Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds played his final college football game on his home field needing three touchdowns to reclaim the Division 1 career touchdown record he set earlier this month. In the fourth quarter, Reynolds ran for his third rushing touchdown of the game, his 88th career touchdown, to do just that. Reynolds rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another as No. 21 Navy (11-2) defeated Pittsburgh (8-5) in the Military Bowl, 44-28.
Pitt got off to a good start when Quadree Henderson returned the game’s opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but Navy scored the next 31 points by the midway point of the third quarter. To their credit, the Panthers battled back after falling behind 31-7. Pitt’s first offensive touchdown came on a Nathan Peterman touchdown pass to Qadree Ollison to cut into the Navy lead late in the third quarter. Two plays later, Pitt forced Chris Swain to fumble and Jordan Whitehead scooped the loose ball up and returned it for a 22-yard touchdown. All of a sudden, Pitt was only down by 10 points. A 15-yard touchdown run by Toneo Gulley early in the fourth quarter put Navy back up by 17 and the two teams exchanged touchdowns from there. It was somewhat fitting the final score of the game was the record-setting touchdown run by Reynolds, with 4:19 to play.
Navy’s record-setting quarterback led all players with 144 rushing yards, and he also took to the air more frequently than he is accustomed to doing. Reynolds completed nine of his 17 pass attempts for 126 yards and a touchdown. Just for good measure, Reynolds added a 47-yard reception, thrown by Swain, that seemed to catch Pittsburgh’s defense off guard. He just did not have the speed to keep from getting caught from behind. Reynolds will go down in history as one of the best players to play for the Navy football program, and he could very well go on to do so much more for this country.
Navy’s bowl win was the first of the bowl season for the American Athletic Conference. Before Navy’s victory, the AAC had gone a dreadful 0-5 this postseason. One of those losses came against the ACC, with Tulsa falling just shy against Virginia Tech in an offensive outburst. Navy’s 11 wins this season is a new program high. Year one in the AAC may have lacked a division or conference championship, but the Midshipmen left their mark on their new conference and ended the year with a solid bowl victory and some history. All things considered, this was a huge success for Navy this season.
You can argue Pittsburgh also had a successful year under new head coach Pat Narduzzi. Though the Panthers fizzled out down the stretch, the Panthers won eight games for the first time since joining the ACC and first time since 2010.
Navy will open the 2016 season right back in Annapolis, the site of the Military Bowl, on September 3 against FCS power Fordham. Pittsburgh will also open the season at home that same day against another FCS power, Villanova.