Three Key Revisited: Navy vs. FAU

The fifth win in a row for the Naval Academy saw the Mids clinch a spot in a bowl game. Navy will be traveling to San Francisco in December to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on the back of a hard fought 24-17 win over Florida Atlantic. Here are how the three keys affected the game.

1) Stop the Owls momentum early

Navy may have done enough to beat the Owls on Saturday, but it was not because the Mids were able to get off to a quick start. After a first quarter which involved plenty of punting and one of Nick Sloan's two missed field goals, FAU took over the game in the second quarter with two scores for a 10-0 lead. What will probably please coach Ken Niumatalolo the most though is the fact that Navy responded quickly and efficiently with two touchdowns of their own to take a 14-10 lead into the break. The second of those was an epic 85-yard drive which took the last 5:30 of the half and cemented Keenan Reynolds position as a future star.

2) Keep playing mistake free football

Though Navy made more mistakes in this one than they have in a while, the Mids were able to overcome those errors in large part but capitalizing on the mistakes the Owls made. In addition to the two missed field goals Navy also turned the ball over once on a fumble when Trey Miller (on his only snap in relief of an injured Reynolds) botched an option hand-off. The irony of just how bad Miller's luck is was confirmed later in the game when Reynolds fumbled and kicked the ball away from himself, only for it to hit an offensive lineman and bounce back close enough for him to gratefully fall on. If that had been Miller the ball would have bounced in a way to become a turnover.

3) Maintain passing efficiency

Reynolds was once again efficient in the passing game on an 8-of-15 for 147 yard performance. Though a lot of his passing is the product of the option it is interesting to note that when he is asked to make difficult throws he is getting more capable by the week. The pass to Brandon Turner for the first Navy touchdown was an eye of the needle throw which relied much more on timing and arm strength than on catching the defense napping. Reynolds also has the ability to move a defense as he can get the ball down field, which was in stark contrast to FAU starter Graham Wilbert. The entire Owls game plan seemed to be based on five yard throws by Wilbert which rarely tested the Navy secondary.

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