Collegefootballfan.com Week 5

Well, we sold out our full busload for our Annual Big Tailgate this Saturday selling all 55 tickets for Syracuse vs. Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium here in the swamps of Jersey. We expected to see a Fighting Irish team coming in ranked among the Top Ten. We also expected to see an improved Syracuse team under former Bowling Green HC Dino Babers offer the Notre Dame defense a challenge. We erred big-time on the first expectation, but look dead on regarding the second. This game could turn-out to be a high-scoring shoot-out like the 38-35 Irish loss to Duke, the 36-28 loss to Michigan State, and the 50-47 OT loss to Texas. The Irish (1-3) can put points on the board with DeShone Kizer at QB, but its defense can’t stop anybody (Ok -Nevada, 39-10). He’s completed 62.1% of his passes for 1,096 yards, 11 TDs, and three INTs. However, 33.5 ppg against the defense is probably not going to improve too much against the Orange. Led by improved QB Eric Dungey under Babers’ tutelage, he’s completed 65% of his passes for 1,397 yards, nine TDs and 3 INT. His favorite WR Amba Etta-Tawo leads the nation with 706 receiving yards. He has five TD receptions. Last Sunday, HC Brian Kelly fired his defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder and replaced him with defensive analyst Greg Hudson. Hard to believe that improvement has taken a drastic turn over the last few days, but we’ll be there to see if the Irish get a little more fired up to start turning their poor start into at least a winning season…

DeShone Kizer should get the protection he needs this Saturday to put up some big numbers against Syracuse.  The Irish will need them.

DeShone Kizer should get the protection he needs this Saturday to put up some big numbers against Syracuse. The Irish will need them.

In addition to Etta-Tawo, we have or will see many of the top players leading in the nation in major statistical categories after four weeks of play in the FBS. No. 2 Ohio State’s DBs Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore both lead the nation in INTs tied with others for three. We will see them against struggling Penn State (2-2) on October 22. Cal QB Davis Webb currently leads in passing yards with 1,837. His favorite target, Chad Henson, is ranked right behind Etta-Tawo for second with 656 yards. We will see the Cal Bears (2-2) clash with their rival No. 7 Stanford (3-0) in The Big Game on November 19 in Berkeley. The FBS’s leading rusher is our friend Tom Ables’ favorite RB, San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey. He leads with 599 yards and ran for 1,653 last year when we saw him and the Aztecs fall to Penn State, 37-21 . A key to that victory was the Lions shutting him down holding Pumphrey to only 56 yards and a TD on 18 carries. As far as team rushing, Army (3-1) leads all 130 FBS teams averaging 374.8 Yards per game. We saw them defeat Temple and fall to Buffalo. On November 5 we will see the play again when they host Air Force in their Commander in Chief Trophy game. Air Force ranks No. 5 in the nation in rushing…

Army FB Andy Dickinson rambles through the Owl defense for a few tough yards.

Army FB Andy Dickinson rambles through the Owl defense for a few tough yards.

Here’s our predictions for this week’s big games: Memphis (3-0) visits Ole Miss (2-2). Last season with Paxton Lynch at QB, the Tigers upset the Rebels, 37-24. The Memphis record is deceiving and new QB Riley Ferguson hasn’t been challenged yet. At The Grove a year after the upset, Hugh Freeze’s team will be up to win this one…Louisville at Clemson. As much as we like Deshaun Watson, we think Lamar Jackson is just going to continue to run rampant against the Clemson Tiger defense…Stanford and Washington meet Friday night. Washington has played Stanford tight the last four years. HC Chris Peterson has the Huskies on the rise. However, we think this is Stanford’s year with all the key pieces in place under HC David Shaw. QB Ryan Burns is developing into another good Cardinal QB, and Christian McCaffery is ready to explode. We’re going with Stanford…Wisconsin has big win over LSU on a “neutral” site and a big win at Michigan State last week. Can they do it at Michigan this week? We don’t think so although we’re hoping they can. Michigan plays its fifth straight home game and has Rutgers next week. All their focus is on Wisconsin (no pun intended).   The Wolverines will settle for nothing less than a showdown against Ohio State on November 26…

This is where U of M is focused this season.

This is where U of M is focused this season.

Here’s one we have great interest in. Navy (3-0) at Air Force (3-0). They will be playing in the first go around for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy played for between them and Army annually. These two have won it over the last 19 years between each other. As Navy HC Ken Niumatatolo pointed out earlier this week, this is the first time the two Academies enter this game both undefeated. This is big! Both teams won their previous game by a touchdown and Navy had last week off to get ready to go out to Colorado Springs. Both excel at the triple option and Air Force leads Navy in rushing yards, but wins over Abilene Christian and Georgia State were dominant which they should have been. Both teams know how to defend against the triple option as well as anybody since they run it every day themselves. Navy can throw the ball when it has to with QB Will Wentworth when necessary. Our hopes are with Navy because we’re hoping to see the Brigade fired up in Annapolis the week after when No. 6 Houston comes to town. Could be another math-up of undefeateds if Navy wins and Houston defeats UConn next Thursday. The Huskies were the one team to knockoff UH in 2015.   We say, Go Navy! In a close battel with their second biggest rival…

Navy and Air Force battled it out last season in Annapolis with Navy finishing on top in their 11-2 season.

Navy and Air Force battled it out last season in Annapolis with Navy finishing on top in their 11-2 season.

Speaking of the US Navy, our friend Tom Ables will be with his San Diego state Aztecs when they meet South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama this Saturday. Thrilled to be with his Aztecs on the road once again, this trip is a special treat for Tom now attending at least over 780 Aztec games since he started doing this in 1946. That was that year that Tom was decommissioned from the Navy after WWII to become a civilian and a student at San Diego State after being stationed on the battleship USS Alabama. Now a floating museum in Mobile Bay, Tom is excited that he is going to be able to go on board and relive some fond memories he had as a crew member aboard his old ship. Tom is a proud and happy Navy veteran looking forward to a great weekend. We’re very happy for him. Congratulations, Tom, and thank you and all your shipmates for serving our country!

Tom Ables is still going strong into the 2016 season after catching up with him at Beaver Stadium last season.

Tom Ables is still going strong into the 2016 season after catching up with him at Beaver Stadium last season.

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Game 515:  Winless Buffalo upends undefeated Army in OT, 23-20

Winless Buffalo upends undefeated Army in OT, 23-20

Amherst, NY – The Buffalo Bulls (1-2) overcame a 20-6 deficit entering the third quarter to defeat the Black Knights of Army (3-1) by tying the game in regulation with 2:28 left on QB Tyree Jackson’s second TD of the game, and PK Adam Mitcheson made up for an earlier missed extra point by booting a 33-yard FG in the first OT for the Bulls’ first win of the season, 23-20.  Despite 396 rushing yards by Army, the Bulls D turned back the dreaded Army triple option back on several fourth down conversion attempts, and during the final period, Jackson converted three pass completions to TE Mason Shreck to convert critical downs to keep two drives alive for 14 points.  The game featured two burgeoning FBS programs we expect to see improve over the next few years into more competitive programs due to the credit of their head coaches, Jeff Monken of Army and Lance Leipold of Buffalo, who respectively took these lean programs over three and two years ago.  It was an exciting, hard-fought game attended with two first-time Guest Game Analysts, Bill Knab (Fredonia State) and his fiancé Liz (Univ. of Rhode Island), who recently returned to the Buffalo area where they are enjoying retirement.

