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Photo Gallery: Navy fights hard, but falls to No. 2 Cincinnati

The Mids had the ball with 48 seconds left, but came up short. Still, they played the undefeated Bearcats closer than anyone else this season.

Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai surveys the Cincinnati defense on Oct. 23, 2021 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Mitchell Northam, Against All Enemies

ANNAPOLIS, MD — The Navy Midshipmen never gave up Saturday. They made mistakes, sure, but they fought too.

And with 48 seconds left — after the Mids recovered Daniel Davies’ onside kick — what seemed impossible on-paper was within real reach: Navy trailed the No. 2 team in the country by just seven points.

Unfortunately, the Midshipmen couldn’t capitalize on the extra possession. After a sack and a spike, Navy faced a third-and-10 with 25 seconds left, and Tai Lavatai’s was pass intercepted by Arquon Bush. The play slammed the door shut on any potential upset by the Mids.

And so, No. 2 Cincinnati stayed unbeaten, winning 27-20 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Mids fell to 1-6 on the season.

Despite the loss for Navy, the fans in the stands on Saturday got to see some exciting football. There were touchdowns and turnovers, blocked kicks and onside attempts. There was trickery and there was grit.

And Navy played some of its best football of the season, despite the result on the scoreboard. The Mids outgained the Bearcats in total yardage, 308-271, and held Cincy under 100 rushing yards. Navy played Cincinnati closer than any other team this year — a group that includes Indiana and Notre Dame. And aside from the late interception, Lavatai was sharp in the passing game, completing 11-of-13 passes for 116 yards before the final drive.

In the end, Navy’s efforts weren’t enough. The players and coaches won’t be satisfied.

However, Saturday was clear sign that this team is working and improving.

The toughest stretch of Navy’s schedule is over. Remaining are games against Tulsa, Notre Dame, East Carolina, Temple and Army. Based on Saturday’s performance, the majority of those contests seem winnable for Ken Niumatalolo and squad.

Below is a collection of photos from Navy’s Oct. 23, 2021 game at home against Cincinnati, taken by Mitchell Northam for Against All Enemies and SB Nation.