Nov 12, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Braden Lenzy (0) toss a Navy Midshipmen defender during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Pyne leads No. 20 Notre Dame to decisive win over Navy

Drew Pyne accounted for five total touchdowns as No. 20 Notre Dame defeated Navy 35-32 in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.

Pyne completed 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown for the Fighting Irish (7-3), who have gone 6-1 since opening the season with back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Marshall.

Pyne and Notre Dame scored all 35 points in the first half and seemed to be in cruise control in the second half as Navy furiously pushed back but had its comeback bid ended after it failed to recover an onside kick with 1:21 remaining.

Daba Fofana rushed for 133 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown for Navy (3-7). The loss locked in a losing season for Navy, which will need to win out and get outside help for any hope of bowl eligibility this season.

Notre Dame’s offense clicked early. On the opening drive, Pyne connected with Audric Estime on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Pyne then connected with Braden Lenzy on a 38-yard pass that made it 14-0 with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter.

Fofana countered for Navy with a 36-yard rushing touchdown with 2:19 remaining, making it 14-6 after a missed extra point.

Notre Dame then outscored Navy 21-7 in the second quarter to seemingly take full control of the contest.

Pyne connected for passing touchdowns of Chris Tyree and Jayden Thomas, while also adding his own 11-yard rushing score. Even with a 2-yard touchdown run by Navy’s Xavier Arline, the halftime score had ballooned to 35-13.

Bijan Nichols did connect on a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter for Navy, which made it 35-16.

A change-of-pace pass led to a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter for Navy, cutting the deficit to 35-24 as Mark Walker ran uncovered down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown pass from Arline.

Arline was later injured and left the game in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback Maasai Maynor capped another Navy scoring drive with a 20-yard strike to Maquel Haywood with 1:21 remaining, setting up an onside kick that Notre Dame snuffed out to seal the win.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman talks to defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) in the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Notre Dame out to justify return to rankings vs. Navy

There were a few bumps in the road, but now first-year coach Marcus Freeman has Notre Dame rolling.

The Fighting Irish thoroughly dominated then-No. 4 Clemson last week in a 35-14 home victory. That was enough for them to appear at No. 20 in the College Football Playoff rankings this week after being absent from last week’s debut.

Notre Dame will begin the home stretch of its schedule against Navy on Saturday in Baltimore.

Notre Dame (6-3) took ugly losses to Marshall and Stanford earlier in the season, but it was more impressive and well-rounded in wins over North Carolina, BYU, Syracuse and now Clemson, each of whom has spent some time in the AP or CFP rankings this year.

Notre Dame ran down Clemson’s throats, gaining 263 yards on the ground. Logan Diggs had 114 yards on 17 carries and Audric Estime added 104 yards plus a touchdown on 18 carries. Estime leads the team with 662 rushing yards (5.7 per carry) and nine scores.

Estime and the Irish are preaching focus to avoid a letdown against a lower-caliber opponent.

“We don’t really try to look at an opponent, we just try to focus on our job and doing what we do,” Estime said. “We can’t just play down to a team, we’ve got to play to our standard. And if we play to our standard every week, I feel like we should handle business no matter who the opponent is.”

The Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium is the site of this season’s rivalry game with Navy (3-6), which alternates between Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend, Ind., and a variety of mostly neutral sites. The game was set to be played in Dublin, Ireland, for the third time in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic nixed those plans.

But Baltimore is close to the Naval Academy’s base in Annapolis, Md., and the game represents an important tradition for Navy football and one of a number of recruiting-pitch bullet points for coach Ken Niumatalolo.

“Obviously there are a lot of people that want to play Notre Dame,” Niumatalolo said. “We’re grateful for a chance to play such a historic program. We wish we would have a couple more W’s on our side of the ledger. Considering the history, it’s a really special game.”

Navy last won the annual meeting in 2016, 28-27 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Fighting Irish hold a 78-13-1 lead in the all-time series.

The Midshipmen are coming off a 20-10 road loss to Cincinnati, the two-time defending champions of the American Athletic Conference. Navy racked up 176 yards on the ground but allowed two big touchdown passes from Ben Bryant to Tyler Scott.

With Tai Lavatai injured, Xavier Arline started at quarterback for Navy and split time with Maasai Maynor. Arline gained 87 yards on 12 carries and Maynor picked up 81 yards on three completions. Arline figures to start again vs. Notre Dame.

