The Navy Midshipmen hosted a talented FCS opponent, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, in Week 3. Entering the game, both teams held a record of 1-1. Navy was coming off a big home win against conference rival, Memphis. The Mountain Hawks lost their previous game at home to Villanova. So one could say the Midshipmen had the momentum heading into the game. From start to finish, Navy was in complete control of the game that resulted in a final score of 51-21.
Navy received the first half kickoff with the goal of getting off to an early start. With Malcolm Perry under center, the Midshipman drove right down the field for an easy score. Perry scored on this first possession on a five yard run to bring the Midshipmen up 7-0. The Navy offense continued to move the ball against Lehigh with no issues. The team totaled 648 yards on offense, 145 passing and 484 rushing.
Perry, the junior quarterback, finished the the game with a team high 19 carries for 223 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. However, two other quarterbacks were used at relevant points during the game. On the first drive of the game, Coach Ken Niumatalolo found his offense in a third and short situation. Instead of leaving the, smaller but much quicker quarterback, Perry on the field, he put Zach Abey in at quarterback. Indeed, Abey made the yard of gain, contributing to the continuation of Navy’s drive. We have seen this often, where Abey is put in for shorter distance situations since Abey has the experience at quarterback and is much more difficult to tackle. Abey started at quarterback nearly all of last year and is currently being used at wide receiver and quarterback.
Another situation where we saw a different quarterback played in a legitimate situation was at the end of the first half. The Midshipmen got the ball back from Lehigh with 20 seconds left to go in the half and the ball on the Lehigh 44 yard line. Coach Niumatalolo put the senior, Garrett Lewis, in under center. Lewis is one of the stronger passing quarterbacks for Navy. The drive resulted in a field goal.
Defense Continues to Improve
After the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors scored 59 points against the Midshipmen in the first game of the season, the Navy defense has dominated its opposing offenses. Last week, Navy held the high-powered Memphis Tiger offense to only 21 points. This week, the Midshipmen gave up an early touchdown on Lehigh’s first play of the game. This score was on a broken run play, where the defense allowed the Lehigh running back to bounce the ball outside. The Navy safety got tangled up in the middle of the pack and was unable to get back to the runner.
Navy was without their starting safety, and defensive captain, Sean Williams. Williams was injured stopping a Memphis receiver on the last drive of the Week 2 game. So this absence could explain why, Jacob Springer, Williams’ fill in, was too eager on the opening play of the game. However, Springer quickly made up for his mistake on Lehigh’s next possession. On a pass over the middle, Springer tipped the ball up, stopped, and turned his body around to make the diving catch for an interception.
This was the first of five turnovers the Midshipmen forced. The Navy defense has only been improving since the first game of the year. If the defense can keep up this type of performance, the Midshipmen will have a strong shot at the AAC Championship.
Kicking Game Strong
Last week, Bennett Moehring became Navy’s all time leader in extra points. This week, Moehring completed all six of his extra point attempts and all three of his field goals. After missing a last second 48 yard field goal in the blistering cold of the 2018 Army-Navy game to win, Moehring has bounced back with incredible maturity and leadership. Even at the professional level, kickers will miss big field goals and let it ruin their career. Not this this young man! Moehring has been perfect on the year and has shown his team that he can be relied upon.
The Navy Midshipmen travel to Texas to take on SMU. SMU has a 0-3 record on the year, so the Midshipmen should be favored. However, as we all know, anything can happen on any given Saturday.