Navy football is back and is the pride of Maryland football



By: Corey Johns

When the Baltimore Ravens and Maryland Terps started their season on winning streaks it appears football fan could be experiencing a special season with contending teams playing both on Saturday and Sunday. But reality has started to set in on both those teams and their deficiencies are showing that both teams have a lot of work to do.

But while those two teams are now struggling, the Navy Midshipmen have become the pride on the Gridiron for state-wide football fans thirsting for a great team to support.

On Saturday, the Mids dominated the previously No. 6 Houston Cougars; a team in contention for a spot in the four-team playoffs and led by legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate Greg Ward Jr. The final score was 46-40, but the game wasn’t even that close.

The Mids picked Ward off twice, sacked him twice, forced two fumbles and simply beat him up in the game. Ward finished the game with 453 total yards and four total touchdowns, but nothing was easy for the guy who had made everything look easy. But all of it was also while playing catch up. Navy never looked like they weren’t the best team on the field in the second half. Navy dominated the Cougars in the third quarter, out-scoring them 21-7 on their way to a 42-27 lead.

Everybody knew what Navy was going to try to do in the game, but Houston and their No. 1 defense in the country couldn’t figure out a way to stop them. Houston’s top-rated run defense allowed 306 yards on the ground against Navy’s triple-option. Will Worth only attempted five passes the entire game and completed only three. But talk about efficiency, two of them went for touchdowns.

The win was Navy’s first victory over a top 10 team since they beat No. 2 South Carolina in 1984. But this victory was more than just one lucky win on a Saturday. Navy has been building up to this point.

Way back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s Navy was one of the elite college football teams. But that was a way different era of college sports back there. Navy’s was one of the only programs in the country able to truly have a national recruiting base and they used that to get two Heisman Trophy winners: running back Joe Bellino and future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach.

As colleges put more money in their athletic programs, were able to spread the map of where they could recruit, and careers as professional athletes became a more obtainable goal for top recruits, Navy took a big dip. Top athletes weren’t willing to make the military commitment. They weren’t willing to go through the grueling daily routines future Naval officers had to go through. Navy had a football team but from in a 40-year period from 1963 to 2003, the Mids made only four appearances in bowl games.

Navy became an after thought, in near their base in Annapolis, but now, they are more than just relevant. Paul Johnson made the Mids a perennial bowl participant, taking them to five-straight postseason games from 2003 to 2007 before moving on the become the head coach at Georgia Tech.

After Johnson left, his assistant coach Ken Niumatalolo stepped up as the head coach. Since them, Navy had taken off. Niumatalolo has won more games with Navy than any coach in program history, has gotten them to seven more goal games to extend the streak to 12-straight years with a postseason game, and he’s led them to victories in their last three bowl games.

Last year, Navy left Independent status after 123 years of tradition of not being in a conference and joined the American Athletic Conference as a football affiliate. It was a questionable move, but it proved to be the move that has really launched the Mids back to greatness. With a clear path to a major Bowl Game by being in a conference, Navy had more to play for and went and all-time best 11-2. Their star quarterback Keenan Reynolds left the offense to perfection, set NCAA records and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. Things were happening for Navy that hadn’t happened for over half a century.

And the program continues to build now.

Reynolds may have graduated, but Niumatalolo has done a great job finding incredible athletes to run his triple option. They are easily one of the most well-conditioned programs in the country and capable of running all day long and they are obviously a very disciplined team.

Its all leading back to huge wins, national rankings and chances for postseason glory.

Navy is back.


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