Navy Victorious on Senior Day

It’s been a tough season for the senior class of the 2018 Navy football team. They have seen very few peaks compared to the deep valleys they seem to live in, but this Saturday all 34 seniors put together a 37-29 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in front of 31,517 fans to snap a seven-game losing streak.

“I am excited for our players. They have continued to work hard. I have been impressed by the character of our team,” Said Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo. “They haven’t put their heads down. I am proud of the way they have continued to fight during this year. We are going to enjoy this one and get ready for Tulane.”

Navy hasn’t seen a seven-game losing streak in 16 years, a remarkable achievement for a school with one of the strictest admission standards that are never broken, even for athletics. In 2002, the Midshipmen lost 10 in a row including senior day, but this team had no intentions of allowing that to happen.

The key to that success was senior QB turned WR turned back to QB Zach Abey. Abey led the team with 128 rushing yards, his first 100-yard rushing game since last year when the team lost a close game to UCF, and a pair of touchdowns. Abey has quietly been stellar this season. He has found the end zone an amazing 19 times dating back to last years Military Bowl victory over Virginia where Abey was the MVP. He entered the game in fourth place on Navy’s all-time TD list and needs only four more in the next two games to tie Chris McCoy for third.

“Zach amazes me every time I see him out there. He starts at wide receiver; goes back to quarterback. I think they talked
about center at one point. With Zach, you never doubt him,” said Navy offensive Captain Anthony Gargiulo. “You always know he is going to be there no matter what position they put him in. At center might be a little scary, but any other position is definitely going to be a good spot for

Abey wasn’t the only one who had a milestone day. Navy SB Malcolm Perry rushed for 76 yards, including a 52-yard run that put him over 1,000 yards rushing in back to back seasons. He is Navy’s first player to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years since Keenan Reynolds who accomplished it three straight years (2013-15).

Things started off sluggish for the Mid’s. after taking the opening kickoff, the mid’s couldn’t even get their first play off before taking a delay of game penalty. Shortly after, the mid’s punted the ball and Tulsa drove the ball 51-yards for a TD.

Navy responded with back to back scoring drives ending in Nelson Smith TD’s. On the second extra point attempt, Tulsa’s Reggie Robinson II blocked the kick and returned it 98-yards for a two-point score.

“We didn’t play well on special teams today,” said Niumatalolo. “The blocked extra point was not good.”

Despite the costly error, Navy took an 11-point lead into the second half and the Mid’s defense took control from there. Tulsa opened things up in the second half with an 18-play 72-yard drive that included a remarkable conversion on 4th and 12 when Tulsa QB Seth Boomer found receiver Keylon Stokes for 21-yards. Once Tulsa made their way to the 2-yard line, it seemed inevitable that they would score. That’s when Navy DT Jackson Pittman forced a Tulsa fumble that was recovered by the midshipmen on the three-yard line. Navy would settle for a FG despite a 52-yard run from Perry.

The next Tulsa drive, Navy once again stepped up. With only 1:22 left in the third quarter, sophomore CB Micha Farrar picked off Tulsa QB Seth Boomer and returned it 54-yards to the Tulsa 23. Navy would only get two plays before a Mike Martin fumble gave the ball right back to Tulsa. Tulsa drove the ball 76-yards for a touchdown, but Navy senior defensive end Jarvis Polu managed to get his hands on the ball and blocked the extra point.

Navy and Tulsa would exchange touchdown drives, but with 4:46 left in the game, and Navy leading 29-37, the Midshipmen ran the clock and the Navy seniors got to celebrate their final home game with a win.

Next week the Mid’s will face Tulane at 12:00 pm in New Orleans.


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