Mids Not Invited to Block Party, Fall in OT

A Poinsettia Bowl representative remarked that she had "her fingers crossed for six wins" prior to watching Navy play Ball State in Annapolis on Saturday evening. After the game, she probably started to cross her toes as well as Navy showed it has a long way to go before anyone can even start thinking about the team qualifying for a bowl game.

The Midshipmen amassed 580 yards of offense but still lost to Ball State 34-31 in overtime on Saturday to fall to 1-2 on the season.

 

The end came for the Mids as Jake Hogue kicked a 24-yard field goal on Ball State's first possession in overtime to seal the win for the Cardinals (2-1).  Ball State only needed a field goal because on Navy's first play of the extra session, linebacker Bryant Haines recovered a fumbled pitch by the Mids back-up quarterback Jarod Bryant. 

 

It was the second turnover of the game for the Mids who have now given the ball away to its opponents seven times in their first three contests of the season.

 

"We didn't make the plays we needed to win the game," said Navy coach Paul Johnson.  "In overtime, we couldn't have asked them to line up any better with the play we called.  I think he might have scored if he got the ball.  But we fumbled it and they went down and scored."

 

Bryant, who took responsibility after the game for the miscue, had started the second half and overtime period in place of the injured Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada who hobbled into the locker room at halftime with two sprained ankles.  Before departing the game Kaheaku-Enhada had compiled 117 yards rushing including an 80-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.

 

"It was frustrating with it being in front of the Brigade," said Bryant.  "I think everyone knows morale is kind of low here right now.  A win like this could have turned that around."

 

Fullback Eric Ketanni led the Mids rushing attack with 126 yards on the ground which included a 71-yard touchdown run that put Navy ahead 31-24 with 7:17 left to play in regulation.  Ball State, however, would answer with a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 31 with 3:53 left to play.

 

Bryant would then march the Mids right down the field to give Navy a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ball State's Brandon Crawford blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt by Matt Harmon as time expired.  Harmon also had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked late in the first half.

 

Navy's offensive and special teams' miscues, in the end, were the difference in the game, but the Mids defense struggled to stop Ball State for much of the game – especially in the first half.  Throughout the game, Ball State used a balanced attack and some creative play calling to amass 539 yards of total offense against the Mids' young and inexperienced defensive unit – a unit which was without two of its starters, linebacker Clint Sovie and safety Jeff Deliz who were injured last week against Rutgers.  The injury bug hit Navy's defense against Ball State as well as their starting middle linebacker, Irv Spencer, left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle.  Spencer never returned to the game.

 

Spencer's injury now leaves cornerback Rashawn King as the lone remaining healthy defender who had any significant playing time prior to this season for Navy.

 

The Midshipmen will now call upon a familiar foe to help end a two-game losing streak.

 

In both 2005 and 2006 Navy was able to beat Duke to avoid a three-game losing streak.

 

In 2005, Navy started the season 0-2 before reeling off four straight victories beginning with a 28-21 win over the Blue Devils, and in 2006, Navy beat Duke 38-13 after losing back-to-back games to Rutgers and Notre Dame.    

 


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