Bulls TE Mason Shreck makes one of his critical first down catches on Saturday night against army.

Bulls’ TE Mason Shreck (85) makes one of his critical first down catches on Saturday night against Army.

Army’s triple option offense baffled the Bulls at the start as the Cadets drove 71 yards the first time they possessed the ball.  RB Jordan Ashberry ran around the right end on a 15-yard option play to put the Black Knights up, 7-0.

Entering the second period, Army was on the move starting from their 16.  RB Tyler Campbell converted a run on fourth and two to the Bulls’ seven where PK Blake Wilson eventually nailed a 21-yard FG to extend the Army lead, 10-0.  The end of the half finished with Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw lofting a long, high pass near the end zone that was intercepted by UB CB Brendan Williams on the one-yard line where Buffalo would run out the clock.

Army stops UB RB Jordan Johnson near the goal line early in the third period.

Army stops UB RB Jordan Johnson (2) near the goal line early in the third period.

At the half, a female fan fell far short of the goal in a field long punt, pass, and kick contest.  A male UB student fielded three “punts” fired from a machine successfully to win free stuff for all the UB students.  The UB marching band, dubbed The Thunder of the East Marching Band, performed at halftime honoring the Military and all Veterans playing the music of all five major branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.  A fireworks display followed, and Bill, Liz, and I all hoped that we’d see both squads, especially Buffalo, start lighting things up to make this game more interesting.

Fireworks during halftime had us wanting more during the second half of play to come.

Fireworks during halftime had us wanting more during the second half of play to come.

Buffalo’s defense got things going early in the third period as they forced a fumble with LB Ishmael Hargrove recovering at the Cadet 23.  The turnover resulted in a one-yard TD plunge by Jackson following a key completion to TE Mason Shreck to gain a first down on third and six to the seven.  Buffalo still trailed 10-6 as Mitcheson’s point-after attempt fell to the ground after hitting the right upright.  Army seemed to be on the move again for a long drive until DE Brandon Crawford dropped Campbell for a seven-yard loss at the UB 33.  Army settled for Wilson’s 33-yard FG and took a 13-7 lead.  The Black Knight offense got going again late in the third and drove 62 yards ending with Bradshaw (22 carries for 126 yards, 1 TD) scoring on a five-yard TD run.  The Black Knights led 20-6 seemingly in control entering the final period.  In the fourth, we would find out that Bradshaw still can’t pass if his life depended on it as we witnessed last season (3 of 8 for 38 yards, I INT) as he was way off mark on several critical passing attempts, and Jackson found a reliable receiver in his TE Mason Shreck (five catches, 58 yards) as his wideouts let several long passes on their marks slip through their fingers on several occasions.

Ahmad Bradshaw (17) carried the ball in from the five to put Army up 20-6 at the end of the third.

Ahmad Bradshaw (17) carried the ball in from the five to put Army up 20-6 at the end of the third.

Starting the fourth, both defenses stopped the opposing offense on a fourth down attempt to maintain possession.  On a sideline route, Jackson connected with Marcus McGill on a short pass to the left sideline and ran it all the way to the Army 17.  On fourth and one at the eight, he completed his pass to sure-handed Shreck at the six for a first down.  Next, he fired a pass to the back left corner of the end zone where he connected with his diving WR Kamathi Holsey for a score to cut Army’s lead, 20-13.   Buffalo forced Army to punt next from its 29.  Taking over from his 38, Jackson completed a critical pass to Shreck on fourth and nine to the Army 40 where the big TE fought to get the extra yard to which Bill noted, “Great second effort!”  After another incompletion through a receiver’s finger tips, Jackson connected with his now go-to guy Shreck for a first down at Army’s eight.  With 2:28 left, Jackson went over from the one and Mitcheson’s PAT tied it, 20-20.  Army returned the ensuing kick-off out to their 38 with the goal of getting into FG range.  On third and four at UB’s 42, Bradshaw misfired badly to an open receiver.  Kell Walker’s run got them to their 31. With second and eight at the 17, Lance Leipold used all three of the Bulls’ remaining time-outs to “ice” Wilson.   Wilson made an attempt for a 31-yard FG, but it went wide left exposing the West Point kicking game as yet another soft spot in the Army offense.  The icing worked.  The game went into over-time.

Bulls RB Jonathan Hawkins takes a handoff for a short gain in the second period.

Bulls RB Jonathan Hawkins takes a handoff for a short gain in the second period.

UB won the toss and went on defense to start.  A holding call on the first play from scrimmage set them back at the 40.   Bradshaw completed two short passes that put them in a fourth and eleven at the 26. The best the Cadets could do was attempt a 43-yard FG well out of Wilson’s range.  Wide right!  Buffalo took over.  Jackson ran it down to the 11.  Mitcheson’s kick went through for the 23-20 Bull win and the and the remaining students among the 19,217 in attendance tonight (Bill figured most of the student section had left for the local bars when down 20-6) celebrated a hard-fought come from behind with their school mascot, Victor E. Bull!  The Bulls and Cadets both played hard throughout, and we expect to see both programs continue to win more and more games the next few season under their very good coaching staffs.

UB mascot Victor E. Bull anticipated celebrating with his fans for the first time this season before the game against Army.

UB mascot Victor E. Bull anticipated celebrating with his fans for the first time this season before the game against Army.

Next week, UB heads to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to play their final non-conference game before entering Mid-American Conference play when they meet winless Boston College.  Army has a bye next Saturday before heading to Durham, NC to meet Duke.  Last season, we saw the Blue d/evils hand army their worst defeat of the season, 44-3.  This game will be a true barometer of Army’s improvement since last year.  We’ve seen enough that we have altered our plans on November 5 and will instead attend the Army vs. Air Force game on that day in West Point.  Next Saturday, Collegefootballfan.com will hold its Big Tailgate with a busload of friends and the Boonton Knights of Columbus when we see disappointing Notre Dame (1-3) play Syracuse (2-2) in MetLife Stadium.  Bill and Liz planned a DH weekend to see their beloved Buffalo Bills host Arizona the next afternoon after our Saturday night at the University of Buffalo Stadium.  Their Bills won, 33-16.

Liz and Bill were happy to see thier Buffalo Bulls and Bills win over this weekend!

Liz and Bill were happy to see their Buffalo Bulls and Bills win over this weekend!

 

Extra points:  LB Andrew King led Army in tackling with 12 stops.  For Buffalo, LBs Jarrett Franklin led with 17 tackles and his fellow LB Khalil Hodge racked up 16.

