America’s service academies are prime examples of hard work and perseverance.
Navy’s performance during the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl exemplified those qualities. The Midshipmen held on to claim a 17-16 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs despite an uncharacteristic performance by the team.
The game was filled with mistakes on both sides of the ball. Despite four turnovers, the Midshipmen were still able to overcome their mistakes. Mistakes that were likely a direct result of a lack of proper preparation.
Navy played an emotional and hard-fought contest against their rival, the Army Black Knights, only 10 days ago. Between that time, the academy conducted exams, which prevented the Midshipmen from utilizing their full allotment of bowl practices.
Ken Niumatalolo‘s squad didn’t use it as an excuse and overcame the obstacle despite the obvious advantage San Diego State held.
San Diego State wasn’t without its faults.
The Aztecs turned the ball over three times, which allowed Navy to stay withing striking distance. San Diego State quarterback Quinn Kaehler couldn’t make the Midshipmen pay for their mistakes. The senior was only 11-of-27 passing with a pair of interceptions.
Navy’s Keenan Reynolds wasn’t much better. The 1,000-yard rusher only managed 26 yards of total offense. The junior signal-caller couldn’t get the ground game going or connect with his receivers.
In the end, a missed 34-yard by junior kicker Donny Hageman with 20 seconds remaining proved to be the difference.
Yeah I don't think the Aztecs were meant to win this one. Fumbles + clock management + miss chip shot game winner.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 24, 2014
With the victory, Navy finished the season 8-5 and built some momentum for the academy’s inclusion into the American Athletic Conference next season.