“I thought Xavier played a really good game. I’m proud of him,” Niumatalolo said. “Thought he performed well in a hostile environment, did a lot of good things and super encouraged with his play as we make this stretch run.”

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell walks back to the bench after a UCF Knights score in the fourth quarter during a college football game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The UCF Knights defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats, 25-21.

Ncaaf Cincinnati Bearcats At Ucf Knights Oct 29 859

Unranked Cincinnati fixed on sinking Navy

Cincinnati was the first team from outside the Power 5 conferences to qualify for the College Football Playoff. Less than a year later, the Bearcats didn’t crack the Top 25 in the first edition of this season’s CFP rankings.

Cincinnati will try to shake off its first American Athletic Conference loss since 2019 when it hosts Navy on Saturday.

UCF handed the Bearcats (6-2, 3-1 AAC) a 25-21 defeat last Saturday to puncture their 19-game conference winning streak. Cincinnati grabbed a 21-18 lead with 3:04 left on Ryan Montgomery’s 39-yard scoring run and Ben Bryant’s two-point conversion pass to Tyler Scott. But UCF’s RJ Harvey scored the go-ahead touchdown run with 48 seconds on the clock.

“Disappointed of course, but it’s not something that holds you back,” coach Luke Fickell said. “That’s what I always worry about because of some of the successes that we had, is how you rebound from some of these things and how long does it sting and how long does it stay with you. What you can’t do is allow it to compound and cause you problems for continued weeks.”

The Bearcats allowed 505 total yards and 258 yards on the ground to UCF, both season highs. That might not bode well for them against Navy (3-5, 3-3), famed for its run-heavy triple-option offense.

“When quarterbacks run the ball, there’s issues always with extra hats, and hats on hats,” Fickell said. “What it really is gonna come down to is guys winning” individual assignments.

For Navy this week, that running quarterback will be backup Xavier Arline.

Starter Tai Lavatai suffered a left knee injury in last Saturday’s game against Temple. Arline took over and ran 16 times for 54 yards, including the game-winning 23-yard touchdown in overtime to help the Midshipmen beat Temple 27-20.

“We’ll tailor some stuff around (Arline) and play to his strengths and stuff that he does well,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said.

Navy pulled out a meaningful win on Senior Day. The Midshipmen won’t play in Annapolis for the rest of the year; after Cincinnati, they will host Notre Dame in Baltimore and travel to UCF before the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

Navy leads Cincinnati 3-2 in the all-time series. The Bearcats have won the past two meetings, sneaking out of Annapolis last year with a 27-20 win.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA;  Navy Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo calls timeout during the first half against the Houston Cougars at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In battle between Temple, Navy, two sides aim to snap losing slides

Temple will look to bury a three-game losing streak when it plays Navy in an American Athletic Conference matchup Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

It’s a rebuilding year for the Owls (2-5, 0-3 AAC), who are guided by first-year coach Stan Drayton and freshman quarterback E.J. Warner. Temple’s only wins to date came against FCS Lafayette and FBS independent UMass.

After UCF drilled Temple 70-13 on Oct. 13, the Owls played better last Friday in a home loss to Tulsa. Temple scored the game’s first 10 points before falling 27-16.

The Owls’ defense showed improvement, but they struggled to generate offense — just 280 total yards. Senior wide receiver Adonicas Sanders missed the second half due to injury and running back Jakari Norwood was out for personal reasons.

“Anytime there’s new guys, you have to get used to it,” Warner said. “But we’ve been putting in work in practice. We put in work all camp, all summer. So, it’s not an excuse with no chemistry or anything like that.”

Navy (2-5, 2-3) has lost two straight, including last week’s 38-20 defeat to Houston in which Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune threw for five touchdowns.

One bright spot for the Midshipmen has been fullback Daba Fofana. Playing a position important to Navy’s triple-option offense, Fofana has emerged as a go-to back over the past three games. He racked up 159 yards and three scores in a win over Tulsa, then added 61 yards against SMU and 89 yards with a touchdown against Houston. He took at least 20 carries in all three games.

“He’s still learning … he’s still a sophomore, still figuring things out,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said of Fofana. “But I think his consistency in the overall offense — running, blocking, just all of it — just feel like he’s been the most consistent. He’s a kid that just comes in, brings his lunch pail every day, works every day and you see him improving daily and weekly.”

