Navy Report Card: South Alabama

Navy defeated South Alabama 42-40 on Friday in Mobile, Ala.'s Jim Lawler grades the Mids performance in several key team areas.

The Navy Midshipmen rallied an early ten point deficit and then survived a late rally by the South Alabama Jaguars to hold on for a 42-40 victory. It wasn't easy as two point after conversion attempts were both wiped out by penalties in the last minute. Brendon Clements intercepted Bridge's final pass attempt into the end zone. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for three touchdowns and set the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 60, passing Eric Crouch and Colin Kaepernick. The victory improved Navy's record to 6-5. The Midshipmen because bowl eligible and will appear on December 23 in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Keenan Reynolds completed only one of his four passes for 42 yards. Reynolds was sacked on his first passing attempt. Reynolds first pass was a long pass to Tillman that was on to the wrong shoulder and broken up. On the same drive Reynolds hit Demond Brown with his only completion on the day for 42- yards and a first down. Brown made a couple of nice moves to avoid multiple tacklers and pick up twenty extra yards. Reynolds threw a short pass to Ryan Williams-Jenkins that he couldn't pull in after being hit hard as the ball arrived just before halftime. Reynolds’ final pass of the afternoon was under pressure in the end zone and was thrown to Jamir Tillman and almost completed near the sideline. Thankfully Navy didn't need to pass because the Mids offensive line had trouble with the South Alabama pass rush.

Navy ran for 388 rushing yards, 7.2 yards per carry and six touchdowns. Keenan Reynolds showed patience against the South Alabama defense which focused on forcing him to give up the ball. Reynolds only ran ten times but led the Mids with 119 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Keenan showed that his knee in now healthy with his impressive burst and acceleration on his season long 67-yard touchdown run on a counter option play. Reynolds now owns the all-time NCAA touchdown rushing record for quarterbacks.

At B-back Noah Copeland (17 att., 112 yards, 2 TDs) opened the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run. He scored twice and took a pitch 42-yards to set up a Reynolds touchdown run. Noah was stripped and fumbled late in the third quarter changed the momentum of the game and led to a Jaguar touchdown. Chris Swain (9 att., 64 yards, TD) demonstrated his power and then speed as he ran for 34-yard touchdown run near the end of the first half gave the Mids a 21-17 lead.

DeBrandon Sanders (2 att., 4 yards) fumbled a third down pitch on the opening drive that gave the ball to the Jaguars deep in Navy territory and cost a field goal. Sanders would have made the first down if he caught the pitch. Ryan Williams-Jenkins ran four times for 22 yards. Demond Brown (2 att., 19 yards) hobbled off the field after a 13-yard run. Toneo Gulley took a pitch for 14 yards and a first down on fourth-and-1 on the opening touchdown drive of the second half. Dishane Romine showed speed on an eleven yard gain on a scoring drive. Calvin Cass Jr., had a ten yard run to the three yard that set up a touchdown. Geoffrey Whiteside carried five times for 12 yards and had a costly fumble late in the fourth quarter that Reynolds should have held. Jamir Tillman was tackled short of the first down on a three yard run on an end around. Tillman had to break a tackle attempt by SAU defensive end Theo Rich. Navy's running game totals deserved an "A"-grade but three lost fumbles make this a B+.

The Mids secondary allowed 21-of-32 passes for just 177 passing yards. South Alabama's Brook did throw four touchdowns but the Mids picked off two passes.

Nickle defensive back Myer Krah had a career day with 10 tackles. Krah intercepted a Brandon Bridge pass and returned it 31 yards to set up Navy's first touchdown. Rover George Jamison (4 tackles, INT) had a big interception in Navy territory with the Mids down ten points in the first half to end a drive. Jamison huge hit knocked out a Jaguar running back out of the game. Jamison was beat by wide receiver ShaVarez Smith for a 48-yard touchdown pass who pushed off but the officials missed it.

Chris Johnson generated the pass rush pressure that led to George Jamison's interception. Chris also deflected a pass to Jake Howton that was ruled a dropped but he should have earned credit for a pass break up. Will Anthony had a rare Navy sack after Brook was flushed by Bernie Sarra and it forced a punt.

Cornerback Brandon Clements played well and was in on 6 tackles. Quincy Adams (5 tackles) broke up a pass in the end zone that he should have intercepted late in the game. Adams was beat by Danny Woodside for a touchdown. It was a perfect throw and Adams was beat despite having excellent coverage.

The Mids struggled to stop the run consistently. They allowed 238 rushing yards, a 5.1 average and a score. Will Anthony ( 12 tackles, Sack) and Obi Uzoma (3 tackles) teamed to tackle Timmons short of the first down and force a punt which led to Swain's touchdown that gave the Mids the lead.

Daniel Gonzales (8 tackles) failed to maintain gap responsibility on a number of zone running plays. Parrish Gaines made 4 tackles and saved a touchdown on one. Jordan Drake (13 tackles) made nice tackle of receiver Shavarez Smith, after the Sanders fumble, short of the first down to hold the Jaguars to a field goal. Paul Quessenberry (3 tackles, TFL) drew a key holding penalty that nullified Brooks scramble and leaping over Drake and into the end zone on the two point conversion. Despite the yardage the Mids allowed only one rushing touchdown.

Kicker Austin Grebe had no field goal attempts. He had two touchbacks on his seven kickoffs. Demon Brown had a nice 42- yard kickoff return. Toneo Gulley had a 24-yard kickoff return. DeBrandon Sanders returned one punt for three yards. Pablo Beltran only punt was a rare poor effort for 33-yards. The Midshipmen allowed 32-yard kickoff return. Jamir Tillman smartly called for a fair catch on the pop up kick off attempt in the fourth quarter. Brandon Clements recovered the on-sides kick to preserve the win.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo had his team recover from what looked like a first quarter turkey hangover to get the victory. Ivin Jasper realized that the Mids offensive line had issues handling the South Alabama pass rush and limited throwing the ball. Jasper was able to get the running game in gear after a slow start. Reynolds scored three times despite the Jaguars focusing on stopping him. Buddy Green's defense didn't have one of their better games and were more lucky than good at the end.

Navy struggled early and late but still put up 42 points despite three turnovers and being stopped twice in the first half on fourth and short. It wasn't pretty but this game gives you an idea of how dominate this offense is with a healthy Reynolds and has the offensive fire power allowing it to overcome adversity. This is a game Navy may have lost if it occurred when Reynolds was hurt and wearing his knee brace. The most important outcome is the win made the Mids bowl eligible.

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