QB Chris Carter saw a series of action for Army.  With a week off, maybe he will take more reps during practice and see some more action against Duke.

Onward and upward are the hopes of the Bulls' fans getting ready to start Mid-American Conference games two weeks from now.

Onward and upward are the hopes of the Bulls’ fans getting ready to start Mid-American Conference games two weeks from now.

 

 

Collegefootballfan.com Week 4

Army at Buffalo

We are in Amherst. New York today to see a match-up between programs under fairly new competent coaching staffs. One is already making significant progress.  The other is s work in process. Army under third-year Head Coach Jeff Moncken is a surprising 3-0.  Their defense is looking solid and their offense is coming around with FB Andy Davidson powering yardage up the middle to give the option a basis to get the yardage around the ends.  Buffalo (0-2) is under HC Lance Leipold in his second season here in Amherst.  Leipold, who led Wisconsin-Whitewater to six national championships at the D3 level, led the Bulls to a 5-7 season a year ago.  Still working on building his roster, he is a year or some from getting things turned around for this MAC program.  Army has the momentum coming in today, but the Bulls will be looking to build with a tough chore ahead of them to stop Army’s running game in their home game tonight. Kickoff is at 7 pm.

Army surprised Temple in this year's opener as Andy Davidson (40) provide power running on the dive play to improve Army's option play.

Army surprised Temple in this year’s opener as Andy Davidson (40) provide power running on the dive play to improve Army’s option play.

Game # 514: Rutgers overcomes 21-point deficit to avoid New Mexico upset, 37-28

Rutgers overcomes 21-point deficit to avoid New Mexico upset, 37-28

New Brunswick, NJ: “The Birthplace” – The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (2-1) fell behind 21-0 in the first period to the New Mexico Lobos (1-2), but three seconds left in the period, QB Chris Laviano connected with WR Juwan Harris for a 75-yard TD pass to cut the lead.  The Knights would score the next 24 points of the game before the Lobos would score again, and then walk-on PK David Bonagura would add two FGs late to give RU the final points to seal the victory.  They overcame a 21-point deficit to avoid a New Mexico upset bid, 37-28.

WR Janarion Grant’s early fumble resulted in New Mexico’s first score, but his diverse contributions later would be keys to the Scarlet Knights’ win.  Guest Game Analyst Frank Scarpa, RU fan and grad, was very happy with the result, but contemplating the Knights’ future starting Big Ten play next week.

RB Tyrone Owens of New Mexico gets the Lobos some running room early in the first period.

RB Tyrone Owens of New Mexico gets the Lobos some running room early in the first period.

New Mexico’s first punt of the game was mishandled by Grant and gave them possession at the Rutgers 17.  RB Daryl Chestnut (41 rushes for 114 yards) ran the ball in for a 19-yard TD.  Two offensive series later, QB Austin Apodaca who platooned with Lamar Jordan at the position every other series, threw a 37-yard TD strike to WR Patrick Reed.  On their next possession, Jordan sped 52 yards on an option from the pistol formation for the Lobos third score of the first 15 minutes looking like they were going to turn this game into a laugher with a 21-0 lead. On his run near the sideline, RU safety Anthony Cioffi gave Jordan a shove which did not knock him out of bounds, but instead propelled him up the field for the score.  During various plays during the game, Frank and I spoke about our dislike for the option run from the pistol formation –  a back three yards behind the QB in the shotgun.  The pitches to the deep backs risk more losses more than gains because of the depth of the play compared to the triple option that Navy runs from right under center.  Ten seconds later in the frame, Laviano connected with Juwan Harris with a pass directly down the middle for a 75-yard TD pass to close the first quarter scoring at 21-7.

RB Daryl Chestnut breaks free on long scamper for the Lobos in the second period

RB Daryl Chestnut breaks free on long scamper for the Lobos in the second period.

Rutgers’ first series of the second resulted in a well-executed play with Laviano sprinting to his right and pitching back to Grant on a fake reverse.  Grant looked into the end zone and tossed a spiral into the end zone to WR Andre Patton for a 21-yard TD pass.  The Scarlet Knight defense forced another punt after a three and out series.  Eighty yards later, RU fired by UNM on a dive play up the middle by Robert Martin (21 carries for 169 yards) who went virtually untouched for the score.  The momentum was now with the home team with 39,680 fans in attendance.  Late in the period, New Mexico punted from its 35.  Grant fielded the low kick on a bounce, started left, and then cut down the right sideline for a 69-yard touchdown return with 1:04 left and a Scarlet Knight 28-21 lead.  Apodaca came out throwing the ball with a drive starting from his 34, but his typical floater of a pass was intercepted by DB K.J. Gray at the ten where RU took a knee on the final play of the half. Frank noted that SUNY QB Tom Wright we’d seen in the D-3 clash the evening before had much better arm strength than did the New Mexico QB.  After and early morning tailgate consisting mostly of Bloody Mary’s and peach crumb cake, I went out into the concession area and got us my favorite stadium food anywhere – two Premio Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions, a perfect lunch at halftime.

This young Rutgers fan was just emotionally drained after watching his Scarlet Knights overcome their 21-0 deficit in the second period.

This young Rutgers fan was just emotionally drained after watching his Scarlet Knights overcome their 21-0 deficit in the second period.

Rutgers recovered a UNM fumble in the third period which we could not believe was reviewed having seen so many evident calls delayed to be replayed.  The turnover resulted in a 40-yard FG by Bonagura to put the Knights up by ten, 31-21.  Neither team scored again in the third, and Los Lobos were in business at the the RU 39 when the period ended.

From 22 yards out, RB Richard McQuarley took the dive handoff through the middle and went unscathed for a New Mexico TD to bring the Lobs back to within three with 12:12 left to play.  Rutgers next drove to the 28, intentionally took a delay to punt at the 33 as HC Chris Ash decided to forgo a FG or first down attempt.  The call worked perfectly as Dacoven Bailey downed the punt putting the Lobos on their one.  Rutgers got the ball back on their 35 with Zach Allen replacing an ineffective Laviano (11 of 27 passing for 152 yards, 1 TD) at QB.  Stopping RU around the Lobo 30 for a fourth down and six, UNM S Lee Crosby pulled the bonehead play of the season thus far with an unsportsmanlike penalty by running up behind Janarion Grand and belting him from behind well after the play was over.  Lobo HC Bob Davie deservedly chewed him out and pulled him out of the game for such a stupid, bonehead penalty after a big stop for his defense.   We wonder how far down the depth chart Crosby falls after this.  His idiocy gave RU new life, and Bonagura drilled a 33yard FG to go up six, 34-28.  An ensuing New Mexico punt from the eight was returned by Grant (7 punt returns for 112 yards) to the New Mexico 16.  With 3:05 left, Bonagura converted a 28-yard FG to seal the game against the fading Lobos behind now by nine points.  New Mexico, however, drove deep into RU territory with over one-minute left.  The attempt to get back within six to try to win with the benefit of an ensuing, recovered onsides kick, but the dream went away as Jason Sanders 33-yard attempt went wide left. Final score:  Rutgers 37 New Mexico 28.  It was a great come from behind win for the home team, but how many more wins will they enjoy this season?

