Despite an electric atmosphere and a sellout crowd of 32,007, the Navy Midshipmen took advantage of some costly penalties and injuries suffered by the Texas State Bobcats to earn a hard fought 35-21 victory in San Marcos.
Led by backup QB Tago Smith, the Midshipmen set the tone early by forcing the Bobcats into a three and out and then drove methodically down the field to take a 7-0 lead on a Chris Swain 14 yard run. Texas State then drove down to the Navy 15, aimed a howitzer at their collective foot and fired repeatedly. Three personal fouls later, one being on Bobcat head coach Dennis Franchione for going ballistic at the referees, the 'Cats got right back to the 15 yard line with a 27 yard pass to Jafus Gaines, but placekicker Jason Dann shanked a 32 yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
Navy then kicked it into high gear as they methodically moved down the field to reel off three straight touchdowns. Texas State had a number of chances to stop the Midshipmen on third down, but Navy would always come up with a big play to answer. One such play was a misdirection end around that left the entire right side of the field open for Jamir Tillman to rush 24 yards and set up a subsequent touchdown for the Middies that seemingly broke the Bobcats' backs.
Every time the Bobcats seemed to get moving against the Navy defense, they would suffer from a lack of discipline and commit a crushing penalty, make the wrong read, or drop a catchable ball. Texas State was able to eventually answer with a 1 yard rushing touchdown off of a 75 yard drive with under a minute left in the first half, but by then the damage was already done as the 'Cats trailed 28-7 at half.
Making matters worse for Texas State was a nasty leg injury suffered by Michael Orakpo early on in the first half on a Navy cut block. Orakpo initially kept his pads on and was able to put some weight on his bad leg, but he came out after halftime in street clothes and on crutches. His injury appeared to be right around the area of the MCL, so 'Rak could be out for a while depending on its severity.
After failing to stop Navy from scoring at all in the first half, the defense stiffened by stuffing the Mids at the Bobcat goal line, racking up an interception, and keeping Navy from scoring at all in the third quarter. However, the Bobcat offense wasn't able to take advantage, as the Navy defense continued to shut down any attempts by Texas State to go over the top by dropping two safeties into deep coverage. Bobcat quarterback Tyler Jones also played inconsistently and occasionally had happy feet as the Middies kept him off balance with some aggressive blitzes.
The 'Cats were able to get their offense going in the fourth quarter and were able to plunge Robert Lowe and Terrence Franks into the end zone on a 1 yard rush and 12 yard pass, respectively. Despite cutting the Midshipmen lead to 14, the Texas State comeback attempt was stunted when Navy took advantage of the Bobcat defense leaving the deep left side of the field open and threw a 67 yard TD bomb to Tillman. The Middies iced the game after recovering an onside kick attempt after the Franks touchdown.
The Bobcats will now hit the road to take on Illinois next Saturday on ESPNNews, while Navy will have their first home game of the season as they host Rutgers in Annapolis.
Stats of the Night
- Penalties: Navy- 4 for 50 yards; Texas State- 11 for 124 yards (5 for 69 yards in 1Q)
- Third down conversions: Navy - 8 of 12, Texas State - 5 of 15
- Noah Copeland, Navy - 11 carries for 116 yards
- Robert Lowe, Texas State - 16 carries, 92 yards, 1 TD
- Tago Smith, Navy: 5-7 for 117 yards, 2 TD/1INT, 27 carries, 85 yards, 2 TDs.
- Tyler Jones, Texas State: 24-36 for 231 yards, 1 TD/1INT, 19 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD