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Three Keys Reviewed: Navy vs. Pitt

Navy reached a record victory total for a season as the Mids sunk a gallant, but overmatched, Pittsburgh Panthers squad in the Military Bowl. The win was Navy’s 11th of the year and provided one last platform for Keenan Reynolds to showcase his skills in front of an adoring home crowd.

Reynolds, as he has done throughout his Navy career, made critical play after critical play when they were needed most to push his team over the line.

Here is a look back at how the keys played out:

1) Slow down Qadree Ollison - Pass

Qadree Ollison was tabbed as the player to watch coming into the game as he had taken over from James Conner and really set the table for how Pitt has played all year. The 1,000-yard rusher though was pretty much a non-factor in this contest as he rushed for just 73 yards and one touchdown. He also added another touchdown through the air on one of his two receptions for ten yards and a score. If you take out Ollison’s 45-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, when Pitt was down by 17 points, then his impact on the game was even less noticeable.

The Navy defense came into this game clearly setting out to stop the run and make Pitt win the game through the air. Pittsburgh rushed for just under 200 yards, but three big plays accounted for 88 of those yards and if felt for most of the game like Navy was controlling the line of scrimmage comfortably. This was another win for a Navy defensive line that, despite being undersized, has not let the team down once in 2015.

2) Rush the ball successfully – Pass

417 yards and five touchdowns would seem to be a successful Bowl Game on the ground. Navy rushed the ball a ridiculous 71 times against Pitt, bludgeoning the Panthers time after time until the linebackers must have been sick of seeing the Navy offensive linemen continually moving to the second level and leading their backs to long gains.

Reynolds was once again the star, setting an FBS record for total touchdowns on his way to a 144 yard and three touchdown day. Chris Swain also had one of his nest games of the season with the brutish back pounding the ball 27 times for 114 yards. Swain has always been the kind of back that gets better the more he is used and this was a perfect example of that. A mention should also go to Dishan Romine who rushed for 84 yards on four carries and who is just an excitement machine every time he touches the ball.

3) Win the turnover battle - Pass

Navy has one of the best turnover differentials in the country and that margin was only increased as Navy turned the ball over once while recording three interceptions of Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman. The Mids efforts in shutting down the run forced Peterman to beat Navy through the air and he proved to not be up to the task. The Mids defensive players pressured Peterman all game long and baited him into a number of bad throws. This proved to be the difference in the game as two first half interceptions allowed Navy to stretch the score to 21-7 at the break and 28-7 after the first possession of the second half. Pitt never seriously threatened from that point onward.


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