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C.I.C. MVP: Taylor Robinson key in Navy’s win over UCF

Robinson’s fumble recovery set up Navy’s game-winning touchdown, and his interception sealed the win.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 UCF at Navy Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s the fourth season of college football for Against All Enemies. As we’ve done in previous seasons, we’ll hand out an award each week, highlighting the best Service Academy player from the previous weekend’s games. We call this: The C.I.C. MVP.

Navy picked up its first win of the season this past Saturday, getting an unlikely — but much needed — victory over UCF in Annapolis.

For the Midshipmen, bandit Taylor Robinson was a crucial part of why they were able to top the Knights; the only AAC team Navy hadn’t yet beaten since joining the conference.

Robinson had two tackles in the game, but it was really his playmaking abilities and nose for the ball that helped secure the triumph for Navy.

After Diego Fagot stripped the ball away from UCF’s Brandon Johnson in the fourth quarter, the fumble was scooped up by Robinson. That gave possession back to Tai Lavatai and the Navy offense, which put together an 11-play, 53-yard drive that ate up 5:19 of clock, which ended with Isaac Ruoss scoring the go-ahead touchdown for Navy.

However, with a bit more than three minutes remaining in the game, UCF had a chance to strike back. The Knights pieced together a 10-play, 53-yard drive to put them in the red-zone. On 4th-and-15 from the Navy 17, UCF’s Mikey Keene dropped back, scrambled and fired a pass into the end-zone.

But a Knight didn’t come down with the ball. Robinson did. And that sealed the game for Navy.

For his incredible defensive efforts in Navy’s first win of the season, Robinson was named AAC Defensive Player of the Week. And, from this here blog, he is also the C.I.C. MVP of the Week for Week Five of the 2021 college football season.

“We didn’t give up big plays. We were going to make them go the long, hard way and earn it,” head coach Ken Niumatalolo said after the game. “(Defensive coordinator Brian Newberry) is a master of mucking things up and disguising. It was a combination of the scheme created by Coach Newberry and that our defensive guys played their butts off.”

The fumble recovery and interception were the first of Robinson’s career as a Midshipman. A 6-foot native of Weldon Springs, Missouri, the junior didn’t see varsity action for the Mids in 2019 or 2020, but put on about 13 pounds in the offseason and entered fall camp as second on the depth chart at bandit — a bit of a hybrid position that’s kind of like a safety and kind of like a defensive end.

Position semantics aside, Robinson has shined on Navy’s defense this season, piling up 11 tackles. He had seven stops — including one behind the line of scrimmage — against Air Force.

Robinson was a big reason why Navy won Saturday, and will likely be a key cog in Newberry’s defense going forward.