Navy smothers Northern Illinois, 16-0

Ricky Dobbs rushed for 122 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown in his first career start at quarterback to lead Navy (7-4) to a 16-0 victory over Northern Illinois (6-6) on Tuesday night. Eric Kettani added 84 yards and a touchdown for the Mids who will play Army on Dec. 6 in Philadelphia.

Navy's defense registered its first shutout since 2004 and was led by its secondary which produced two pivotal interceptions.

In a game that on paper seemed to mean a lot more to the home team, it was the visitors who played as if a bowl invitation was at stake. With a win, Northern Illinois would have put themselves in a position to go to a bowl game; however at 6-6, they are a long shot at best. And they can thank a gritty quarterback and a defense that made several big stops at critical points of the game. The first stop came as the Huskies were driving into Navy territory on its initial possession. On 2nd and 10 from Navy's 30 yard line, Rashawn King intercepted Chandler Harnish's pass to put an end to the Huskies impressive drive.

After Dobbs fumbled an exchange to Kettani on Navy's first offensive play of the scrimmage, it was all down hill from their for the Mids. Dobbs led Navy on a time consuming 11 minute, 18 play drive that ended in a 27-yard field goal by Matt Harmon. On the drive, Dobbs, Navy's third quarterback to start a game this season converted three third downs with his feet including a third and eight play which he ran for 19 yards.

Navy's defense forced the Huskies to punt on its next possesion, and after several running plays by Dobbs, Kettani and Greg Shinego helped the Mids advance the ball to their opponent's 36 yard line, the sophomore quarterback showed off his throwing arm. Dobbs put some touch on a pass to clear a defender and Shinego made a nice catch on a pass play that covered 32 yards. Dobbs would score from one yard out two plays later. Navy, though, failed to convert the extra point which made the score 9-0. Neither team would threaten to put points on the board before halftime.

In the second half, after Navy punted on its first possession, the Mids defense went back to work. On a fourth down at the Navy 37-yard line, Emmett Merchant stepped in front of a Harnish pass and pulled in the second interception of the day for the Mids. Merchant returned the ball 29 yards to give Navy's offense something it has not had too many times this season – a short field in which to operate with. 10 plays and 36 yards later, Navy found the endzone again. This time it was Kettani with a great second effort on third and goal with the touchdown rush.

Northern Illinois' next possession covered 20 plays and over nine minutes of the game clock, but no points. Perhaps the most critical play of the drive was when the Huskies were called for a 15-yard penalty after replay confirmed they had 12 players on the field. Before the penalty, the Huskies were facing first and goal from inside the Mids ten yard line. They would never recover, giving the ball up on downs at Navy's two yard line. Northern Illinois did not threaten to score again.

The win comes at an important time for the Mids as it gives them some renewed confidence going into their most important game of the season – against Army a week from this Saturday. Navy's offense had 295 total yards on only seven possesions – two of which ended a half.

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