Navy Report Card: Air Force

Navy fell to Air Force 30-21 on Saturday in Colorado Springs. GoMids.com's Jim Lawler grades the Mids performance in several key team areas.

Air Force quarterback Kale Pearson completed a touchdown pass to Garrett Brown with 35 seconds remaining in the game as Air Force defeated Navy 30-21 on Saturday. The game was tied at halftime but the Falcons opened the second half with a 15-play, 75 yards touchdown drive. Navy's top ranked rushing attack was held to just 36 rushing yards in the second half The Midshipmen entered the contest averaging 358 yards. The Falcons forced four consecutive punts and two three-and-out series in the second half. Reynolds tried to rally the Mids late as he hit DeBrandon Sanders with a 40-yard touchdown pass with 2:14 remaining in the game. Air Force recovered the on side kick and drove for a touchdown to seal the victory. The loss drops the Navy Midshipmen to a very disappointing 2-4 with their third straight defeat.

PASSING OFFENSE: D
Keenan Reynolds continued his struggles throwing the ball. Keenan completed only 6-of-14 passes for 126 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked for a loss on his first pass attempt.

The first time he threw the ball he was intercepted when Christian Spears wrestled the ball away from Calvin Cass in the end zone. Reynolds threw the ball behind the open Cass. If he had led him it would have been a touchdown.

Reynolds found wide receiver Jamir Tillman (4 for 63) on a a nice 22-yard catch and run. Jamir broke a number of tackles before being pancaked. Geoffrey Whiteside made an amazing one hand 21 yard reception on a poorly throw pass before the end of the half.

Reynolds failed to complete a pass in the third quarter as all four of his passes fell incomplete. He missed a wide open Whiteside running a deep on a wheel route inside the Air Force ten yard line. It would have been a touchdown.

Brendon Dudeck (2 for 18) caught a 9-yard pass on the final touchdown drive. Reynolds hit DeBrandon Sanders for a 40- yard touchdown pass with 2:14 remaining in the game. Sanders broke a tackle and used his speed to score. Reynolds hurt his arm after being hit late in the game after it was decided and left. He said he was okay in the postgame. Tago Smith completed both of his passes after replacing Reynolds for 16 yards. Navy's offensive line simply can't pass protect consistently. Reynolds holds the ball too long at times but he often has little or no time to throw. Reynolds was sacked three times and under pressure all game. His knee brace may be affecting his throwing motion.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C
Navy ran for 251 rushing yards, 4.6 per carry and two touchdowns. The Mids ran well early but had just 36 rushing yards in the second half. Reynolds ran for just 27 times and one touchdown on 21 carries. He lost a costly fumble on the mesh that set up an AF touchdown. His knee may be bothering him more than he lets on as he is playing with a knee brace. Reynolds hasn't played up to his high standards he set last year.

The B-backs found plenty of room in the first half but the Falcons took away with fullback in the second half. Chris Swain(14 for103, td) showed his speed and explosiveness on a 46-yard touchdown run. Noah Copeland rushed for 80 yards on eleven carries. He broke off a 53-yard run. The AF did a nice job like the often do in limiting the Navy slotbacks. Calvin Cass Jr. had the most carries with just three for ten yards. He left with an injury. It was nice to see speedy Dishan Romine ( 2 for 9) finally healthy and back in the rotation. DeBrandon Sanders had a carry for four yards. Demond Brown made two runs for ten yards and Geoffrey Whiteside had an eight yard carry. The Mids missed center Tanner Fleming who tried to play but left early in the first quarter and did not return. The Mids running game was shut down in the second half.

PASSING DEFENSE: D
The Mids secondary allowed four touchdowns as Pearson completed 11-of-16 passes for 112 yards. Wide receiver Jalen Robinette also completed a 54-yard flanker pass for a touchdown. The Falcons took advantage of Reynolds fumble when tight end Garrett Griffin ran a delayed drag route and picked up a block for a 48-yard gain. It set up a Pearson one-yard touchdown pass off a fake run that drew in a cornerback Brandon Clemens (4 tackles, PD) who left wide receiver Alex Ludowig uncovered in the end zone. Air Force fooled Navy again when wide receiver Jalen Robinette threw a 54-yard flanker pass to a wide open Garrett Brown. Kwazel Betrand (9 tackles) bit on the play action and was beat deep. Griffen caught another touchdown on the Falcons opening drive of the second half when Parrish Gaines (3 tackles) was late with the coverage again off play action with Pearson running waggle action. Cornerback Quincy Adams (5 TT, PD) broke up a pass. On the final touchdown pass the Mids were selling out to stop the run and Pearson hit a wide open Garrett Brown in the end zone. On all four touchdowns the Falcons had the Mids fooled and threw to wide open receivers off play action and trick plays.

RUSHING DEFENSE: B
The Mids did a good job against the Falcons running game until they wore down in the second half. They allowed 198 rushing yards, 4.1 yards a carry and kept them out of the end zone. Navy couldn't get stops at the end as they were worn down by being on the field much of the second half. The Navy offense went three and out in three of four series. Defensive end Will Anthony (9 tackles) had a huge game and the Falcons had trouble handling him. Nose tackle Bernie Sarra (3 tackles) had a costly unnecessary roughing penalty after a third down stop that set up a touchdown.

Inside linebacker Jordan Drake had his best game with 13 tackles. Fellow Inside linebacker Daniel Gonzalez matched his career high with 13 stops. Drake and Jordan each had third down stops to force punts. Chris Johnson had five tackles and did a good job against the run on the perimeter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Kicker Nick Sloan badly missed a very costly 38-yard field goal at the end of the first half. His job may be in jeopardy. Punter Pablo Beltran’s first punt was a 33-yard dud but he rebounded to average 44.6 yards on five punts. He nailed a 56 yarder and place two inside the twenty yard line.

The Midshipmen had no kickoff returns. DeBrandon Sanders returned to punt duty and had one return for just a yard. Navy continues to do an excellent job in kick coverage.

Austin Grebe had two touchbacks on his three kickoffs. He had a nice bounce on his onside kick but it landed in the Falcons Robinette hands. Myer Krah did a nice job corralling Robinette who almost broke free.

COACHING: C
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo's team lost three in a row for the first time since 2002. Navy has committed 10 turnovers in six games this season after leading the nation with the fewest last season. The team is in a funk and out of synch on offense. Air Force out-schemed and out coached the staff in this one. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper didn't have his best game. After rushing for 215 yards in the first half they were held to just 36 rushing yards in the second half. He tried to pass a little too much in my opinion in the third quarter when it was clear the Mids had pass protection issues and couldn't handle the Air Force blitz packages. Buddy Green defense played well but bit way too hard four times on fakes and play action where they allowed touchdowns.

OVERALL GRADE: C
Navy continues to hurt itself with two turnovers, penalties and a missed field goal. That said, the reality is that Air Force was the better team on the field last Saturday. They demonstrated their victory over Boise State was no fluke. The Navy offense is out of synch and Keenan Reynolds is not playing well. This one hurts since it probably cost the team the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

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