Most of the action this afternoon at our end of the stadium was performed by the RU Dance Team.

Most of the action this afternoon at our end of the stadium was performed by the RU Dance Team.

Next Saturday at noon, RU opens Big Ten play against Iowa coming off a 23-21 loss to FCS five time defending champ North Dakota State.  New Mexico hosts San Jose State.  Collegefootballfan.com had plans to go to Princeton after this game to see the Tigers host the Lafayette Leopards in their season opener at 5 pm, but the traffic out of The Birthplace and good games on tap on the tube this evening changed that plan.  Princeton won, 35-31.  Next Saturday, we shuffle off to Buffalo to see improving 3-0 Army play the Buffalo Bulls (1-2).

Extra points: Two defensive linemen led RU in tackles.  Julian Pinnix-Odrick had 12 with 5 solos, and Darius Hamilton garnered ten with five solos also.

"U-rah! U-rah! Rutgers Rah!"

“U-rah! U-rah! Rutgers, Rah!”

Game # 513: SUNY Maritime Privateers sail past the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 20-16

SUNY Maritime Privateers sailed past the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 20-16

Throggs Neck, NY – On the banks of the Long Island Sound in Throggs Neck in New York City on the State University of New York Maritime campus, it was a beautiful, cool, clear evening looking out toward the Freedom Tower in Manhattan as the SUNY Privateers celebrated Heroes Appreciation Day.  Many of the graduates from both schools go on to serve in the US Military.  In a game that intensified as the game played out into the fourth quarter, the SUNY Maritime Privateers sailed past the U.S. Merchant Marine academy, 20-16.

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Honoring America’s heroes before the coin toss at SUNY Maritime.

After the pregame festivities, the USMMA Mariners forced a punt on three and out and took over from their 33.  From there, they drove the length of the field as QB Robert Moore (32 carries for 142 yards) scored a three-yard run to give the visitors from Kings Point an early 7-0 lead.  Early in the second period, SUNY lit up the scoreboard with a 26-yard FG by Matt Murphy.  Late in the second period, Moore’s fumbled pitch was recovered by MLB Paul Lamarca at the Merchant Maine 18.  Four plays later, Murphy converted again from 32 to close the first half scoring and to cut the lead down to 7-6 in favor of the Merchant Marine Academy going into the halftime intermission.

The Privateers (in white) opening drive.

The Privateers (in white) opening drive.

On the first series of the second half, USMMA drove the length of the field 68 yards to put up another six points with Wiley Martin’s four-yard TD plunge.  A bad snap on the point after negated the extra point and the Mariners were up, 13-6.  On their next possession, the Privateers converted twice on fourth downs starting from their 28 to get to the King’s Point 19.  Strong-armed QB Tom Wright tossed the ball deep into the back of the end zone in the right corner to WR Christian Castle for a 19-yard scoring strike to even things up, 13-13.  The SUNY Privateers next forced the Merchant Marines to punt from their ten and took over with good field position before entering the final period at the USMMA 47.

SUNY picks up yards on its third period scoring drive

SUNY picks up yards on its third period scoring drive

On third and seven at the Mariners’ 11-yard line, Wright (21 for 26, 173 yards, two TDs passing) zipped another pass to WR Brett McKinney for six points and 20-13 Privateer lead. The Mariners responded with a drive to the Privateer 11 where they had to settle for Erik Swayne’s 28-yard GB with 11:07 remaining in the game.  The Mariner defense held SUNY Maritime to a three and out.  Their next offensive series was halted by the stingy Privateers at the 38 of SUNY where they took over on downs.  However, the home team Privateers gained no yardage and punted back.  With 1:46 remaining, Moore (1 of 5 for 17 passing yards) was intercepted by CB Brian Price.  Game over and the SUNY Privateers (2-1) celebrated their second win of the season, 20-16.

The Privateers' defense rose to the occasion late in the game to preserve the win.

The Privateers’ defense rose to the occasion late in the game to preserve the win.

It was a quick game completed in about two hours and 30 minutes.  Two linebackers led both teams with many tackles.  Merchant Marine MLB Josh Woodburn tallied 14 tackles including 12 solos.  For the Privateers, OLB Eric Wallace garnered 17, nine of which were solo.  Guest Game Analyst Frank Scarpa and I had pizza from the Third Avenue Pizza concession stand in the parking lot near the bleachers. They fired up the stove oven to 900 degrees. Pizzas baked in less than two minutes, but our opinion was that they should pull them out a little quicker as the pizzas we and others had were slightly over-charred, but they still tasted pretty good.

All USMMA players displayed the Stars and Stripes during the game.

All USMMA players displayed their Stars and Stripes during the game.

The Privateers are off next week before starting Eastern Collegiate Football Conference play at home against Husson of Maine on October 1.  The Mariners (1-1) also start conference play in the Liberty League next week when they play home against Rochester. Collegefootballfan.com headed back to Jimmy’s in Haledon, NJ for wings and to catch up on other Friday night games.  The next morning, we were heading to The Birthplace of College Football to see Frank’s favorite team, Rutgers, host the Lobos of New Mexico.

A beautiful, clear night to gaze on The Freedom Tower next to Old Glory.

A beautiful, clear night to gaze on The Freedom Tower in the distance next to Old Glory from the bleachers at SUNY Maritime.

Collegefootballfan.com Week 3

Collegefootbalfan.com Week 3

Big week of great matchups between ranked teams in nonconference games this week in Collegefootballfan.com Week 3.  We are looking for this to happen:  Louisville over Florida State as the Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson is hot and FSU’s defense is not.  LU’s defense is tough; Ole Miss over Alabama as the Rebels rolled back the Tide the last two years and the Hotty Toddies will be fired up before this game coming from in The Grove; the Irish over Michigan State on DeShone Kizer’s arm; Ohio State over Oklahoma based on Urban Myer outcoaching Bob Stoops; Stanford beats up USC after a week off and McCaffrey running wild; Oregon over Nebraska with a lot of points…

The Buckeye's will be looking to hammer Oklahoma this Saturday.

The Buckeye’s will be looking to hammer Oklahoma this Saturday.

We settle for New Mexico (1-1) at Rutgers (1-1) looking for the Lobos to edge the Scarlet Knights out because RU will be over confident.  Bob Davie has an experienced defense returning and RU is still trying to figure out what they got in Collegefootballfan.com Week 3. And in all fairness, Chris Ash is learning how to be a head coach on the job.   They struggled in the first half to 14-14 draw with FCS Howard last week. WR Janarion Grant might not be enough to get the Scarlet Knights on the board if they don’t get off to a quicker star this week.  They can’t take UNM lightly …

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to compete with the Lobos this Saturday.

