the Nittany Lions inside the Navy 30. Penn State runners were also held out of the end zone by the Midshipmen rushing defense.
Matt McGloin was sacked for five yards by outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel who led Navy with 7 tackles, including a tackle for loss. Inside linebacker Matt Warrick was second on the team with 6 tackles.
Special Teams: C
Pablo Beltran had a single 44-yard punt that wasn't returned.
For the most part the special teams play was quite for the Mids. Of Penn State kicker Sam Ficken's six punts only two were returnable. You would like to see the punt return team do better than junior receiver Shawn Lynch's four yard punt return.
The Mids did not attempt a field goal throughout the entire day.
Coach Ken Niumatalolo summed it up perfectly in his post-game comments, "We have to take care of the ball." He continued, "We know playing Notre Dame and playing Penn State we have to play perfect to have a chance." Navy did not come close to playing perfect with turnovers, penalties, and missed opportunities and the Nittany Lions capitalized, scoring two touchdowns off Navy turnovers.
Coach also stated he knew coming into the game, the Mids would be outmatched offensively and tried to do some things to open things up for the run game. Navy responded well against a talented Penn State defense with 245 rushing yards. After two weeks to prepare for Penn State, the Mids seemed ready to face the Nittany Lions but could not execute for a full four quarters of football.
It was an especially tough day on the defensive side of the ball; at the end of the first half the Mids had given up 20 points, 196 passing yards, and three passing touchdowns. Navy put together drives of 64, 46, 53, and 48 yards but three turnovers and a turnover on downs would put the game out of reach. Navy clawed into the red zone three times but were only able to come out with one touchdown.
The Midshipmen were barely outgained in total yards 371-341. Penn State followed Notre Dame's lead and picked the Navy secondary apart. Even though the Navy defense was clearly outmatched, its rushing offense could have hung tough with Nittany Lions into the fourth quarter. Three turnovers and seven uncharacteristic penalties would hurt the Mids' chances of keeping the game close.
Without these mental mistakes, it could have been a completely different football game.
Navy Report Card: Penn State
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