It all starts somewhere, and for Navy, it started Friday night in Tulsa.
Navy would go on to score 17 unanswered points in the second half and continue their unbeaten record at Tulsa with a 20-17 win over the Golden Hurricane.
The first half was a punter’s dream. Navy’s Riley Riethman would boot the ball five times and Tulsa would punt it four, as the teams went into halftime with a 3-3 score.
Out of the half, Tulsa made a huge statement. Anthony Watkins would return the opening kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown, picking up his second big play of the game and giving Tulsa a 10-3 lead.
After that, it was all Midshipmen. Chance Warren and Tai Lavatai would run the ball all over the field on the ensuing drive leading to a James Harris one-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, Navy would force its second turnover in Golden Hurricane scoring territory as Rayuon Lane intercepted the ball on a dive in the end zone.
The Mids would follow that with a 8:09 drive and a Lavatai QB sneak touchdown, leading the Mids to a 5-0 all-time record at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Navy’s defense showed up in Tulsa, especially on the ground. Outside of a 78-yard rush by Anthony Watkins in the second quarter, the Midshipmen gave up only 51 yards on 29 rushes.
On the offense, it was all on the ground for Navy as Tai Lavatai did not complete a single pass on the afternoon. This was the first time in 33 games for the Midshipmen that they did not complete a pass in a game.
Now all the Mids have to do is win four straight. Up next is the Irish of Notre Dame.
Navy’s defense continues to look better
The Midshipmen would have not won this game if it wasn’t for two big forced turnovers, both of which came when Tulsa was in scoring position.
In the first quarter, Johnny Hodges came from the blindside and stripped the ball out of Davis Brin’s hands keeping the Hurricane off the board early.
Towards the end of the third quarter, Rayuon Lane laid out for a huge interception in the end zone leading to seven for Navy.
This is a completely different defense from what we saw a couple weeks ago in Memphis where the Mids gave up big play after big play and a total of 215 yards through the air.
On Friday, the Mids allowed Davis Brin to only pass for 165 yards and 13 completions. On the ground, Tulsa ran for 129, a large majority of which were from an Anthony Watkins 78-yard rush.
This is the Navy defense we saw in the second half of the season, last season.
Midshipmen still have a problem limiting the big play
Outside of the two big plays by Watkins, this game was all Midshipmen.
That 78-yard rush by Watkins led to a field goal for the Golden Hurricane in the first half, and his kickoff return obviously led to a touchdown.
Take those two plays out of the game and the Midshipmen win this game by double digits.
Last weekend, Cincinnati scored 17 straight points against the Mids and won by one score.
This weekend, Navy scored 17 straight and won by one score against Tulsa.
They say that basketball is a game of runs, but it looks like the first team to go on a 17-0 run in a Navy football game will be the one to win the game.
Navy will head up to South Bend to continue its rivalry against No. 11 Notre Dame. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast on NBC.