No one was expecting a battle of powerhouses this afternoon, but this game was still a big deal for the Navy Seniors, who were recognized with their families before their last home game appearance.
The bout did not start off very strong for the Mids, who began their first possession with a delay of game. That was followed by a three-and-out and a kick-catch interference call. Tulsa very easily moved the ball downfield to take the lead 7-0.
On top of the terrible offensive start there were some injury scares amongst Navy’s biggest playmakers, on offense and defense, when both Malcolm Perry and Sean Williams were escorted off the field by trainers. Thankfully they both returned.
On Navy’s ensuing possession, the Mids looked good as they drove down the field and had their drive capped off by a Nelson Smith touchdown to tie the game up at seven a piece.
The Navy defense came out and played inspired football, holding Tulsa to a quick three-and-out after a big tackle for loss by Navy Defensive End Josh Webb. The offense took advantage and quickly put up another Nelson Smith touchdown to put Navy up 13-9. During the PAT Tulsa blocked the kick and was able to return it for two points.
During the next kickoff, the Tulsa return man made a mistake, resulting in the Golden Hurricane being backed up against their own end zone. The Navy defense was clearly sill fired up, because the Mids nearly forced an interception and were inches away from a safety as well. In any event, it was another three-and-out for Tulsa.
Zach Abey and the offense took advantage of the good field positions and converted it into a 6-play 31-yard touchdown drive capped off by Abey to put the Mids up 20-9. Tulsa answered right back with a 19-yd touchdown run for Keylon Stokes making it 20-16 Navy.
Navy’s offense looked as good as it has all season by responding with a textbook 12-play 70-yard drive that took nearly 6 minutes off the clock. There were six different ball carriers on this drive alone and it ended, of course, with another Abey touchdown to put Navy up 27-16.
Tulsa came out of half time swinging. a String of solid runs and tough passes over 18 total plays, including a conversion on 4th and 12; The Golden Hurricane was clearly not interested in letting the Navy Offense back on the field. Just as Tulsa looked like they were about to make this a one score affair, Corey Taylor II fumbled on the goal line and Navy Defensive End Marcus Edwards scooped up Navy’s 22nd turnover of the season. That leads the American Athletic Conference.
Following the fumble recovery on a 3rd and 9, backed up against their own end zone, Abey made a beautiful late pitch to Perry who ripped off a 52 yard run. The Mids stalled in the red zone but they were able to go up by two touchdowns following a Bennett Moehring 21-yard field goal; making it 30-16 Navy.
Tulsa got the ball back and looked to be on track to a scoring drive when Michah Farrar picked off a Seth Boomer pass and returned it nearly 60 yards. Navy was unable to take advantage of the second turnover, after suffering their own turnover when Mike Martin fumbled on a bad exchange. Tulsa was able to convert that into a touchdown while going for it on 4th and less than a yard, making it an eight point game. Jarvis Polu got his hand on the PAT preventing it from going through the uprights.
Navy’s next drive was meant to grind the clock down; and they successfully took 4 minutes off over 9 plays and 74 yards. An Abey pitch sprang Tre Walker for a 33-yard touchdown run to extend the lead for Navy to 37-22.
The next Tulsa drive was interesting to say the least. On 3rd and 17 Boomer threw up the most wounded of ducks while he was being tackled by two Navy defenders, and the pass found Jarion Anderson 37 yards down the field on the Navy 4 yard line. Tulsa would score two plays later to make the score 37-29.
For whatever reason, Tulsa elected to kickoff to the Mids rather than attempt an onside kick. That decision would prove to be the final nail in the Hurricane’s coffin as Navy would put up a string of first downs; enough to run out the remainder of the clock.
Navy finished the game with the W, the 16th consecutive year in which Navy has won their Senior Day matchup. The Mids also stopped their longest losing streak since 2003.
Navy is now 3-8; their next matchup is at Tulane on Saturday 24 November.