Nothing seemed to go right for the Niners on Homecoming Weekend. Charlotte was held scoreless in their first-ever AAC home game in program history. This win marks Navy’s first time shutting out two teams in the same season since 2008.
Charlotte received the ball first, choosing to start Trexler Ivey at quarterback. In a surprising decision, Jalon Jones started the game lined up at receiver. After one drive, Jalon was subbed off, not seeing the field for the rest of the quarter. In Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Poggi stated the coaching staff was committed to a two-quarterback system.
Coach Poggi on the Jalon Jones Position Switch:
“When we decided we were going with Trexler at quarterback, I thought we can’t sit down Jones. He’s the biggest offensive threat we have, so where can we play him? Offensively, we don’t have an eraser…but [Jalon] is as close to one as we have. I think we have to reexamine how we use him.”
After a quick three-and-out to start the game, Charlotte punted the ball to Navy, giving the Midshipmen favorable field position to start the drive at their own 40-yard line. The Niners forced Navy to punt after a 7-play drive, capped off by a sack by defensive tackle Miguel Jackson.
Navy made a quarterback switch after their first drive, putting in freshman Braxton Woodson following a rib injury to Tai Lavatai. Both team’s defenses dominated the remainder of the first quarter. Charlotte and Navy combined for just 3 first-downs, combining for 38 yards.
Injuries plagued the Niners in the second quarter. Left tackle Kendall Stanley and right guard Ja’Khi Green left the game, but Ja’Khi Green was able to play in the second half.
Coach Poggi on offensive line injuries:
“Kendall dislocated his ankle. Our medical staff was able to put it back in. He’s probably done for the season. Ja’Khi has had ankle problems all year, he got rolled up on and left the game. But he came out and played in the second half, that’s an effort beyond the call of duty, but I’m sure he’ll be pretty banged up.”
Charlotte’s defense came to play, despite the offense’s inability to make plays. Edge rushers Eyabi Okie-Anoma and Stone Handy made their presence felt, bursting into the backfield to make multiple tackle-for-losses. The Niner’s defense, led by Coach Ryan Osborn, held Navy to just 7 yards passing and 50 yards rushing in the first half.
Nikhai Hill-Green on the defensive gameplan after Woodson entered the game:
“It was pretty similar. But we knew that [Woodson] was more of a runner. We didn’t change anything too much, it was similar to our initial game plan.”
Both teams went into the half scoreless, totaling more punts (12) than first downs (11).
Navy received the ball in the second half, scoring a touchdown on a 5-play, 75-yard drive. The Midshipmen completed their longest touchdown pass of the season on third-&-14 after Braxton Woodson connected with Eli Heidenreich for a 69-yard touchdown.
The Niners’ rough day continued, with Trexler Ivey throwing an interception on the third play of the following drive. Even with Ivey’s struggles, Coach Poggi decided to keep the quarterback in for the rest of the third quarter.
Coach Poggi on the decision to keep Trexler Ivey on the field:
“Trexler took all the reps this week. He took about 98%. It’s one of the reasons why we didn’t feel good about going with Jalon either, he just didn’t get the rep work you needed to have.”
Boos began to echo through Jerry Richardson Stadium after the Niners ran a half-back draw on third-&-14. Through three quarters, Charlotte was a miserable 1-of-12 on third down conversions. The third quarter ended with Navy leading Charlotte 7-0.
The Niners started the fourth quarter with a 34-yard pass completion from Trexler Ivery to Jairus Mack. The next two plays were nothing short of tragic for Charlotte. After taking a sack for a loss of 9 yards, Trexler continued to struggle, getting strip-sacked by linebacker Colin Ramos. The Midshipmen recovered the football.
Navy took advantage of the turnover, scoring on a 62-yard rush up the middle by full-back Alex Tecza, making the score 14-0.
Charlotte saw their first snap in the red zone with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. However, the Niner’s offense failed to convert a 4th and goal on the 6-yard line. Navy’s defense rebounded after a few unforced errors to make a multitude of crucial stops in their own territory.
On the last play of the game, Trexler Ivey threw an interception in the end zone for a touchback, in a last-ditch effort to put points on the board. This loss is Charlotte’s first time being shut out since 2017 vs Old Dominion.
Charlotte will head to East Carolina University next week, while Navy will face Air Force at home on CBS.