Alison Althouse-GoMids.com

Three Keys Revisited: Navy vs USF

The Midshipmen moved to 6-1 on the season and 4-0 in American Athletic Conference play with a hard fought win over USF on Saturday afternoon. Navy didn’t lead until there was less than seven minutes left in the game when Keenan Reynolds pushed the Mids in front with a bullying run from the 1-yard line.

The victory makes Navy bowl eligible for the 12th time in the last 13 years. This means the Military Bowl is now locked in, but the Mids could actually go to a more high profile venue if they can win the AAC title game.

Here is a look back at the three keys to victory over the Bulls:

1) Get back to winning on the ground - Pass

South Florida came into the game allowing just 2.8 yards per carry to backs not named Dalvin Cook. That per carry average was simply destroyed by Navy on Saturday as the Mids rolled for 428 yards on 69 carries at an average of 6.2 yards per rush. The option was working to its fullest as Navy, for the first time in school history, had three different players pass the 100 yard rushing mark in the same game. The fact that the three were a quarterback (Reynolds with 117 yards), a fullback (Chris Swain with 131 yards) and a slot back (Dishan Romine with 115 yards) just shows that the right decisions were being made on where to go with the football on each play. It was also noticeable that blockers were getting to the second level and that the Navy players always seemed to be one step ahead of their Bulls counterparts in the run game.

2) Quarterbacks rushing all day - Pass

Reynolds ran over South Florida all day, while the Bulls dual threat option Quinton Flowers had a lackluster performance making this a big pass for the Mids. Reynolds put his name in the record books with two fourth quarter rushing touchdowns that tied the collegiate mark for rushing scores in a career. Both runs were one yarders, with the second only happening after Reynolds had convinced Ken Niumatalolo to allow him to put the game away rather than going for a field goal and putting the Mids up by eight with 1:49 to go. Reynolds took the ball and, as so often in his career, found just the right push to get the ball into the end zone. With Flowers only contributing 15 yards on six carries for the Bulls this was an emphatic victory for the Navy defense.

3) Solid fourth quarter defense – Pass

The Navy fourth quarter defense has been off the charts good this season and this was the case once again against the Bulls. The Mids allowed a grand total of nine yards in the fourth quarter, five of them on a defensive offside penalty, and all at the end of a drive which started at the back end of the third quarter. After that drive ended with a missed field goal the Navy offense took over and controlled clock, aided by a fumble on special teams which gave the Mids the ball back immediately after scoring. When USF got the ball back with 1:49 left in the game the Navy defense tightened against a team that was restricted to just passing plays, squeezing the rest of the life out of the Bulls.


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