Coming into an opening season match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Navy Midshipmen had a chance to do something they hadn't done in four previous tries; beat the Buckeyes.
In front of 57,579 fans at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, the fifth time wouldn't be the charm as Navy fell to Ohio State by a score of 34-17, despite leading by a point at halftime.
The score line doesn't say it all though; Ohio State looked shaky at best for the majority of the game as they trailed at halftime and Navy was hitting the heavily favorite Buckeyes with everything they had.
For the majority of the contest, Navy's defense did a nice job of bending, but not breaking and the offense did a solid job of responding when the defense did break. However, when Navy needed a response the most - trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter after a score from Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliot - they were unable to muster up anything and instead went three-and-out.
Ohio State got the ball back and added another score on the following possession, sticking the fork in the Mids with a 17-point lead and just over two minutes to play.
Ohio State took control of the lead in the third quarter when they tested Navy with the deep ball. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett - who started in place of the injured Braxton Miller - fired a bomb out to wide receiver Devin Smith as he out-ran Navy defenders on his way to pay dirt for an 80-yard score.
Navy responded to that score with a field goal, but were unable to re-take the lead.
In the early portions of the game, Navy's defense was bending, but was also snapping back with plays like safety Parrish Gaines' clutch interception in the redzone in the second quarter to take away a scoring opportunity from the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes found themselves in a similar situation with about three minutes to play in the second quarter as they faced a third-and-two inside the Mids' redzone and ran an option play to the right side. Ohio State's Elliott received the pitch and was quickly met by Mids linebacker Chris Johnson, who halted Elliott for a seven yard loss, forcing the Buckeyes to settle for a field goal, making the score 7-6 in favor of the Mids.
Navy caught a big break in the second quarter when the lead official reviewed a fumbled option pitch that was recovered by the Buckeyes, but the call was reversed and declared as a forward incomplete pass from Reynolds.
From there, mistakes began to pile up and Navy's luck would run out. They ended the first half with a missed field goal and things would only get uglier from there.
On a third-and-three play in the opening minutes of the third quarter, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds pulled the ball back in from the fullback in an attempt to pitch out to slot back Desmond Brown. But Reynolds was hit by Buckeyes' defensive end Joey Bosa and the ball ended up behind Brown and was scooped and returned 61 yards for a Buckeyes' touchdown by sophomore linebacker Darron Lee.
If not for the missed field goal and the fumble, this may have been written with a headline something to the tune of, "Navy Upsets Ohio State; Rushing Game Shines."
But alas, that wasn't the case, although the Mids did out-rush the Buckeyes with 370 yards on the ground compared to their 194. Ohio State had all summer to prepare for Reynolds and the triple-option and still seemed unable to stop it.
Temple, Navy's next opponent, dismantled Vanderbilt on Thursday night 37-7. Navy will be out to avenge this loss, and if a top-10 team struggled to contain the triple option, Temple probably will too.