Navy 38, W. Kentucky 22
Quarterback Ricky Dobbs ran for four touchdowns, passed for another and ran for 143 yards as Navy rushed for a season-high 373 yards and topped the Hilltoppers, 38-22, on the 50th anniversary of the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"Ricky Dobbs did some great things. That's the nature of being the quarterback: when the team plays well you get all the credit, when the team plays bad you also get all of the credit for that," Niumatalolo said.
The Midshipmen (2-2) entered with an average of only about 200 yards rushing per game, and had missed two chances to take down BCS-conference opponents in close losses at Ohio State and Pittsburgh.
In honor of the first game at the stadium on Sept. 26, 1959, the Midshipmen (2-2) wore throwback uniforms dating to 1959.
Dobbs carried the ball 29 times and completed 4 of 5 passes for 100 yards. He tied his career high for rushing TDs and teamed with Cory Finnerty on a 29-yard scoring pass that put the Mids ahead for good with 2:26 left in the first half.
Navy's entire offense gained 473 yards, the most since last year's opener, and picked up 26 first downs.
"I felt real good out there today," said Dobbs, who has now accounted 12 of Navy's 15 touchdowns this season. "The coaches emphasized all week that we needed to get (the offense) going. I felt a lot more relaxed. I let things come to me."
Marcus Curry added 70 yards rushing, as nine Navy backs carried the ball. Bobby Doyle had 33 yards rushing and 71 yards receiving for Navy, and had gains of 24 yards and 47 passes to help set up touchdowns.
"His title of Big Play Bobby Doyle continues," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "He doesn't get it often, but when he touches the ball good things happen."
A bowl-eligible FBS team for the first time this season, the Hilltoppers (0-4) lost their 12th straight game and started the season with four losses for the first time since 1984, when they began 0-6.
"Our guys played their hearts out on defense, but there is a reason they run it and there is a reason why they have led the country in rushing the last four years," WKU coach Dave Elson said. "They got it going today and that's what can happen when they get it going."
Redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes started at quarterback for Western Kentucky in place of injured senior Brandon Smith. Jakes had replaced Smith last week in a loss to Central Arkansas.
Jakes completed his first 10 passes, including six in a row on the Hilltoppers' first touchdown drive. He was 22 of 28 for 278 yards, hitting 10 different receivers.
"I felt good coming out, but throughout the game things started to go against us," said Jakes, who threw scoring passes of 13 yards to Bobby Rainey and 18 yards to Derrius Brooks. Jakes also scored on a 1-yard run.
Jakes was intercepted twice, one setting up a Navy score, and fumbled the snap at the Navy 1-yard line on the Hilltoppers' first series of the game, costing his team seven points and some early momentum.
"We were on the one-yard line. We should have put seven points on the board," Jakes said. "That's on the quarterback-center exchange. You can't blame anybody but us on that one."
After the fumble was recovered by Shane Bothel, Navy drove the ball 85 yards from the 1 and into field goal range, where Jon Teague's 31-yard field goal gave them a 10-0 lead. Navy's first score came on a 29-yard run by Dobbs.
Western Kentucky took the lead at 14-10 as Jakes passed for one touchdown to Rainey and ran for another from the 1 after a Navy turnover on a fumble near midfield.
Dobbs' 29-yard pass to Finnerty put Navy back up, 17-14, just before the half.