Annapolis, Maryland (November 15) – Two triple option teams leading the nation in rushing as the second and third teams overall and drawn from common bloodlines, put up comparable rushing statistics as Navy (5-5) outgained Georgia Southern (8-3, 6-0) on the ground, 394 yards to 375. Though close in that department, the lesson Navy taught GSU came from their rushing leader, QB Keenan Reynolds, who not only garnered 277 yards on the ground but carried it into the end zones six times as Navy trounced the Eagles, 52-19. For Collegefootballfan.com, we added the Eagles as our 128th FBS team overall and the final team seen this season of the four latest additions. We continue to lead the nation in FBS teams watched in person, as that is all there are as of 2014. We will add newcomer Charlotte as our 129th next season.
The first quarter ended 7-7 as Georgia Southern drove 75 yards on the first series of the game with RB L.A.Rambsy scoring from the one before Reynolds countered also with a one-yard TD run to cap a 62-yard drive for Navy. It looked like it was going to be the seesaw triple option face –off we expected similar to GSU’s previous encounter early this season with Georgia Tech to whom they lost, 41-38. Tech also runs the triple option and leads the nation in rushing under former GSU and Navy HC Paul Johnson. Neither team scored again though until the second period as Reynolds (5 or 8 passing, 71 yards, one TD) threw a 14-yard pass to WR Jamir Tillman in the end zone for a 14-7 lead. A GSU fumble recovered by FS Parrish Gaines at the Navy 40 set up a 35-yard FG by Austin Grebe, who’s improved USNA’s kicking game with his accuracy and distance, to give Navy a 17-7 halftime lead. Navy’s defense had held the familiar option offense in check since the first drive.
Maryland HS cheerleaders entertained the Brigade and the dwindling home crowd of 33,894 sitting in cold weather during halftime at Senior Day honoring Mid players and others at their final home performance at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps finished with tradition playing “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Marine Corps Hymn” before exiting.
The second half started off all Navy as the Mids scored on consecutive possessions on long drives culminating with Reynolds’ 22-yard TD run on an option keeper to the left and on a one-yard plunge behind his fullback after a 33-yard completion to Desmond Brown at the one. With Navy taking a commanding lead, GSU’s leading rusher, Matt Breida (17 carries, 211 yards) ran 36 yards to put a punctuation mark on a 73-yard drive to close the widening gap, 31-13, before the final period.
Early in the fourth quarter, Navy’s CB Quincy Adams’ interception put Navy at GSU’s 47. Reynolds proceeded to run around the right side for a 27-yard scoring run. Georgia Southern’s next possession got turned around by Navy MLB Daniel Gonzales who picked off Favian Upshaw’s pass and rumbled 68 yards to the Eagle 21. Two plays later, Reynolds carried it over from the 16 for a 45-13 Navy lead. With the 57th rushing TD of his Navy career, Reynolds tied Florida’s Tim Tebow and San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk for 10th on the all-time NCAA scoring list for rushing touchdowns. Breida built up his numbers on the very next play from scrimmage racing 88 yards down the right sideline for his second score of the evening. The two-point conversion failed and Navy led, 45-19. GSU’s HC Willie Fritz called for an on sides kick, but Navy recovered at GSU’s 39. From there, Reynolds ran the distance to the end zone to finish the day’s scoring and surpassed Tony Dorsett along with the others aforementioned with 58. He now trails only two QBs, Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada who is second with 59 scores. Reynolds, a junior, has two more regular season games coming up – at South Alabama on November 28 and in Baltimore versus Army on December 13. We will be there! One more win gets Navy into the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Decembers 23 against a Mountain West team, and Reynolds can try to catch up with the leaders as he has another entire season ahead of him. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball is the all-time record holder with 77 TDs. GSU, who suffered their biggest defeat among their three to Navy (they fell to NC State, 24-23, to start the season) return home to face UL-Monroe (3-7, 2-4) for at least a share of the Sunbelt championship with UL-Lafayette. Collegefootballfan.com will attend the historic 150th game of the longest played college football rivalry when Lehigh (3-7, 2-3) plays Lafayette (4-6, 2-3) at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.
Extra points: When we saw Navy defeat Delaware, 51-7, last season, it was the second highest scoring total in Navy football history. This was surpassed in the win over Georgia Southern. Still at the top is Navy’s 55-7 win over UConn that I attended back in 1974. So as of yesterday, CFF.com has attended Navy’s three highest scoring games in their football history.
Guest Game Analyst Frank Lorito had a great time with some nearby fans who are Navy season ticket holders, but whose daughter with them is a Georgia Southern grad. Loud and proud at first, she started shaking her head and laughing in amazement at how bad Navy was beating her Eagles. Welcome to the FBS, but it is amazing how easily Navy dominated the Eagles once the game got going. Two close losses to power Five conference teams this season and a win over the Florida Gators last year were not indicative of this game’s eventual outcome.
Our season ticket holder neighbor, Aaron, whose son Eric will gradaute from Annapolis this spring, brought two friends with him to today’s game. In a conversation with one, his name was John Kaylor. His father is a long time professor at the Alma Mater, Juniata College, where we just were a week ago. John, a graduate of William & Mary also, is fraternity brother with my former high school classmate and teammate at Boonton (NJ) High School, Dave O’Neal, who played football for The Tribe. John is also a frat brother with former Tribe player and business acquaintance, Eric Bahner. The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller. Aaron and his wife Chris, also have a daughter at South Carolina as do St. Laurie and me. Matter of fact, the Gamecocks became Bowl eligible yesterday with their sixth win when they beat Florida. Just goes to show that there are too many bowl games.
GGA Frank Lorito and I prepped for the game by going downtown first for some Bloody Marys at Fran O’Brien’s Anthony House on Main Street. From there, we walked up Main Street to Chuck and Ruth’s Diner for lunch where we conversed with some local visitors sitting next to us in the busy place. From there, headed over to Navy-Marine Corps to enjoy what we brought in our cooler before heading to our seats to watch the march-on. After a few in the parking lot after the game while traffic cleared, we headed back downtown for dinner at the Federal House and caught up on some other games. Great crab soup and Rockfish! We finished up at the Annapolis Cigar Factory around the corner to puff on our cigars while watching the second half of the Florida State-Miami game. Annapolis is a great town. We love going there. We will be planning some trips back next season when navy will be a member of the American Athletic Conference. Hopefully, we can see Keenan Reynolds set a new few new records as well.