The Mids put up a valiant effort before losing to Louisiana Tech on a field goal as time expired in the Armed Forces Bowl on Friday night.
Here is a look back at the three keys:
1) Slow down the passing attack – Fail
Navy knew coming into this one that to have a chance at beating the Bulldogs they would have to slow down prolific passer Ryan Higgins and the dangerous Louisiana Tech passing attack. Unfortunately, the Mids were not able to get near to Higgins as he led what was a top-five scoring offense coming into the game to another 48 points in the bowl game.
Higgins completed 29 of 40 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns. Navy was not able to pick off the Bulldogs passer either as he threw the ball all over the field to his explosive receivers. It was particularly frustrating for a Navy side that did manage to shut down the La Tech running game, but wide receivers Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson were unstoppable as they combined for 22 catches, 362 yards, and four touchdowns on the day.
2) Get some continuity in the offense – Pass
The defense may have struggled, but the offense came out firing against a defense that it was always expected could be vulnerable to the ground attack. Navy scored 45 points and rolled up 459 yards of total offense with a surprisingly balanced game plan.
Navy rushed the ball 49 times for 300 yards and five touchdowns, and quarterback Zach Abey was able to spread the ball to his teammates far more efficiently than in the Army game. Abey was the leading rusher for the game with 25 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while fullback Chris High added two scores on his seven carries.
The passing attack though was the surprise. Abey completed seven of his 12 passes on the day for 159 yards and a touchdown. It was an impressive display as, after missing a touchdown pass early, Abey hooked up with five different receivers to keep the Bulldogs off balance. It was a very promising performance from Abey that can only bode well for the Mids future.
3) Win the turnover battle – Fail
After an indisciplined display against Army, Navy was much more secure with the football in this one. The first Navy drive of the game resulted in a fumble as an Abey pitch failed to connect with its intended target and a La Tech defender fell on the football. This could have doomed Navy to failure, but Abey and the offense regrouped and the option was run successfully from that point forward.
Navy was also the beneficiary of a fumble recovery as the game was tied 1-1 in the giveaway/takeaway column. It was an unlucky day for the Mids in this regard though as Navy was also close to recovering a kickoff, but the player was just out of bounds before recovering the ball. Navy also thought they had made a key interception late when Jarid Ryan stepped in front of a pass intended for Carlos Henderson. A dubious pass interference call saved La Tech and the drive finished with a touchdown that tied the game at 45-45.