Navy Report Card: Central Michigan

Navy (3-3) defeated Central Michigan 31-13 on Friday night. GoMids.com's D.T. Yates grades the Mids' performance in every critical team area.

Passing Offense: A

Keenan Reynolds started the game with a play-action pass to Bo Snelson for 26 yards to cross into Chippewas territory. Later in the drive, on fourth-and-1, Reynolds faked a pitch and found Brandon Turner wide open across the middle for a 23-yard touchdown pass.

Reynolds first incompletion of the night hit the fingertips of Matt Aiken, just high of the junior receiver. On the next play Reynolds showed great poise avoiding pressure and completing a 6-yard pass to Shawn Lynch. Reynolds completed his second touchdown pass of the night on another perfectly executed play-action pass that found Gee Gee Greene open in the end zone for a 19-yard score that put the Mids up 14-3.

On Navy's first second half possession, Reynolds had plenty of time to catch Turner through traffic, and over the middle for 19-yard gain.

Darius Staten dropped a well thrown pass in the end zone that made its way past two Chippewas defenders. Reynolds made a great throw to Bo Snelson down the sideline that fell through the senior slotbacks arms. With great field possession on the CMU 41, a play-action option play sucked in the Chippewas safety allowing Radcliff to find Greene wide open over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown catch.

Reynolds finished 6 for 11 for 134 yards and 3 scores. It was the first time a Navy quarterback had thrown 3 touchdown passes in a game since Chris McCoy against Colgate in 1997. There were some well thrown pass attempts by the freshman that were dropped by Midshipmen receivers. Reynolds threw well enough to complete at least 9 of his 11 pass attempts. Greene led the team with 2 touchdown catches for 60 yards. Turner added two catches and a score for 42 yards receiving.

Rushing Offense: B+

On their first drive, Navy softened the Chippewas defense up with five rushing plays for 25 yards. On fourth-and-inches on the Mids second drive Reynolds squeaked by on a quarterback keeper for a Navy first down. Later in the drive on another fourth-and-short scenario, Reynolds avoided pressure up the middle and flipped the ball outside to Greene for a 9-yard gain and their third fourth-down conversion of the night.

Navy got a big break after Central Michigan cut the lead to 17-10 at the end of the first half when a Noah Copeland fumble bounced just the right way and was recovered by Greene. Prentice Christian had a nice run up the gut for 15 yards in the start of the third quarter. Later in the drive, on fourth-and-1, Christian lept forward on a quarterback keeper for a Navy first down.

After a perfectly executed option play to Christian for 7 yards, the senior fullback found a hole in the defense for a 2-yard touchdown score. The plebe quarterback had 24 carries for 59 yards but went through his reads well. The Chippewas were only allowed two sacks throughout the night.

Copeland rushed for a team high 70 yards rushing on 15 carries. Prentice Christian had 13 carries for 64 yards and a score. Navy out rushed Central Michigan 238-70 yards on the night.

Passing Defense: B-

On the Chippewas second drive, outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel forced a punt when he dove to knock away a Radcliff pass to Titus Davis. With the Chippewas moving down the field, Parrish Gaines reacted perfectly to a screen pass to Cody Wilson with a perfect tackle in the backfield for a loss of 2 yards. Two plays later, on fourth-and-6, Radcliff again had nowhere to throw but Tipton in the flat. Gaines made the stop a yard short of the first down forcing a turnover on downs.

Outside linebacker Paul Quessenberry had his second sack of the night to force a third-and-15 when Radcliff again could find no open receivers. The Chippewas would later be forced to punt after a 5-yard completion.

After a Nick Sloan field goal with 3:10 on the clock, Radcliff was able connect on a trio of long passes to quickly march the Chippewas downfield. The last of the completions was caught by dangerous sophomore receiver Titus Davis, who spun back outside for a 29-yard touchdown to pull the Chippewas within seven points.