Rutgers may need a Knight in shining armor upon a noble steed to compete with the Lobos this Saturday.

Our Army at Buffalo kick off is scheduled for 7 pm on Oct. 24…Penn State’s offense got rolling last week late in their 42- 39 loss to Pitt until some questionable play-calling finished off a potential rally. We look for them to battle a tough Temple team coached by former Lion LB Matt Rhule in another tight one as Temple will not be intimidated and will continue to improve. PSU will be looking for revenge.  Temple hopes to get all-Conference RB Jahad Thomas back on to the field.  The Nittany Lion offense has to get clicking early…We’re interested seeing No. 25 Miami visit Appalachian State who almost pulled the opening weekend upset of Tennessee before falling in OT.  Miami is trying to climb back into significance under former Georgia HC Mark Richt, but ASU is an up and coming team under Scott Satterfield and is just looking for an opportunity like this to make a statement that the Sun Belt is a conference to be reckoned with in the future. They finished 11-2 last season.   I think they will come out on top…

The Appy State - up and coming since we saw them destroy Georgia State two years ago, 44-0.

 Appy State – up and coming since we saw them destroy Georgia State two years ago, 44-0.

What’s with Houston HC Tom Herman giving a peck on the cheek to all his big, hairy Houston Cougar players before game?   Ugh!  Give me a break! This is football.  There is no kissing in football!…The Alma Mater, D3 Juniata College, has gotten off to a flying start at 2-0 and face the Gettysburg Bullets this Saturday in Collegefootballfan.com Week 3. They took a 42-21 decision over Dickinson last Saturday. QB Hank Coyne threw 13-of-23 for 280 yards and three touchdowns. RB David Vidovic added a pair of scores and 59 yards rushing. Juniata picked off three passes.  Great start by HC Tim Launtz and his team…Mount Union (1-0) is at No. 1 in D3 with Wisconsin Whitewater (2-0) ranked No. 2.  Delaware Valley made a statement with a win over Wesley in its opener to step in at No. 14, and George Lazarides’ alma mater, Johns Hopkin’s, is No. 12… North Dakota State (2-0) is No. 1 in the FCS followed by the Richmond Spiders.  Fordham (1-1) is one game off the Top 25 after a big win over Elizabeth City State last week. They are off this week before hosting Ivy power Penn. Delaware (2-0) heads to play Wake Forest…

Delaware steps up to take on an ACC team this week.

Delaware steps up to take on an ACC team this week.

Among the Ivy openers, returning co-champ Dartmouth has the greatest challenge hosting in-state rival New Hampshire (1-1).  I Collegefootballfan.com Week 3, we will tack on the Princeton Tigers game after the Rutgers game Saturday to see them play Lafayette (1-1), a team they knocked off last year, 40-7.  QB Joe Lovett returns to lead the Tigers after tying for the League led in TDs last season with 10…This Saturday the Arizona Wildcats will wear uniforms that will remember and honor the U.S.S. Arizona and its crew, which was bombed in the Pearl Harbor attack 75 years ago.  They host Hawaii. Their jerseys and helmets will display decals and patches commemorating the battleship. Players’ jersey back nameplates will feature the ship’s hull number, helmets will display U.S.S. Arizona’s battle cry, “At ’em Arizona”, and the “A” on their helmets’ sides will be that of the ship’s team’s logo worn by players on the ship now a Memorial site at Pearl Harbor. A nice tribute to the memory of that fatal day.  The Army-Navy game will be played three days after the actual anniversary. Surely there will be a tribute at the game that we will be at to see in Baltimore on December 10.

 

 

Game 512: Navy stop at one-yard line with six seconds tops UConn, 28-24

Navy stop at one-yard line with six seconds tops UConn, 28-24

Nobody at this game knelt for the Flag.

Nobody at this game knelt before the Flag.

Annapolis – UConn used its final time-out after Bryce Sherriffs completed a pass to Hergy Mayala who caught the pass and landed on his butt out of bounds at the Navy one with 17 seconds remaining.  Then, Bob Diaco’s UConn staff sent RB Ron Johnson up the middle where he was met by a Navy stop by the heart of the defensive interior who turned him away for no gain before the final six seconds ran down, and Navy (2-0) defeated the UConn Huskies, 28-24, in an exciting American Athletic Conference finish.

Navy FB Chris High nears UConn goal line in first half.

Navy FB Chris High carries the ball in from the six for the Mids’ first score.

The Midshipman were in total command of the Huskies late in the second period 21-0 before UConn blocked a low 32-yard FG attempt by Bennett Moehring.  Prior to that miss, Navy chewed up yardage and the clock throughout the first two periods and looked like they would sail on to an easy victory.  The Mids scored on their first two possessions driving 96 yards with FB Chris High scoring from the six in the first, and they followed with an 80-yard drive finished off by QB Will Worth plunging over from the one with 10:55 left in the second.  Navy’s next possession covered 55 yards to the UConn one where the Huskies halted their drive and took over on downs.  However, on the very next play, UConn’s Shirreffs fumbled the ball on a tackle by strong safety Alohi Gilman who also recovered the ball in the end zone for the third Navy score to build the lead, 21-0.  On the ensuing kickoff, Navy caused another fumble and Gilman recovered the ball once again to put USNA at the Huskies’ 22 before Moehring’s attempt was blocked.  With ten tackles, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries and his touchdown, Gilman was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week.  After the block, however, the complexion of the game changed drastically.

UConn QB Brant Shirreffs and the rest of the Huskies' running game were held in check by Navy early in the game.

UConn QB Bryant Shirreffs (4) and the rest of the Huskies’ running game were held in check by Navy early in the game.

UConn opted away from its preferred running game and took to the air waves.  Each time Sherriffs dropped back to pass, Navy blitzed from deep in their secondary, but to no avail. Instead, Sherriffs (23 of 26 for 239 yards, no INTs) hit receivers wide open before much pressure could be applied.  With 1:10 left in the half, Shirreffs connected with WR Noel Thomas for a touchdown on a 34-yard slant pass before the Navy Drum and Bugle Corps presented its halftime presentation to the Navy crowd for the second Saturday in a row.  St. Laurie and I went for some shade under the upper deck of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial and some cold drinks heavy with ice to get out of the sweltering 90 degree temps and bright sunshine.

Shirreffs connected with WR Noel Thomas (5) on this slant pass to put UConn on the scoreboard for the first time.

Shirreffs connected with WR Noel Thomas (5) on this slant pass to put UConn on the scoreboard for the first time.

UConn’s defense adjusted and seemed to have some answers for Navy’s triple option when the second half began.  Not surprising since UConn HC Bob Diaco had faced Navy over the years as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.  They forced the Mids to a three and out on their next possession.  A completion on a fourth and five to TE Tyler Davis set up a three-yard score by RB Ron Johnson to put the Huskies within reach, 21-14.  Navy started to churn out the yardage once again starting from their 25 and seemingly ready to score again at the Husky seven when DT Mikal Myers knocked the ball loose from Chis High and CB Jamar Summers (East Orange HS, NJ) scooped up the ball and raced 93 yards the other way to tie the game at 21-all.

