Army will surely continue its triple-option offense next season, though if the Black Knights last two games are any indication passing will be an option that will be exercised a lot more.
Due to injuries to quarterbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and A.J. Schurr, freshman Chris Carter was called upon to start, at both the Navy game and the one that preceded it. He threw for 140 yards and one touchdown against Rutgers; against Navy, 208 yards and one touchdown.
Schurr is a senior, but Bradshaw will be a junior next season, so the decision as to which quarterback will start is surely a work in progress. But back to that passing. Playing in six games, Schurr threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns; Bradshaw, in eight games, 349 yards passing and five touchdowns.
Carter and wide receiver Edgar Poe have become fast friends. In their two games together, Poe made seven catches for 273 yards – including 121 against Navy – and two touchdowns.
“As much as Edgar Poe has done in terms of making some really great catches this year, I thought we needed to give him a chance to try and help us win the football game and give him opportunities to catch the ball,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said. “We’ve had this conversation before, too. When we throw for more yards than we run it, it’s usually not a great day. We’re a running football team and we want to run the ball and run it more effectively. When you run the ball and have a defense you’re facing that knows your offense so well. Knows the things that can hurt you and all the little tweaks you can put into the defense, just to confuse the quarterback and make it tough to block on the perimeter and stuff like that. Often times like that it’s just about hitting the play-action play if you can protect it and that gives you the best chance to hit the big play. We had a bunch of them. We made a bunch of different protections and actions and angles to try and create some plays and we about emptied the tank. We had a couple of others that were called and got sacked and that was disappointing.”
Army rushed 44 times for 137 yards.
If the NCAA was a more efficient organization, it would just rename its football record book after Keenan Reynolds, then have someone try to break what he’s pulled off in four years as the Navy quarterback.
Following Navy’s 21-17 victory over Army Saturday, this is what Reynolds had accomplished: in the second quarter, he rushed for his second touchdown of the game, giving him 85 for his career. That set the Division I record for both FCS and FBS teams.
When he scored his first touchdown of the game on a 58-yard run, it was his seventh in Army – Navy games, a new record. His third-quarter touchdown pass was his 30th, a school record. He ended the game with 136 yards rushing, reinforcing his status as the all-time leading Navy rusher with 4,415 yards; he had already passed the record held by former Los Angeles Raider running back Napoleon McCallum. His total – and he still has one game remaining in the Military Bowl against Pittsburgh – is fifth all time in NCAA history.
Further, when he surpassed 36 yards in passing, he became the first player in Navy history to both pass and run for at least 1,000 yards in two seasons. He also became the first quarterback to have won four games against Army.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatlolo has won all eight games his team has played against Army, and is the all-time winningest coach at Navy, with a 67-37 record. It seems some people have noticed. He will be interviewing for the head coach at BYU. The job opened up last week when Bronco Mendenhall left to take over as head coach at Virginia after 11 seasons with the Cougars. During that period, BYU was one of only 11 programs to advance to a bowl game each season, including this one, winning six of those games.
Niumatalolo is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his family were featured in last year’s documentary “Meet the Mormons,” and Niumatalolo’s son Va’a is a sophomore linebacker at BYU.
Niumatlolo’s eight victories in the Army – Navy series tied former Army head coach Red Blaik for most in series history. Blaik finished his career with an 8-8-2 record against the Midshipmen.
One of the decisive plays in the game came with 2 minutes, 3 seconds remaining. With a second and 4 at the Navy 39, Carter lateraled the ball to wide receiver DeAndre Bell. Bell then threw a pass just short of the end zone intended for Tyler Campbell; it was intercepted by Daiquan Thomasson.
“If it’s not there, the plan was to tuck the ball and run, but he saw Tyler Campbell running down the field,” Monken said. “It wasn’t like the defender was blanket covering him. There was a guy there, and DeAndre just put it up there and tried to give him a chance to make a play. The kid [Thomasson] made a heck of a play and brought it down himself. It was man versus man. You get it or I get it, and they went and got it.”
The 7-play touchdown drive that gave Army a 10-7 lead was a bit unique, as seven different players touched the ball. Six were runs, including Campbell’s 29-yard touchdown run. One was a 12-yard pass from Carter to Poe.