Radcliff found holes in the Navy secondary to start the second half and hit Davis on a short curl route that was turned into a 19-yard gain down the sideline. On third-and-goal Radcliff had Davis open in the end zone but the pass was just high of the receivers reach.

With CMU trailing 18 points the Chippewas opted to try out sophomore quarterback Cody Kater. The young signal caller tried to throw back across the field and senior linebacker Brye French had an interception in his bread basket but was unable to hold on.

Navy held Chippewas signal callers to 13 for 22 for 151 yards passing and a score. Chippewas star receiver Titus Davis was allowed just 2 receptions for 48 yards receiving and a score.

Rushing Defense: B

After Navy's score on their opening drive, a long kickoff return gave the Chippewas excellent field position deep in Navy territory. It looked like it might be a long day for the Mids run defense after the first two snaps. Zurlon Tipton reeled off gains of 9 and 7 yards right up the gut of the Navy defense.

On third-and-goal Navy's secondary gave Ryan Radcliff nowhere to throw, and defensive end Wes Henderson was able to sack Radcliff for a 1-yard loss to force a field goal. On second-and-goal on the 5-yard line, sophomore linebacker Jordan Drake saved a score with a shoe-string tackle on Chippewas freshman running back Saylor Lavallii in the back field. Quessenberry caused a Chippewas quarterback fumble for a loss of 13 yards and set up good field position for the Mids.

Navy's rushing defense played excellently, holding Zurlon Tipton to 55 yards rushing on 11 carries. Wetzel and Henderson led the defensive effort with a pass break up and sack each.

Special Teams: C

After Navy scored on their opening drive, the Mids gave up a huge, 69-yard return by Saylor Lavallii that brought the Chippewas to the Navy 22-yard line.

Marcus Thomas had a nice return for 34 yards that was one man away from breaking it deep with an additional 5 yards added on for an offside penalty by Central Michigan. Thomas had another excellent return on the Mids initial second half possession, when he bounced outside for a 36-yard gain that gave the Mids the ball at the 39-yard line.

Nick Sloan nailed a 37-yard field goal near the end of the second half that put Navy up 17-3. It was Sloan's only field goal attempt of the night. Shawn Lynch looked good and broke multiple tacklers on a 7-yard punt return that was called back for an illegal block in the back penalty.

Junior Chippewas receiver Defarrel Davis returned a kickoff 39 yards against the Midshipmen special teams. Pablo Beltran was absolutely solid with two punts pinning the Chippewas on inside their 10-yard line and one sticking them on their 15.

Coaching: A

Coach Ken Niumatalolo took chances often and early and they paid off. Navy converted 5 of 5 fourth-down conversions and was 44 percent on third down. After his impressive performance off the bench last week against Air Force, the coaches opted to start the true freshman Keenan Reynolds over Trey Miller who had been cleared to play with an ankle injury. The selection to go with the plebe paid off. Reynolds ran the ball well, made good decisions, and most importantly he didn't turn the ball over. The Chippewas got sucked in on play action all night and Reynolds flourished finding wide open receivers downfield. Central Michigan wasn't able to stop it and coach Niumatalolo continued to mix it in with a steady dose of the option.

Overall: A

Navy outgained the Chippewas 372-221 in total yards and the Mids were 3 for 3 with 2 touchdowns in the red zone. CMU was held to field goals in each of their red zone possessions. Things looked good from the start of the game when the Mids held the Chippewas to a field goal and nearly doubled their time of possession at 9:56 minutes.

Freshman Keenan Reynolds was excellent and accurate and led the offense well. With Miller cleared to play against the Chippewas the Mids have a full blown quarterback controversy on their hands. The defense allowed just 3 points of a pair of big kickoff returns allowed by the special teams. Next week the Mids return home for a game against an Indiana that went head to head with No. 8 ranked Ohio State in a 52-49 shootout. Three of the Hoosiers losses were by a combined nine points.

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