Week One is in the books for Service Academy football and it was a positive showing all around as Army, Navy and Air Force each walked away with victories.
Let’s take a look at the best players from each match-up and hand out some Commander-In-Chief MVP awards.
Army vs. Rice
In a game that was closer than most were expecting — and absolutely nerve-wracking at times for Army fans — the Black Knights snuck one out to keep their home winning streak alive. The Clemson Tigers are the only team in the country with more consecutive wins at home than Army, who have now won 14 straight games at Michie Stadium, with the streak beginning in 2016.
Kelvin Hopkins arguably had the biggest day for the Black Knights with 80 rushing yards on 21 carries and 1 touchdown, and another 53 yards and 1 touchdown through the air while going 3-for-8.
That’s not enough, however, for C.I.C. MVP honors this week. Those accolades go to defensive back Jaylon McClinton, who played lock down defense on the outside all night long. But it was McClinton’s fourth quarter heroics that earn him these honors, when he made light work of a fourth down pass attempt from Rice’s Wiley Green, forcing a turnover on downs, allowing Army to run out the rest of the clock.
McClinton and the Army defense will need to have a repeat performance next week in The Big House for the Black Knights to have a shot at keeping pace with Michigan.
Air Force vs. Colgate
The Falcons kicked off their season in impressive fashion with an easy victory over FCS opponent Colgate. The Falcons had 17 different players carry the rock; four of which eclipsed 50 yards each, and another four hit pay-dirt. The defense held the Raiders to 161 total yards of offense and forced two turnovers, including an interception by Milton Bugg III on Colgate’s third play from scrimmage.
The C.I.C. MVP this week for the Falcons goes to Donald Hammond III who took five carries for 26 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most impressive is the fact that Hammond collected those stats in one quarter of play, at which point both he and Kadin Remsberg were done for the day because the Falcons were up 35-0 and the Raiders did not appear capable of putting up much of a fight, so the backups got some reps.
The Falcons have a week off before they head to Folsom Field in Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.
Navy vs. Holy Cross
Navy fans were holding their breath for this one. On the surface, a match-up with an FCS opponent is an ideal dress rehearsal to prep for conference play, demonstrate some of your latest hardware, and try out some new ideas in a relatively safe game time environment. The Mids were able to accomplish all of that and more.
The defense was probably the biggest question mark and they showed up in a big way on Saturday. The collective defensive effort should be mentioned for MVP honors this week, as they were able to hold the Crusaders to just one touchdown despite offensive and special team mistakes that should have been converted to points. The defense had seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and one forced turnover. The new defensive staff delivered on its promise to be more aggressive and successfully kept the visitors off balance from their first possession.
There were lots to be excited about on the offensive side of the ball as well, most notably Malcolm Perry’s efforts through the air and his decision making on the outside when pitching to the slots. But this weekend’s Navy MVP goes to the battering ram in the backfield Nelson Smith who turned 15 carries into 96 yards and three touchdowns, including a 49-yard burst. On a day where the slots combined for more yards, the fullback put on the best show en route to a convincing win for Navy.
The Mids have two weeks to work out any kinks between now and the Pirates of East Carolina making the trip to Annapolis.