Navy has won the past two meetings between the programs. The all-time series is knotted 8-8. In 2016, Temple won the AAC Championship in the Mids’ stadium.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA;  Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) in action during the first quarter against the Tulane Green Wave at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Riding momentum from fourth-quarter comeback, Houston faces Navy

Coming off a massive comeback in its last game, Houston will try to make it two straight road wins in conference when it faces Navy on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

Houston (3-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) trailed Memphis 26-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter of its last game Oct. 7, but thanks to Jayce Rogers’ 100-yard kick return touchdown and three passing touchdowns from Clayton Tune, the Cougars stormed back for a 33-32 road win.

Tune’s 2-yard pass to KeSean Carter with 18 seconds left was the game-winner.

Coach Dana Holgorsen had hinted before the Memphis game that Houston wanted to get more aggressive on offense, and it produced points with an up-tempo style late in that contest. But he hesitated to commit to more of that style.

“We’ve won a lot of games around here with controlling the ball, controlling the clock, keeping our defense fresh, keeping them off the field, not putting them in bad situations,” Holgorsen said Monday. “I’m not gonna stop doing that just for the sake of people wanting to see an up-tempo offense. … If we’re sputtering doing what we’re doing, then that’s an opportunity to be able to pick things up.”

Navy (2-4, 2-2) came close to a fourth-quarter rally of its own last Friday, but it wasn’t enough to stop host SMU from securing a 40-34 win.

The Midshipmen scored 20 points on three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, drawing within six points in the final nine seconds, but they couldn’t recover an onside kick. SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai burned Navy for 336 yards and three touchdowns.

Navy still gained a season-high 510 yards, including 372 on 77 rushing attempts.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved with a game like that,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We had 101 plays, we had the ball for over 40 minutes, rushed for 370, over 30 points but I feel like we should’ve had 50. It’s just tough. … 80 percent of the time we play good on defense, but we can’t give up big plays.”

Houston has won each of the last two meetings with Navy and leads the all-time series 6-2.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Navy Midshipmen quarterback Tai Lavatai (1) looks to pass in the fourth quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Navy looks to keep offense rolling vs. SMU

After Navy’s offense turned in its best outing of the season, the Midshipmen still have time to turn their season around, with the next game coming Friday in Dallas against slumping SMU.

Navy (2-3, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) destroyed Tulsa 53-21. The Midshipmen had scored 53 points all season before doubling that total in Saturday’s outburst.

Senior fullback Daba Fofana had a banner day, running for career highs of 159 yards and three touchdowns, scoring all three in the second quarter.

“It always starts with our fullback,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Obviously, too, when the fullback gets going, that also means your line’s playing well. Our offensive line did some good things and Daba and Logan (Point), they ran hard inside.”

Nathan Kent added a 70-yard rushing touchdown on a reverse, Vincent Terrell Jr. contributed 93 rushing yards and a score on 17 attempts and quarterback Tai Lavatai caught a 26-yard touchdown from Kai Puailoa-Rojas on a trick play.

Navy began the season with a home loss to FCS opponent Delaware. Winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is out of the question now, too, after losing to Air Force on Oct. 1. But the Midshipmen are still in the running in the American after picking up their second win.

Their next test is a trip to SMU (2-3, 0-1), which hasn’t played since dropping its third straight game on Oct. 5, 41-19 to UCF. The game was pushed back from Oct. 1 due to Hurricane Ian’s path through Florida.

The Mustangs led 13-10 at halftime before yielding 31 points in the second half. Veteran SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for 295 yards and an interception on 28-for-45 passing. Redshirt freshman Preston Stone took over for the final two drives and completed 5 of 9 throws for 68 yards, adding a rushing touchdown.

While SMU coach Rhett Lashlee insisted that “I believe in Preston,” he said the loss can’t be blamed on Mordecai.

“Tanner fought his tail off,” Lashlee said postgame. “We dropped a touchdown pass that he scrambles to our back. I don’t know how many other balls we dropped. … He was playing beat up and I think he gave us everything he had and I thought he played pretty well. But, it was good to get Preston in there, and every bit of experience he gets is important.”

