Navy tops Middle Tenn. 24-6 in Armed Forces Bowl
Middle Tennessee State quickly found out how difficult it would
be trying to stop Navy’s triple-option offense.
The Midshipmen ran 10 consecutive times on the game’s opening
drive, with quarterback Keenan Reynolds going 3 yards for the first
of his two touchdowns to put them ahead to stay in a 24-6 victory
Monday in the Armed Forces Bowl.
”It hurts to lose this game, but I was really proud of how we
played out there,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill said. ”It’s
hard to simulate on a scout team what Navy does.”
Especially Reynolds, who increased his NCAA record for
touchdowns rushing by a quarterback to 31 while matching Colorado
State running back Kapri Bibbs, another sophomore, for the national
lead this season.
Even though Reynolds lost two fumbles, matching his total during
the regular season, the Blue Raiders (8-5) failed to convert into
points either of the miscues. Both fumbles were recovered by
linebacker T.T. Barber, the game’s defensive MVP after Navy had
driving inside the 20.
”After the first couple drives there we kind of settled in. We
got acclimated to the speed of the game,” Stockstill said. ”After
that, I thought the defense played fast, they played
Navy (9-4), which won for only the second time in its last seven
bowl games, still piled up 366 yards rushing.
The Blue Raiders were held to a season low in points. They had
finished the regular season with a five-game winning streak,
averaging nearly 43 points a game in that stretch – since a 34-7
loss on Oct. 12 at North Texas, about 40 miles away from the TCU
campus where the bowl was played.
Logan Kilgore, the quarterback already with an MBA and a
school-record 53 TD passes, was 19-for-33 passing for 218 yards
with two interceptions in his final game for Middle Tennessee.
”I couldn’t be more proud to be the quarterback the past four
years at this university. We’ve been through a lot,” Kilgore said.
”The reason why I think this senior class is so special is because
we came in, we were at the top going to the bowl games, we had a
tough season and nobody pointed fingers. We’ve come back these last
two seasons, back-to-back eight-win seasons, and I just think that
we’re making this a habit.”
Cody Clark had field goals of 43 and 24 yards for Middle
Tennessee. The longer kick came at the end of Middle Tennessee’s
Down 10-6 at halftime, the Blue Raiders drove to the Navy 7 on
the opening drive of the second half. They went for it on fourth
down instead of trying a short field goal. But fullback Corey
Carmichael managed only a yard before getting taken down by Travis
Bridges and George Jamison, who also had an interception.
Middle Tennessee played in a bowl a year after getting snubbed
with the same 8-4 record in the regular season. That was in the Sun
Belt Conference before moving to Conference USA this season.
”Well, last season we didn’t get a bowl game. We had something
to prove,” said Barber, a sophomore. ”Having another eight-win
season this year was a great accomplishment.”
Barber forced the first fumble late in the first half, jumping
over the quarterback to pounce on the ball. The other came late in
the third quarter when the Midshipmen drove from their own 6 to the
MTSU 14 after stopping Middle Tennessee short on a
There was a scary moment in the final minute before halftime
when Middle Tennessee receiver Marcus Henry and Navy cornerback
Lonnie Richardson each crumpled after a hard tackle. Players from
both teams quickly motioned to the sideline, and trainers sprinted
to the players.
Henry and Richardson were side-by-side on the ground surrounded
by their teammates and medical personnel. They eventually sat up,
then got up and walked gingerly off the field with help.