Navy extends streak, QB breaks record
The Midshipmen post their 12th straight win over Army and Keenan Reynolds gets his 27th, 28th and 29th rushing TDs.
LONNIE RICHARDSON couldn't remember the last time he played in the snow, if at all. The Chester native and Navy junior defensive back took in the wintry mix of swirling snow and whipping wind at Lincoln Financial Field with a smile.
Richardson couldn't feel his feet or his hands - and it wasn't the cold that was doing it, but being part of Navy's 34-7 victory over Army on Saturday.
It meant that Richardson, and teammates like Jake Zuzek, Navy's junior right guard out of Brookhaven, kept intact the Midshipmen's winning streak against Army, which is now at 12 games, the longest in the 114-year rivalry.
The Midshipmen (8-4) haven't lost to Army since 2001 at Veterans Stadium and lead the series, 58-49-7.
It was a big day for Navy sophomore Keenan Reynolds, whose three rushing touchdowns gave him 29 for the season, breaking the FBS record for rushing TDs by a quarterback formerly shared by Navy's Ricky Dobbs (2009) and Kansas State's Collin Klein (2012). Reynolds scored on runs of 47, 11 and 1 yard, and also caught a two-point conversion pass.
"Coming into the game, I wasn't too concerned about the record," said Reynolds, who finished with 136 yards rushing on 30 carries, and was 2-for-7 passing, for 10 yards. "If I broke it, I broke it. If not, oh well. My main concern was trying to get the 'W.' If that involved me getting zero touchdowns and everyone else having a field day, I was good with that."
On the other side, Army coach Rich Ellerson seemed like a man resolved to the fact that he might have coached in his last Army-Navy game. In fact, athletic director Boo Corrigan announced last night that Ellerson had been fired. Asked about his job security after going 0-5 against Navy, and losing by lopsided scores like Saturday's, a dejected Ellerson seemed resigned.
"That's not my call," said Ellerson, whose team went 3-9 this season and 20-41 overall. "We've made some progress. But I wasn't brought in to make progress. I was brought in to win some football games and beat Navy. I've lost to our rival five times, so we haven't had that conversation [about coming back]. I'm a football coach. It's hard, but again, it's not about me, it's those guys. That's who I'm sick for right now.
"You know how proud I am of that football team. I love that football team. That's a great team and a great senior class. You can't imagine the feeling that they have for one another and what they're committed to. I want for them to have a better feeling than this today. That's what's killing me. I knew what the job description was and I knew it wasn't to get close. It was to get into the end zone and we didn't get into the end zone."
For local players like Richardson, who played in his first Army-Navy game on Navy's special teams, the game marked a special moment.
"You know, I can't even remember the last time I played in snow besides playing around as a kid; it was a great experience, it was like being a little kid again," Richardson said. "I can't pick out any one particular moment that you know you're in the Army-Navy game, but with all of the hard work and practices, I think it might have come with the flyover before the game. It's one of those things we don't see every day. Once that happened, it was game time."
It wasn't much of a game. Navy led 17-0 at halftime. Army did pull to within 17-7 with 6:36 left in the third quarter. Navy then responded with the next 17 points - including Reynolds' 1-yard score with 46 seconds to play.
"The thought did come across my mind to take a knee," said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who played for Ellerson at Hawaii. "But then my thoughts went to, I have a kid that has a chance to break a record that's hard to come by."
Army linebacker Jarrett Mackey, who was all over the field and led the Black Knights with 11 stops, shrugged his shoulders when it came to Navy possibly running up the score on that late-fourth-quarter touchdown.
"It's like any rivalry, they were just playing football," Mackey said. "I don't think [Navy] was running it up. If they wanted to run the ball, it was up to us to stop them. It's not on them, it's on us. Defensively and offensively, we had to play better."