SMU leads the AAC in total offense (500.2 yards per game) and has the third-best scoring offense in the league (34.6 points per game).

Navy leads the all-time series 13-10, but SMU has won the past two meetings and three of the last four.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) carries the ball in the second quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force puts dominant rush attack against rival Navy

Air Force’s dominant rushing attack has guided the academy to a hot start to the season. The Falcons will aim to keep that going when they host rival Navy on Saturday outside Colorado Springs, Colo.

Air Force (3-1) embarrassed Nevada by gaining 461 rushing yards on 75 attempts in a 48-20 victory last week. Fourteen different Falcons took at least one carry, but Brad Roberts did most of the damage with 20 touches for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

The Falcons completed just one pass, but it went for an 80-yard touchdown as Ben Brittain connected with David Cormier in the first quarter. Then, the run game fully settled in. The Falcons average 412.2 yards per game to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision. Second on the list is Minnesota, far lower than Air Force at 294.5 yards on the ground per game.

Now the Falcons’ minds will turn to the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Air Force leads the three-way series with 20 trophies to Navy’s 16 and Army’s nine, but it has not claimed one outright since 2016.

Air Force won 23-3 in Annapolis, Md. last year to improve to 32-22 all-time against Navy. But after Army defeated Air Force and Navy upset Army, the C.I.C. was split for the first time since 1993.

“It’s the level of respect that’s involved, again, not only for the football part of it, but beyond the football,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. “There’s some resemblances for both squads in terms of what you’ll see. Both squads want to play well up front, offensively and defensively. You want to do a good job of handling the ball. And yet there are going to be sometimes where you also want to try to have some larger-gain plays without completely sacrificing a bunch of series.”

Navy (1-2) is coming off its first win of the year, a 23-20, double-overtime victory on the road over American Athletic Conference foe East Carolina. Daniel Davies, a backup filling in for injured kicker Bijan Nichols, made critical field goals in both overtime periods.

While Navy is a run-heavy team like its fellow service academies, the Midshipmen had success through the air in beating the Pirates. Tai Lavatai completed 7 of 10 passes for 152 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Vincent Terrell Jr.

“We’re an option team and obviously we run the ball first and foremost, predominantly,” head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “But they were so aggressive, East Carolina, they were just playing so aggressive. … Obviously, Tai can throw the football and we have some good receivers, but it’s not who we are. But the way the game was going, it dictated that.”

Navy hasn’t beaten Air Force on the road since 2012. Air Force hasn’t won three straight in the series since its six-game streak from 1997 to 2002.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Greenville, North Carolina, USA;  East Carolina Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) throws the ball against the Old Dominion Monarchs before the game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Against struggling Navy, East Carolina aims to open AAC slate with a win

Quarterback Holton Ahlers and East Carolina will aim to start their conference schedule on a positive note when Navy visits Greenville, N.C., on Saturday afternoon.

East Carolina (2-1) has been humming after a heartbreaking one-point home loss to then-ranked No. 13 NC State in Week 1. The Pirates beat Old Dominion 39-21 before last week’s 49-10 romp over Campbell, an in-state opponent from the FCS.

Ahlers threw for three touchdowns last week and is already up to 800 yards and seven TDs on the season while completing 67 percent of his passes. Earlier this season, Ahlers became the American Athletic Conference’s all-time career leader in completions with 879.

The fifth-year quarterback has been a part of several East Carolina-Navy games before. The Midshipmen lead the all-time series 7-2, but ECU broke a five-game skid last year with a 38-35 win in Annapolis, Md. Ahlers racked up 405 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-32 passing, outscoring a Navy attack that gained 345 rushing yards.

“He looks like an NFL quarterback,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “You don’t realize how big he is (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) until you see him on the field. He’s bigger than our outside linebackers. He’s a big dude, smart, composed. … I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a shot on Sundays. He’s got all the tools.”

Navy (0-2, 0-1 AAC) is coming off a bye week after a 14-7 loss to FCS Delaware and a 37-13 setback to Memphis, both at home. Only one team, New Mexico State, has had a worse scoring offense in all of FBS than the Mids’ 10 points per game this season.

But like every coach in the conference, ECU’s Mike Houston has spent extra time scheming against Navy’s triple-option offense — increasingly a rarity in FBS football.

