Annapolis, Md. (AP) As teams focus on shutting down Navy’s dynamic quarterback Keenan Reynolds, other players – such as fullback Chris Swain – are ready to show they can be just as dangerous.
Swain rumbled for a career-high 126 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown, all in the first half and Navy cruised over Colgate 48-10 in the opener for both teams Saturday.
It was an overall solid performance by the Midshipmen in preparation for their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference that begins Sept. 19 against East Carolina. Navy’s ground attack finished with 371 yards on 47 carries against the Raiders, whose biggest strength is supposed to be their front seven.
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”We pretty much know people are going to try and take away (Reynolds),” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ”If that’s going to be your plan, we’ll live with it. I think that’s only going to help Keenan and our whole offense. You just can’t key on Keenan.”
Reynolds entered the game needing 14 rushing touchdowns and 20 total TDs to break the FBS career marks established by former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball. He chipped away at those records by running for a second-quarter score.
”The goal is to get better,” Reynolds said. ”It’s a one-game season for us each week. We have two weeks before the next season finale in my opinion. We’re going to approach it that way.”
Colgate’s Jake Melville, who is also a dual-threat, completed 14 of 26 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. He ran for another 29 yards on 11 carries.
After the teams traded field goals early in the first quarter, Navy simply overwhelmed its FCS opponent on both sides of the ball.
Swain, 6-foot-1, 245-pound senior, made up for an earlier fumble with a 52-yard touchdown run with 2:30 left in the opening quarter. Another 46-yard scamper by DeBrandon Sanders set up Navy’s second touchdown – a 1-yard sneak by Reynolds for a 17-3 lead with 11:53 remaining in the half.
”I was really nervous at first,” Swain said. ”I really just calmed down. I was talking to Keenan and coach and they calmed me down. After that, I got better and better.”
Colgate also struggled against Navy’s defense, which has three first-time starters at linebacker. The Midshipmen offense didn’t have any problems as fullbacks Shawn White and Quentin Ezell barreled for scores of 6 and 18 yards, respectively, increasing the margin to 31-3 at the break. Navy’s three fullbacks ran for 153 yards on 14 carries in the opening half.
The Raiders managed to get into Navy territory midway through the third quarter. However, Navy’s Kevin McCoy forced a fumble that was recovered by nose guard Pat Forrestal. Ezell made Colgate pay with another 12-yard touchdown.
Colgate finally got on the board with a 24-yard touchdown from Melville to John Quazza with 10:22 left in the game. McCoy then returned a fumble 54 yards for a 45-10 lead. It was Navy’s first fumble recovery for a touchdown since 2010.
”We knew they were going to be tough, particularly on offense and we knew what they were going to bring to the table,” Colgate coach Dan Hunt said. ”I thought we did a pretty good job of containing the quarterback, but some of that might have been that their fullbacks were doing so well.”
Nick Sloan added a 38-yard field goal to round out the scoring.