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