The Navy Midshipmen claim the nation’s No. 1 rushing offense. The team’s triple option attack averages 345.1 rushing yards per game.
Ken Niumatalolo‘s squad is well behind its average after the San Diego Aztecs built a 13-7 lead in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Through two quarters of play, the Midshipmen only managed 74 rushing yards and 82 total yards of offense. San Diego State has done a good job dictating which ball carrier Navy chooses to run the football.
“I don’t think we’re stopping the run,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long told ESPN as he headed to the locker room for halftime. “I think we’re deciding who is going to get it. They got some good plays off the pitch that we didn’t support very well. We have a long way to go. It’s the type of game we thought it was going to be.”
San Diego State decided to keep the ball out of the hands of Navy’s dynamic quarterback, Keenan Reynolds. Long’s defense held Reynolds, who leads all quarterbacks with 1,182 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, to minus-five rushing yards in the first half.
Over half of Navy’s yardage (42 yards) came on the team’s first drive, which resulted in a touchdown. The Middies only gained 32 yards after that point.
The Aztecs have only been marginally better on offense.
Donnel Pumphrey, the nation’s third-leading rusher, managed 66 yards on 11 carries, while quarterback Quinn Kaehler was terribly inaccurate. San Diego State’s signal-caller was only 5-of-11 passing for 56 yards and an interception.
The difference in the contest was a poor pitch from Reynolds that resulted in a fumble San Diego State recovered. Five plays and 39 yards later, The Aztecs scored their only touchdown of the first half courtesy of five-yard run by Pumphrey.
Long said during his interview that he expects both teams to establish the run in the second half. Neither have been effective dropping back to pass. Navy, in particular, will likely sprinkle in some new wrinkles in the second half, while San Diego State’s 3-3-5 defense should continue to move and shift to present problems for the Midshipmen.