The Navy Midshipmen (2-1) scored on their opening drive against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (3-2). They were shut down the rest of the way and lost 19-7. Western Kentucky held Navy to just 107 rushing yards. The Mids entered the game leading the nation in rushing average. The Hilltoppers out-gained Navy 417-183 in total offense. Navy was unable to generate any offensive drives after starting quarterback Keenan Reynolds was knocked out of the game.
PASSING OFFENSE: D
Keenan Reynolds completed 2 of 4 passes for 20 passing yards before leaving the game. Reynolds started the game with an 11-yard completion to Matt Aiken (3 rec., 39 yards) on the opening scoring drive. On the following series Navy ran a nicely designed legal pick crossing route on third-and-8 but Aiken dropped Reynolds' pass. In the second quarter he hit Brendan Dudeck for a 9-yard gain but later in the drive he overthrew DeBrandon Sanders wide open running up the seam.
John Hendrick replaced the injured Reynolds. He was 5-of-13 for 56 yards with two interceptions. Hendrick's first pass attempt was on the opening drive of the third quarter. He did a nice job to avoid Jackson on a blitz and hit Aiken for a 14-yard gain on the move. He struggled with his accuracy, His best pass the rest of the way was a well-designed screen pass for B-back Noah Copeland for a 22-yard gain. The next play he missed Marcus Thomas who was wide open but he underthrew the ball. On third down he threw into coverage and was picked off. He later threw another interception to end the game. The offensive line had trouble picking up WKU's delayed blitzes. Xavius Boyd sacked Hendrick for a safety in the fourth quarter.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F
Navy ran for just 107 rushing yards, a 3.2 average and scored a 5-yard touchdown. The Hilltoppers 4-3 defense entered the game ranked 95th in the nation against the run. They were allowing over 195 rushing yards per game. Keenan Reynolds ran 6 times for 23 yards before leaving the game after being shaken up. Demond Brown had the longest Navy run of the day, for 21 yards, on the opening drive. Starting B-back Chris Swain ran 14 times for 32 yards and he didn't have much running room. Backup quarterback John Hendrick struggled running the ball. He carried the ball 5 times for just 9 yards. The offensive line struggled with WKU's use of multiple of defensive looks. Like in most offensive meltdowns, the line struggled to block anyone after the opening drive.
PASSING DEFENSE: C+
WKU's Brandon Doughty entered the game struggling but the Mids made him look like Peyton Manning. Doughty completed 26-of-31 for 198 passing yards and an interception. Navy's secondary had a very solid outing. Parrish Gaines (4 tackles) intercepted a pass in the first half. He had a costly interference penalty on WKU final drive. Gaines was in good position and tried to make a play on the ball. It was a close call but it set up three Antonio Andrews' rushes that culminated in a touchdown. Linebacker Chris Johnson was everywhere making eight tackles. Johnson stopped WKU's second drive himself when he made two tackles after short receptions to force a punt. Plebe William Tuider made four tackles including Navy's only sack and another behind the line. Brandon Clements made three tackles and kept everything in front of him. Safety Chris Ferguson had a busy game with six tackles. The Mids did allow a lot of short passes but allowed no touchdown passes or big passing plays.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The Mids allowed 219 rushing yards and 5.1 yards a carry. WKU's super star Antonio Andrews rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns. His run skills and cutting ability made the Mids look foolish at times. Still despite the numbers Navy did a solid job because they had to spend so much time on the field. D.J. Sargenti led the team with eight tackles. Cody Pederson had a quiet 7 tackles. Defensive end Paul Quessenberry had one of his best games with 4 tackles, a TFL, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry. Nose guard Bernie Sarra (3 tackles) did a nice job holding the point of attack. Rover Wave Ryder (3 tackles) was faked out of his shoes two times by the lateral quickness of Andrews.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Pablo Beltran was brilliant and helped make ensure the Hilltoppers had to drive the field. He made five punts for a 47.6 average with two downed inside the 20-yard line. Nick Sloan didn't attempt a field goal. Punt returner Shawn Lynch had a rough day dropping a punt and allowing another punt to roll after failing to fair catch the ball. It was downed at the one foot line and set up a safety that put the game out of reach. Marcus Thomas returned three kickoffs for 59 yards. He muffed one kickoff and Quentin Ezell had to pick it up on the one foot line. Austin Grebe has one touchback on three kickoff returns. Navy coverage teams did a solid job covering Andrews.
Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper couldn't find any answers for WKU's multiple fronts. The Hilltoppers simply dominated Navy up front. Backup quarterback John Hendrick wasn't completely healthy but played anyway. The offense was completely out of synch in the second half without Reynolds. The Mids produced just 65 offensive yards and no points in the second half. Buddy Green's troops had some difficulty tackling the shifty Andrews but the defense kept the Mids in the game until the fourth quarter despite being on the field a long time. Ken Niumatalolo hadn't liked the team's focus in practice this week after exams and was right. The Mids weren't mentally into the game and made too many mistakes.
OVERALL GRADE: D
Navy was out played, out hit and out coached. This was one of those clunkers that Navy seems to play at least once each year. With Air Force up next the Mids need to get this one behind them quickly.
Navy Report Card: Western Kentucky
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