The Navy Midshipmen were dominated by the Duke Blue Devils 35-7 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. Duke quarterback Anthony Boone threw three touchdown passes in his first game back from injury. Navy was able to move the ball in the first half but costly penalties, a fumble and a missed field goal proved costly as Duke had a 14-7 halftime lead. In the second half Duke scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and the Blue Devils shutout Navy's offense the rest of the way. The loss drops Navy to 3-2 while Duke improves to 4-2.
PASSING OFFENSE: D
Keenan Reynolds completed 6 of 13 passes for 89 passing yards with an interception. Keenan had to throw away his first pass on third down under pressure. New right tackle Brandon Greene was bulled rushed by Justin Foxx and Reynolds had no time to throw. On the next series Reynolds hit DeBrandon Sanders (3 rec. for 55 yards) for a 21-yard gain in stride on a wheel route. It was one of his best throws of the day. Late in the second quarter on third and long Reynolds did a terrific job during a two minute drill to avoid sacks and make plays throwing the ball. He scrambled on a third down play out of trouble and hit Darius Staten for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Later on the same drive Reynolds hit slotback Ryan Williams-Jenkins (2 rec., 24 yards) for a 23-yrd gain. He avoided another sack and found Sanders for 27 yards. With 22 seconds left in the half Reynolds was sacked and lost a fumble. Navy was running a slow developing crossing route that had just turned Brandon Dudeck open. The problem with the play was left tackle Bradlyn Heap totally fanned on his cut block which was to create a passing lane. Duke's Kelby Brown had a clean run at Keenan and his hard hit on the sack forced a fumble. In the second half Navy's receivers had trouble getting open and the Mids offensive line could not handle the Blue Devils' pass rush. Reynolds never saw Duke's Jeremy Cash underneath when the defender picked off his pass late in the third quarter. Duke used the short field to score their final touchdown. Duke sacked Reynolds twice but they would have had at least three more if he wasn't so elusive. The Mids will have a hard time passing the ball unless their offensive line improves on pass blocking.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D
Navy ran for 230 rushing yards, a 4.6 average and scored just one touchdown. Keenan Reynolds ran 16 times for only 31 yards as the Duke defense constantly crashed hard and penetrated into the backfield. Starting B-back Chris Swain ran 10 times for a hard earned 61 yards. His backup Noah Copeland saw the ball seven times for 26 yards. Copeland had a 17-yard run in the first half that set up the failed field goal attempt. DeBrandon Sanders (4 att., 27 yards) had a few nice runs turning the corner. Marcus Thomas (3 att., 56 yards) took a pitch for a 47-yard gain as he broke two tackles to set up the Mids lone touchdown. Darius Staten (2 att., 13 yards) broke a tackle on his 7-yard touchdown run. The Mids offensive line that features two new starters due to injuries really struggled against Duke's athletic front.
PASSING DEFENSE: D
Duke quarterback Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone completed 31of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns.
This was the third game against Cutcliffe's passing attack that the Duke quarterbacks essentially played pitch and catch with their receivers as they dissected the Navy defense. D.J Sargenti (10 tackles, FF, sack) was one of the few Navy defenders to make some plays. Cody Peterson (12 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QBH) forced Boone out of bounds on fourth-and-1 for a two yard loss to end their opening drive at Navy's 22. Safety Lonnie Richardson ( 8 tackles) was beat for the Duke first touchdown on a 27-yard throw to Isaac Blakeney when he passed him off to the deep help which wasn't there as Lonnie failed to cover him.
Cornerback Parrish Gaines (5 tackles) made a halfhearted jam attempt on Max McCaffrey and was then beat on a 3-yard corner route for Duke's second touchdown. It was a well thrown ball. David Cutcliffe had the perfect play called against a Navy zone blitz when Blakeney ran a dig route where the linebackers had vacated for an 19-yard touchdown reception. Chris Johnson was the only Navy defender (7 tackles, 1 pass def.) to make a play on
a pass. Duke scored on five straight possessions as the Mids
had no answers on defense.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The Mids allowed 134 rushing yards, 3.6 yards a carry and two rushing touchdown to the Blue Devils. The Mids wore down and Duke was able to run effectively in the red zone during their final two scoring drives. Rover Wave Ryder (5 tackles) had a rough game in coverage and run support. Ryder was run over by Duke Jela Duncan on a 5-yard touchdown run as Duke extended their lead 28-7. The Mid linebackers did a solid job against the run but it was the Duke passing attack that won the day.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Kicker Nick Sloan initially made a 24-yard field goal but a false start penalty forced him to kick it from 29-yard line which he missed. Punter Pablo Beltran averaged 45.2 yards on his four punts. He uncharacteristically had two average punts but later nailed a punt for 62 yards. Punt returner Shawn Lynch fair caught the only punt he fielded. Marcus Thomas made a mistake running one kickoff out of the end zone for just a 10-yard gain. Kick off specialist Austin Grebe was incorrectly penalized for a horse collar penalty when he grabbed Duke's kick returner Edwards' jersey much lower while making a tackle. Navy's coverage teams which had done a great job to this point in the season decided to join the lousy festival in North Carolina. They allowed an average of five yards per punt return and an average of 30 yards on two kickoff returns. The Mids also allowed a first down on a fake punt. Only Beltran kept this rating from a failing grade.
Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper tried to make Duke pay for selling out against the run by passing the ball but the Mids rebuilt offensive line struggled in pass protection. The five penalties and three turnovers killed any chance of Navy making it a competitive game by destroying some promising drives. Buddy Green's defense has been ripped apart in all three games against David Cutcliffe passing attack. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo's drew some criticism for attempting the field goal on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. Personally I don't have a problem with Ken's decision since there was no score. I always believe that getting on the scoreboard is huge in that spot. The team didn't seem mentally ready out of the gate off a big rivalry win over Air Force.
OVERALL GRADE: D
This was an ugly game. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo summarized it best, "We got our butts whipped all the way around. We got out-coached, got outplayed. It's been a long time since we got beat that bad in every phase." There is nothing more to say.
Navy Report Card: Duke
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