QB Will Worth (15) led Navy on long drives all day long.

QB Will Worth (15) led Navy on long drives all day.

In the final period, Navy punted away and Sherriffs continued to make progress through the air. Navy held their formidable running attack to only 90 yards in this game.  Navy held UConn to a 38-yard FG by Bobby Puyols that gave UConn its sudden first lead of the game, 24-21.  Both teams punted after their subsequent series.  UConn’s punt from its nine was returned by Calvin Cass for 26 yards to the UConn 17.  The Brigade of Midshipman directly across the field from us waved a flag and chanted its famous last words of US Navy officer James Lawrence in a battle during The War of 1812, “Don’t give up the ship!  Don’t give up the ship!”  With 3:08 remaining, Worth (19 carries for 44 yards and two TDs, and 6 of 8 passing for 130 yards) righted his team’s ship with another one-yard plunge to put Navy back in the lead, 28-24. Even St. Laurie noted, “They may have left too much time for UConn to score again.”  Her words seemed prophetic and UConn moved the ball at will.  The Huskies moved down field from the 20 to Navy’s 23 with :45 left.  It didn’t look good for the Navy.  Mayala caught the ball on the seat of his pants literally to stop the clock before Diaco called a play during his last time-out. The Navy stop of Johnson’s run seemed to bewilder UConn, and the Husky offense slowly unraveled with no clue as to what they should do next.  Navy watched the clock run down to “00:00” and the celebration at 2-0 began.

Navy Plebes celebrated with fans after their fourth long drive of the game and then cheered for their defense to stop the Huskies.

Navy Plebes celebrated with fans after their fourth long drive of the game and then cheered for their defense to stop the Huskies.

The Mids in the stands got Liberty call for their spirit in the last second win.  It was a nail-biter for Navy as it won its twelfth consecutive game at Navy-Marine Corp.  Its next game will probably be one of the greatest home challenges ever there when Houston, currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, comes calling.  We’re not sure when the last time a team ranked that high came to play Navy in Annapolis.  With a potent passing attack led by Heisman candidate Greg Ward, Jr, the Mids’ pass defense will need to improve a lot to stop the Cougars based on how they struggled to stop a run-oriented UConn passing attack.  We’ll be there for that one, and the Brigade will be fired up if they can get by Tulane in New Orleans, another run-oriented team next week and against archrival and option-oriented Air Force on October 1 out in Colorado Springs.

The Huskies (1-1) host Virginia next week at “The Rent” in East Hartford.  We will see them play there later this season when they host Temple.  Collegefootballfan.com has three games in our plans for next weekend starting with a confrontation between two other sea-faring programs on Friday night.  The Mariners of the US Merchant Marine Academy (1-0) of Kings Point, NY will travel a few miles east to Throggs Neck to do “battle under the bridge” against the Mariners of SUNY Maritime (1-1) in a local, D3 rivalry that we look forward to.  The USMMA defeated The Coast Guard Academy last week. SUNY Maritime defeated Maine Maritime in their opener and fell 28-24 to Mass Maritime last week. It seems like a D3 round robin for all the maritime schools. Maybe they can get Christopher Newport U in Virginia into some of this action or possibly the guys from “Wicked Tuna!”  On Saturday, we will be at the noon kickoff between Rutgers (1-1) and New Mexico (1-1) at the Birthplace of College Football.  Rutgers thinks they already have this game won (“RU-tude”),  so we know that they will struggle at the very least.  It will be our second time seeing the Lobos play.  We saw then defeat Missouri in 2005.   At least we’ll have Bloody Mary’s and Crumb cake in our fabulous Jersey breakfast tradition, but I’ll probably miss out on Frank’s award-winning BBQ after the game.  I’m planning to head down the road to Princeton for the 5 pm Tiger opener against Lafayette College (1-1).  If this works out as planned, we’ll have already attended eight games over the first three weeks of the college football season. We hope to see a few more like last week’s game in Annapolis.

Navy cheerleaders.

Navy cheerleaders.

Extra points: Great tailgate with Brian, Navy Al, his buddy Dave even though he’s an Alabama and Army fan, and Air Force Jay.  Between a platter St. Laurie and I brought, pizzas that Jay brought, and BBQ Al brought prepared by his son who’s a professional chef, we had a lot to eat.  We were joined by a work colleague of mine, Dave and his son Nathaniel who’s five and attended his first football game.  Later, we tailgated after the game with Dennis and Tracy who are planning to retire in Delaware next year.  St. Laurie and I had a good time with them closing down the Navy parking lot.

Navy CB Tyris Wooten, like Gilman, also had 10 tackles for the Mids. Husky LB Matt Walsh led his team with 12 tackles followed by FS Obi Melifonwu who had 10.

Navy WR Jamir Tillman had four catches for 75 yards. For the few times you get to see him make a play, you can tell he’s an outstanding receiver and would be a cog in anybody’s passing offense.  We look for him to come up with some big catches when Navy needs them later this season.  Noel Thomas had 11 caches for 116 yards for UConn including his 34-yard TD.

 

Game # 511: Montclair State overcomes FDU-Florham, 25-15, as DiStefano totals 350 yards

 Montclair State overcomes FDU-Florham, 25-15, as DiStefano totals 350 yards

Madison, NJ – D-3 teams Montclair State and FDU-Florham played this past Friday night for the first time in 22 years, and the visiting MSU Red Hawks overcame a surprising first half FDU lead with RB John DiStefano totaling 350 yards of offense and scoring three TDs to give Montclair State a 25-15 win in the season opener for both teams. With the win, the Red Hawks still carry the best all-time record in Collegefootballfan.com history in all divisions remaining undefeated with a 13-0-1 record.   For Montclair HC Rick Giancola, it was the 231st win of his career as HC of the Red Hawks as he enters his 34th season.

The Montclair State Red Hawks took an early 7-0 lead on a short pass hauled in by RB John DiStefano who raced downfield fighting off Red Devil tacklers for a 70-yard touchdown in the first.  Frank Schneeberger tacked on three more points to the MSU lead with a 32-yard FG conversion early in the second period.  However, The FDU Red Devils put up more of a fight than we figured starting with a nine-yard out pass from QB Joe McCain to RB Marquis Wright out of the backfield.  On the conversion, back-up QB Robert Madison stood up pivoted around and raced for the right pylon in the end zone for a two-point conversion.  More trickery followed on the ensuing kickoff as PK Nick Maciejewski tapped the ball forward ten yards before recovering it on the 47 to retain possession for the Red Devils.  The result of the chicanery was a scoring drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from to 6-6 frosh WR John Pellegrini to give FDU Florham the lead at the half, 15-10.

