Doyle, Dobbs lead Navy past WKU, 38-22

Navy knew an onside kick was coming in the final minutes of its 38-22 victory over Western Kentucky before 29,009 on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. So the coaches called for the "hands team" to take the field. Not surprisingly, senior slot back Bobby Doyle was on the hands team -- it was not a surprise because he had been just about everywhere else on the field on Saturday.

Doyle finished with 104 all-purpose yards for the Midshipmen (2-2). He touched the ball six times -- three carries for 33 yards and a team-high three catches for a career-high 71 yards.

All six touches resulted in Navy first downs. Doyle also is the holder for extra points and field goals.

"His title of 'Big Play Bobby Doyle' continues," Coach Ken Niumatalolo said after the game. "He doesn't get it often, but every time he touches the ball good things happen. ... He does whatever we ask him to do."

Doyle does not touch the ball often. He rotates on a play-by-play basis with senior slot back Cory Finnerty; they take turns relaying the play call from the coaches on the sideline.

Yet when the occasion calls, Doyle almost always is ready. He is perhaps best remembered for throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Jarod Bryant in the fourth quarter of a 46-44 come-from-behind victory over Duke in 2007.

His contributions on Saturday were much needed. The Hilltopers (0-4) started a backup quarterback -- redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes -- after the starter, senior Brandon Smith, bruised his shoulder last week. Smith entered as the team's leading rusher and passer.

But Jakes looked more than capable as a backup. He completed his first 10 passes and finished 22 of 28 for 276 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Kawaun is a tremendous example of our entire football team," WKU Coach Dave Elson said. "When his opportunity came, he was ready, he was on it and I think we revealed a heck of a quarterback today."

Navy has a pretty good quarterback, too. Junior Ricky Dobbs finished with 143 yards rushing and completed 4 of 5 passes for 100 yards. He added five touchdowns, four rushing and one passing.

The performance came one week after he was 6 for 21 passing in a 27-14 loss to Pittsburgh.

"I felt like I was more relaxed, more calm" than last week, Dobbs said. "I was letting things come to me."

Navy faced a third-and-four on its opening drive; Dobbs gained six yards on a play in which Doyle made the crucial block. The next play also was a carry by Dobbs -- this one went for a 29-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 11 minutes 5 seconds left in the first quarter.

Navy then held a team without a score on its opening possession for the first time this year, though it was not as strong as it sounds: Western Kentucky fumbled the ball at the Navy 1-yard line and junior Shane Bothel recovered.

The Hilltoppers briefly led 14-10 after a one-yard touchdown run by Jakes with 5 minutes left in the second quarter.

Navy took the lead for good, however, following Dobbs's first pass of the game. That pass went to Finnerty for a 29-yard touchdown with 2:26 left before halftime.

The Midshipmen scored on their first three drives of the second half; all three touchdowns came on short runs by Dobbs. The final touchdown, on a one-yard run, gave Navy a 38-14 lead with 9:15 to play.

Junior safety Emmett Merchant finished with a team-high nine tackles and junior Wyatt Middleton and senior Tony Haberer each added an interception for Navy. Junior linebacker Thomas Majors finished with 14 tackles for the Hilltoppers.

Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the first game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy wore special jerseys to commemorate the occasion, they were replicas of the 1959 team's jerseys.

Next week, there is another big occasion at the stadium: Air Force (3-1) comes to town in the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy. Navy has won six in a row in the series, though only one of the wins was by more than six points.

"We always play Air Force close," Dobbs said. Top Stories