Navy fumbles away opener in loss to FCS Delaware


Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai gathered the snap on the primary play of the season from scrimmage and tried to position the soccer within the stomach of fullback Anton Corridor Jr., anticipating a clear trade within the Midshipmen’s opener in opposition to Delaware on Saturday afternoon.

Besides the execution was something however flawless. Neither participant was in a position to management the ball on the mesh level, and it wound up on the turf at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the place the upset-minded Blue Hens recovered on the Navy 21.

One play later, following a defensive go interference penalty, the Midshipmen yielded a landing and by no means recovered, reeling amid a stalled, turnover-prone triple possibility that devolved right into a one-dimensional speeding assault in a 14-7 loss that left Coach Ken Niumatalolo looking for an evidence.

“That can’t happen,” the winningest coach in program historical past mentioned. “We start the day off every day, ball security, then we go straight into our mesh stuff. I mean stuff we’ve done for 30 years and been the same process, mesh, perimeter, so those are things our guys can do in their sleep. To have that is just unconscionable.”

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The Midshipmen misplaced three fumbles, all throughout the first 19 minutes, and turned the ball over thrice on downs of their first loss to a Soccer Championship Subdivision opponent since 2007, additionally in opposition to Delaware. They amassed simply 184 yards speeding and averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

Final yr over the ultimate eight video games Navy dedicated two turnovers mixed, underscoring Saturday’s uncharacteristically sloppy play on offense that doomed Navy to dropping a 3rd straight opener. It additionally misplaced simply 5 fumbles in all of 2021.

“We just didn’t have the right attitude today about moving guys off the ball,” mentioned Navy beginning proper sort out Kip Frankland, one in every of three group captains. “You practice every day, but you just have to come out in the game and do it. The coaches do a great job of preparing us for the game, and then we didn’t execute on offense.”

Lavatai, a junior, completed with 34 yards on 18 carries and accomplished 5 of 13 passes for 135 yards. The underwhelming efficiency got here after Niumatalolo had praised the second-year starter for his growth on the finish of final season and through the newest fall camp.

His long term was for 14 yards, and Lavatai was indecisive at instances on pitches, together with as soon as delivering the ball behind the supposed slot again on a mess around the suitable facet. Lavatai’s hesitancy to attract defenders to him earlier than pitching on the final doable second compelled Navy to run primarily dives within the second half.

The shift in technique labored throughout the Midshipmen’s lone scoring drive late within the third quarter. Reserve fullback Daba Fofana, changing Corridor for good within the second half, had 28 yards on 5 carries, and Lavatai capped the 56-yard march with a two-yard leap to interrupt the goal-line aircraft to trim the deficit to 14-7.

The Midshipmen thereafter went three performs and punt, managed two yards on fourth and three and punted on fourth and eight. Throughout their ultimate possession Lavatai threw incomplete on fourth and 4 from the Delaware 9, with the go supposed for slot again Maquel Haywood behind the tip zone.

“When you can’t get your triple and some of that stuff going, if you’re worried about the mesh, then you’re going to elements where it’s not always you,” Niumatalolo mentioned. “I mean we had to get out of character.”

The protection, regardless of remaining on the sector for prolonged stretches and being handed brief fields, rose up for 12 tackles for loss, essentially the most for Navy because it additionally recorded a dozen Oct. 22, 2005, in opposition to Rice. The Midshipmen added 5 sacks for his or her most since 2019.

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One of many few defensive breakdowns got here when free security Rayuan Lane III allowed Blue Hens large receiver Chandler Harvin to get behind him on first and 10 from the Delaware 49. Quarterback Nolan Henderson delivered a strike, and Harvin scored the decisive landing for a 14-0 lead with 4:30 to play within the third quarter.

The Midshipmen weren’t helped earlier within the sequence when officers assessed linebacker Colin Ramos with roughing the passer on second down and 9. Ramos nonetheless completed with a career-high 9 tackles, together with six within the first half.

Halfway via the second quarter Ramos, a beginning sophomore on the weak facet, dropped Henderson for a four-yard loss on fourth and purpose from the two to maintain the rating 7-0.

“I’m never going to hang my head and complain about having to go on the field,” mentioned senior striker John Marshall, who performed highschool soccer at Gonzaga within the District. “I play defense. I like playing defense. If there’s an opportunity for me to go on the field and play defense I’m going to be excited about that, definitely no fingers to point. Defense made a couple crucial mistakes.”

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