Montclair fumbled the ball away on its first possession of the second half, but after taking a punt and starting from the 26, DiStefano struck like lightning again.  On the first play, he swerved and juked as the Devils missed him with several poor arm tackles to take it all the way for a 74-yard TD run.  A two-point try failed, but MSU retook the lead, 16-15.   On the evening, the senior from Red Bank Catholic set his MSU career-highs carrying 26 times for 184 yards, had a 70-yard TD reception, and averaged 25.5 yards on two kickoff returns. Late in the third, a snap from center for FDU sailed over the punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety to add to the Montclair lead heading into the final period, 18-15.

The resulting punt put Montclair at the FDU 49.  The Red Hawks scored quickly as the rain intensified from a light mist to a steady downpour as DiStefano ran it in from two with 13:23 left in the game to make the final score, 25-15, in favor of Montclair (1-0).  Red Hawk defensive tackle Chris DePalma caused a Devil fumble at the MSU 35 that was recovered by DE Joe Falato with 3:52 left. Montclair ran out the clock to seal the victory.  The Red Hawk defense held FDU to -21 yards rushing.

The first half was competitive as both teams seemed to shake out the cobwebs to enter the season, but as the game wore on, play got sloppy with blatant penalties (MSU – 122 yards; FDU – 82 yards) , numerous injury time-outs, poor pass protection primarily by FDU, as well as the aforementioned poor tackling. I wondered if that is a result of limited tackling in practice. I also wonder if pass blocking suffers from limited hitting in practices as well.  A game with no media time-outs whatsoever, lasted about 3 hours and 25 minutes.

FDU (0-1) plays another Friday night game at Robert T. Shields Field in Madison next weed hosting Widener University in its first Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom game.  All remaining games will be against MAC conference rivals.  Montclair starts its New Jersey Athletic Conference schedule with a trip to play Salisbury in Maryland next Saturday.  Collegefootballfan.com headed to Annapolis, Maryland for the second week in row to see Navy (1-0) open its American Athletic Conference schedule against the UConn Huskies (1-0).

Collegefootballfan.com Week 2

Collegefootballfan.com Week 2 Steveo’s Salvos

We travel back to Annapolis this weekend for Navy’s American Athletic opener against the UConn Huskies (1-0). The Mids have won 11 straight at home since 2014. UConn defeated FCS Maine last Thursday as PK Bobby Puyols converted a 37-yard FG with eleven seconds remaining for the win. Like Navy, the Huskies are a run oriented team. QB Bryant Shirreff rushed for 95 yards on 20 carries and completed 16 passes for 162 yards. RB Ron Johnson gained 65 yards and scored two TDS. The Huskies ran 50 times for 200 yards. The UConn defense allowed the Maine Black Bears only 40 rushing yards on 19 carries. Will Worth will start at QB for Navy in Collegefootballfan.com Week 2 and replaces Tago Smith who was lost for the year with a knee injury suffered against Fordham. Interesting side note to this game: Shirreff and Navy NG Pat Forrestal both had grandfathers, John and Tom respectively, who played together on the 1957 Navy team that went 9-1-1 and defeated Rice in the Cotton Bowl, 20-7…. Granted the SEC was exposed last weekend opening up with a 6-6 record. However, Tennessee was a 20-13 winner over Appalachian State and favored to win the SEC East. Beware of the Mountaineers of ASU. They were always a perennial FCS power (of course, the win over Michigan). After an 11-2 season last year including an early loss to Clemson and a win in the Camellia Bowl, this program is going to make its mark in the FBS in the Sun Belt conference. We already have them on our schedule next season at their nearby foe, Wake Forest…Christian McCaffrey of Stanford gained 126 yards running, scored two TDs, caught seven passes for 40 yards, returned a kick for 28, and gained 16 on punt returns in the cardinal win over a good Kansas State program, 26-13. He’s the reason we plan to see The Cardinal play at Notre Dame and Cal this year.  We’ve also got Stanford among our Final Four…Michigan State got by FCS Furman, 28-13, getting new QB Tyler O’Connor a start under his belt. He completed 13 of 18 for 190 yards and three TDs. They skip Collegefootballfan.com Week 2 and wait to visit Notre Dame the week after…Alabama hosts a very competitive and confident Western Kentucky team that finished 12-2 a year ago and defeated Rice 46-14 in their opener last week. Then the Tide visits Ole Miss the following Saturday. The Rebels are probably their greatest challenge to the SEC West title this season despite their loss to Florida State on Monday night. USC hosts rebuilding Utah State before going to Stanford who’s owned the Trojans beating them four of the last five seasons. This two-week stretch will answer our question…Big Ten’s best wins among their 14-2 record on week one: Minnesota over Oregon State and Wisconsin over LSU…FCS Albany defeated Buffalo, 22-16. We will see the UB Bulls host Army, upset winner over Temple that we attended, in two weeks. We also penciled in Army vs. Air Force as a potential change on November 5…No surprise, DeShone Kizer was named starting QB for Notre Dame vs. Nevada this week. We called that. There was no way that two QB system was going to last for the Irish. It changed during the comeback led by Kizer despite the 50-47 double OT loss at Texas. We thought it would last a game or two, but it lasted only into the second half…You had to love the Texas’s play-calling in that game though. Frosh QB Shane Buechele’s arm gets the Horns down field and then they bring in 250-lb Tyrone Swoopes when the get inside the ten and put him in the shotgun to get a running start into the line. It’s going to take a big defensive line to stop him in that situation…AAC’s first week went 10-2. Biggest win of course, Houston 33-23 over Oklahoma. They’ll be joining the Big 12 in the future. We look forward to seeing them play at Navy on October 8. They beat the Mids a year ago, 52-31. The Brigade will be pumped for that. The Cougars will be the highest ranked visitor to play at Navy-Marine Corps in a long time…Penn State at Pitt this weekend during Collegefootballfan.com Week 2. Neither team showed everything in their respective wins over Kent State and FCS Villanova respectively. All the stops will be pulled out this Saturday for sure. The revival of this long, lost rivalry will hopefully be renewed to be played every year again…TCU, one of our choices to be among his year’s Final Four, struggled against FCS South Dakota State into the fourth before their 59-41win. And we always think of HC Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs as defense oriented…No. 14 Washington beat up Rutgers, 48-13. Long season ahead for RU. They get a reprieve against the Howard Bison this weekend, 52-13 loser to the other Big Ten team on their schedule, Maryland. We will see the Scarlet Knights at home against New Mexico (1-0) the following week. The Knights have probably notched that game as a “win” already. That means that they will lose. We call it “RU-tude”… Florida struggled to a 24-7 win over UMass leading only 10-7 heading into the final period, and Steve Spurrier was in the House! UMass?…Colorado over Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, 44-7. QB Sefo Liufau went out last year when we saw CU lose to USC. He completed 23 of 33 for 318 yards and a TD. Go Buffs!…Hawaii travelled through what? Twelve time zones to get beat in Australia by Cal 51-31 in Australia and then by Michigan, 63-3, within eight days. There has to be a better way for the Rainbows…Best FCS Wins – Richmond 37-20 over Virginia; Albany 22-16 over Buffalo; Northern Iowa 25-20 over Iowa State; Eastern Washington over Washington State, 45-42…What a difference a coaching change can make. Dino Babers at Syracuse took over and QB Eric Dungey responded completing 34 of 40 for 355 yards and two TDs against FCS Colgate. Let’s see what happens this weekend when they play rising Louisville, who dumped Charlotte, a second-year FBS team, 70-14. We will see what happens…Best SEC losses: Wisconsin 16-14 over LSU; South Alabama 21-20 over Mississippi State; West Virginia 26-11 over Mizzou; Southern Miss 44-35 over Kentucky (Mike Stoops is a goner), and Florida State over Ole Miss, 45-34. We still have the Rebels in our Final Four winning the SEC which may not mean much this year…Enjoy Collegefootballfan.com week 2. We will also see Montclair State and FDU Florham open their seasons in a D-3 game this Friday night.

