PASSING OFFENSE: B
Keenan Reynolds completed 4-of-6 passes for 46 passing yards with one touchdown. Reynolds threw four on his six passes on the opening drive in a game that lasted nearly four hours. Keenan's first throw badly missed a wide open Matt Aiken. It was one of the few mistakes he made all night. Reynolds avoided a sack and hit Demond Brown on the move for a 14-yard reception. Brown made a terrific diving catch. The drive stalled after Reynolds was sacked when fullback Shawn White failed to pick up a blitz. The next play the Mids tried to set up a screen to Quentin Ezell but he was covered. Reynolds wisely threw the ball away. Reynolds hit Matt Aiken with a ten yard pass that was just short of the first down. Aiken injured his knee on the play and did not return.
Reynolds was credited with a three yard touchdown pass to Darius Staten. It was a forward pitch as he was hit behind the line of scrimmage. The Mids had called 32 consecutive runs before that pass. There was a good reason for running the ball almost exclusively besides the fact it was working. With two backups forced into starting duty the Mids pass protection, which isn't very good to start with, really struggled. Keenan was unable to scramble away from pressure on his first pass attempt of the fourth quarter and was sacked. On his next pass attempt to open the following series he was sacked again. Right tackle Joey Gaston, making his first start, was beat off the edge. Later in the series Reynolds wisely call a time out on third down with the Spartan defense moving and shifting. After the time out he completed his last pass attempt a 19-yard completion to Casey Bolena for a key first down. Reynolds finished the drive two plays later with a 38-yard touchdown run to give the Mids a 31-30 lead.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A+
It was a tremendous performance with Navy rushing for 432 yards with two backups, right tackle Joey Gaston and center Blaze Ryder, making their first career starts. Keenan Reynolds set a new career-high by running for 240 yards. He established an NCAA record with seven rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. He was brilliant both in carrying the ball and running the offense. Keenan scored on runs of 12, 3, 38, 20, 25, 7 and 25 yards.
With Reynolds carrying the ball 36 times the B-backs didn't see much action. Fullback Quinton Singleton had six carries for 31 yards. The Mids were able to make plays on the perimeter all night. Five different slotbacks ran for a combined 159 yards and averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Geoffrey Whiteside had five carries for 43 yards. Two of his runs produced key first downs. Senior Darius Staten is playing the best football of his career. He ran four times for 39 yards. Staten's 26-yard gain with the Mids down 16-7 set up a field goal to make it a one score game. It was a big play that helped stabilize the game early. DeBrandon Sanders ran six times for 36 yards. Demond Brown (2 atts. for 26 yards) made a 12-yard run for a first down on Navy's initial touchdown drive. Marcus Thomas pitched in with 15 yards on two carries. The run blocking of the offensive line, the slotbacks and the wide receivers was outstanding.
PASSING DEFENSE: D
David Fales completed 42 of 56 passes for 440 yards with five touchdowns and an interception. Fales is the real deal. Other than the last series he was on target all night.
The Mids secondary had trouble matching up against the Spartans speed at receiver combined with Fales accuracy. Cornerback Myer Krah (6 tackles) bit on a bubble screen fake and Thomas Tucker slipped behind him for San Jose State's first touchdown. Krah was beat by Chandler Jones for a 23-yard touchdown on a double move. Brandon Clements (3 tackles) was beat by Kyle Nunn in overtime for a touchdown. Kwazel Bertrand (6 tackles) was beat by Kyle Nunn for both the touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime. Bertrand did all he could to break up the two point conversion but it was a great catch by Nunn.
The Mids struggled to pressure Fales. They had one sack when Jordan Drake (5 tackles) and William Tuider (4 tackles, FF, PD) teamed up to bring down Fales. The Mids did make two key plays. William Tuider forced a fumble after a reception which was recovered by Wave Ryder. The ensuing touchdown allowed the Mids to extend to a 38-30 lead. The other was when free safety Parrish Gaines.
(2 tackles, INT) read Fales perfectly and picked off a pass in the end zone in overtime. One play later Reynolds scored the game winning touchdown. Wave Ryder (6 tackles, FR) was lucky when his targeting penalty was overturned. Ryder would have been forced to miss the first half of the Army/Navy game if it wasn't overruled.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C+
The Mids allowed the Jaguars 160 rushing yards, 4.1 yards a carry and two rushing touchdowns. The inside linebackers Cody Peterson and D.J. Sargenti were very busy with 18 tackles each. Sargenti added two tackles for losses. Chris Johnson made five tackles. Nose guard Travis Bridges made five tackles but the Navy defense has missed Bernie Sarra. Running the ball was an afterthought in this game for San Jose.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Kicker Nick Sloan hit his only field goal attempts from 37 yards. Punter Pablo Beltran had to punt just once for 38 yards. Beltran placed it inside the 20-yard line. Marcus Thomas had three kickoffs for 77 yards. He nearly broke a 53-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Demond Brown returned a kickoff 21-yards. He also drew a 15-yard penalty from San Jose State on the tackle. Austin Grebe had two touchbacks on seven kickoffs. He had a big tackle on Tucker 30-yard kickoff return. Shawn Lynch had a 24-yard punt return which set up a Navy touchdown drive. Navy's coverage teams continue to do a good job covering kicks except for one 30-yard return by Tucker. Beltran's only punt was fair caught.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo did a nice job preparing his team to play. It was a short week traveling cross country for a night game. I wouldn't criticize him for not telling Reynolds not to score to run out the clock in regulation. Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said after the game "This was a really big game for Keenan. He did a lot of things right and played great tonight. He's just a good football player who understands the offense and knows how to execute it." He did that and more. Buddy Green's defense had its troubles in this game but did make two defensive plays to give the offense a chance to win.
OVERALL GRADE: A
This was one of those hold your serve offensive games that reminded me of the 2007 season. Reynolds played his heart out and made plays all night long. It was a tremendous team effort. Flying over 2,800 miles cross country to play on a Friday night was no easy task for the Mids. Thankfully there are no games the next few weeks so Reynolds can recover and be ready for the Army-Navy game. The defense wasn't very good but they made a few plays to give the offense a chance. It's why the team earns a collective ‘A'grade.
Navy Report Card: San Jose State
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