Houston said longtime assistant Roy Tesh, currently the Pirates’ defensive tackles coach, has experience coaching against the triple when they ran it at previous stops together, including The Citadel of FCS.

“I think that’s what we hang our hat on, is being a physical football team,” Houston said. “But that’s what Navy hangs their hat on too. … Ken very much believes in a lot of the same things I believe in as far as how you win consistently.”

–Field Level Media

Delaware's Drew Nickles (51) and Artis Hemmingway (right) pressure Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai in the third quarter of the Blue Hens' 14-7 win at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

Ncaa Football Wil Hens Navy Gamer Delaware At Navy

Demoralized in opener, Navy meets Memphis in AAC kickoff

Navy’s season got off to the most discouraging start possible: a lost fumble on the first play from scrimmage and a home defeat at the hands of Delaware, an FCS team.

The Midshipmen try to turn things around in a hurry when they host Memphis in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

Navy (0-1, 0-0 AAC) outperformed Delaware in several categories. The Blue Hens were held to 202 yards total offense and outgained by Navy 184-13 in rushing yards. But the Midshipmen couldn’t translate those advantages into points, lost three fumbles and went 0-for-3 on fourth downs in the 14-7 defeat.

Quarterback Tai Lavatai accounted for two of the lost fumbles, putting the ball on the ground three times in all. Lavatai went 5-for-13 for 135 yards and gained only 34 yards on 18 carries, running in Navy’s only touchdown.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t have those mesh fumbles anymore,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said, mentioning Lavatai by name. “It’s hard enough to take care of the rock but when you have those self-inflicted type of turnovers, I mean, those were all mesh fumbles.”

Memphis (0-1, 0-0 AAC) opened its season at Mississippi State and fell behind 28-3 at halftime on its way to a 49-23 loss. Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers torched the Tigers for 450 passing yards and five touchdowns.

The Tigers’ defense now must do a 180 from coping with Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense to defending a service academy triple option.

“I told our guys, ‘Hey, that’s in the rearview. Flush it, let’s go.’ … because it is a completely different scheme,” Silverfield said. “To really narrow in and hone in on a different offensive attack, it will be good for our defense. A different challenge, for sure.”

Seth Henigan guided the Memphis offense with 19-of-30 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State.

Memphis holds a 4-3 edge in the all-time series against Navy, including victories in each of the past three seasons. In last year’s 35-17 win, Henigan threw for 215 yards on just 8-of-12 passing thanks in part to a 74-yard touchdown play.

–Field Level Media

Dec 11, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Navy Midshipmen fullback Isaac Ruoss (32) carries the ball against the Army Black Knights during the second half of the 122nd Army-Navy game. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army-Navy game to be played in five different cities

The prestigious Army-Navy game will be played in five different East Coast locations from 2023-27, the two military academies announced Wednesday.

The 2023 game will be played in Foxborough, Mass., and the 2024 contest will be held in Landover, Md. Baltimore will be the site in 2025, followed by East Rutherford, N.J., in 2026 and Philadelphia in 2027.

“Our destinations over the next five years provide the Academies with an opportunity to share the economic impact, history and tradition of Army-Navy with a number of communities in diverse geographic areas,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a news release. “We are certain that each location will present a uniquely accommodating experience for our fans and will make for an incredibly memorable event for our midshipmen and cadets. Our gratitude goes out to all the cities that showed interest and congratulations to the recipients of the games.”

Army athletic director Mike Buddie issued similar comments about the five games, which will be televised by CBS.

“The Army-Navy game is a great showcase for both service academies,” Buddie said in a news release. “We are looking forward to the pageantry and tradition to be on display for the fans in these cities while providing an opportunity to support the Cadets and Midshipmen. We had great interest from many regions and thank the cities who participated in the bid selection process. We cannot wait to have this game played at some incredible venues in great cities.”

The Army-Navy game has never previously been held in the Boston area and it will mark just the second contest in the Washington D.C. area. The first was in 2011 when Navy prevailed 27-21.

Baltimore will be host of the game for the seventh time and the Meadowlands in New Jersey will be the site for the sixth time.

Philadelphia is hosting this season’s game. It will be its 90th time as host and the game will be played on Dec. 10. No. 91 will come at the end of the rotation in 2027.

Navy leads the series 62-53-7. Navy won last season’s game 17-13 at East Rutherford, N.J.

–Field Level Media