Game # 510: Navy at full speed ahead overwhelms Fordham, 52-16; starting QB Tago Smith injured

Game # 510:  Navy at full speed ahead overwhelms Fordham, 52-16; starting QB Tago Smith injured

Talk about the 12th man! One of these Mids in white would be wearing pads before this game was over.

Talk about the 12th man! One of these Mids in white would be wearing pads before this game was over.

Annapolis – Despite the graduation of 10 starters on offense including Heisman candidate Keenan Reynolds, the U.S. Naval Academy recovered a Fordham fumble on the opening kickoff and dominated the FCS playoff team of the last two seasons for a 52-16 victory before 28,238 opening day fans.  However, on the short end, starting QB Tago Smith, a senior who waited patiently as Reynold’s sub the last two seasons, left the game in the second period with leg injury.  No update has been released yet as of Monday on his status.  During his short stint on the field, he ran 10 times from the triple option for 109 yards scoring two touchdowns from six and eleven yards.  He completed all three of his pass attempts for 78 yards.  Defensively, Senior LB and co-captain Dan Gonzales led all Navy tacklers with ten stops.

Navy starting QB Tago Smith scores early from the six-yard line.

Navy starting QB Tago Smith (2) scores early from the six-yard line.

Overall, the Mids’ offense totaled 550 yards with 427 on the ground.  The running game was bolstered by 224-lb. FB Chris High who amassed 176 yards and two TDs on ten carries.  A 30-yard Fordham FG by Makay Redd was followed by Smith’s second TD of the first period.  On the Rams’ next possession, Fordham QB Kevin Anderson (26 of 45, 302 yards, 1 TD) connected with 6′-8″ TE Pahzahn Odom for a 34-yard scoring pass.  Navy led at the end of the first, 21-10.

USNA LB Brandon Jones (3) got pressure on Anderson before he released this pass.

USNA LB Brandon Jones (3) got pressure on Ram QB Kevin Anderson before he released this pass.

Smith left the game after a long gain on the next series. Will Worth subbed for him and finished this drive with an eight-yard TD run.  He would complete his day with nine rushes for 28 yards and a TD along with one pass completion on his only attempt for a 45-yard TD pass to SB Toneo Gulley.  Navy’s defense next forced FU to punt from the one and Navy started its drive at the Ram 22.  High punctuated the short drive with a five-yard TD run up the middle.  Navy stopped Fordham’s star RB Chase Edmonds (18 carries for 83 yards) at the line of scrimmage on the last Ram possession before the heading into the locker room with a 35-10 lead.  Despite one of the lowest rushing totals of his three-year career, Edmonds showed what a tough runner he is against Navy.  He runs hard and is tough to bring down. He bounces off people and more than one tackler always has to take him down.  He earned many of these yards on his own.  We’ll watch for him to play on Sundays for somebody in the future.

Fordham All-American RB Chase Edmonds worked hard for his 83 yards today.

Fordham All-American RB Chase Edmonds, to the right of QB Kevin Anderson,  worked hard for his 83 yards today.

 

We tailgated this day with Navy stalwarts Al and Mickey, good friends of Brian Donnelly who was here after the night before at Army-Temple, but with his girlfriend, Laurie, this time.  They planned a short vacation after the game down in Ocean City, Maryland.  I brought along first-time Guest Game Analyst George Lazarides (Catonsville CC and Johns Hopkins).  A colleague from work and a Maryland native now living in central Jersey, this was George’s first game at Annapolis.  He expects to attend games here regularly in the future as his niece has been accepted at USNA next year and was recruited by the Women’s La Crosse team.  After his experience this weekend going to the game and tailgating with us, he will definitely be back.  We noted the parking configuration for season ticket holders is a bit tighter this year.  It’s due to the success of the Navy football program.  Because of the program’s success, there are more Admiral Row members – contributors to the Naval Academy Athletic Association – who get a reserved parking space.  They take up more spaces.  Go Navy! But don’t take away our spaces in the parking lot.

The Naval academy Drum and Bugle Corps performs at halftime.

The Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps performs at halftime.

Fordham scored first in the second half with Redd’s 23-yard FG, but on Navy’s next play from scrimmage, High rambled 70 yards for his second touchdown and a 42-13 lead.  Navy stopped a desperate Fordham offense again on downs on its next series at the Navy 39.  That’s when Worth eventually connected with Gulley down the left sideline for a 49-13 lead.

Navy FB Chris High (33) gains some of his 176 yards on this run.

Navy FB Chris High (33) gains some of his 176 yards on this run.

 

In the fourth, Bennett Moehring put up a 23-yard FG for Navy and Redd converted his third for a 31-yarder to close out the games score at 52-16.  The big story during this part of the blow-out belongs to Midshipman Fourth Class (Freshman) Malcolm Perry.  The 5-9, 185-lb QB marched on the field before the game, but was summoned from the stands to go down to the locker room during the game to suit up when Tago Smith left the game with his injury.  He came into the game during the final period and ran the option adeptly carrying seven times for 30 yards.  He’s supposedly the first Midshipman in USNA history to march on to the field before a game and end up marching with the team down the field!

Based on seven TDs, seven PATs, and one FG totaling 52 points, most plebes performed 248 push-ups at last Saturday's game. Malcolm Perry only did 42 before being called in to run Navy's triple option later in the game.

Based on seven TDs, seven PATs, and one FG totaling 52 points, most plebes performed 248 push-ups at last Saturday’s game. Malcolm Perry only did 42! He got called in to run Navy’s triple option later in the game.

Next week, we return to Annapolis and meet up with Brian and Al among others to tailgate and watch Navy play UCONN (1-0), winners over the Maine Black Bears last Thursday, 24-21, in an American Athletic Conference game. The question is will Worth still be at QB for the Mids, or can Tago Smith return?  The night before that one, Collegefootballfan.com will attend a D-3 game near home.  We will see Montclair State (12-0-1 in our annals) visit FDU-Florham, a perennially struggling D-3 program, in Florham Park on the FDU campus.  Fordham returns to The Bronx to host Elizabeth City State (0-1 loser to Norfolk State, 20-12).