Dec 9, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Army Black Knights wide receiver Casey Reynolds (87) is chased by Navy Midshipmen safety Kush'i Abraham (35) during the first half of the Army-Navy Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Goal-line stand preserves Army’s 17-11 win over Navy

Bryson Daily passed for a touchdown, Kalib Fortner scored a key defensive TD and the defense had a decisive goal-line stand to help Army defeat Navy 17-11 on Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.

Army (6-6), which topped Air Force earlier this season, secured its first Commander-in-Chief’s trophy since 2020 by defeating Navy (5-7).

A dramatic finish saw the Midshipmen drive to the Army 2-yard line before Dre Miller stopped Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai just short of the end zone on fourth-and-goal with three seconds left. Army took a safety on the final play of the game.

Navy outgained Army 309-259, but the Black Knights scored 14 points off two Midshipmen turnovers. With Navy driving and showing a spark under its reserve quarterback, Lavatai, Fortner strip-sacked Lavatai, grabbed the ball on one bounce and sprinted for a 44-yard touchdown to give Army a 17-3 lead with 4:49 to go.

That play helped offset Navy’s response on the ensuing possession — a 14-yard touchdown pass from Lavatai to Jayden Umbarger with 2:47 remaining. Navy’s two-point conversion attempt was no good.

Navy got the ball back without any timeouts and promptly moved downfield. Lavatai finished 16-of-26 through the air for 179 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 74 yards. Umbarger had six catches for 75 yards.

Army scored the first TD on a four-yard pass from Daily to Tyson Riley with 6:32 remaining in the first quarter.

Kanye Udoh rushed for 88 yards on 13 carries to lead the Army ground game. Daily added 84 yards on 27 carries and was 7-for-14 passing for 54 yards. Casey Reynolds was the Black Knights’ top receiver with three catches for 32 yards.

The Midshipmen averted potential disaster with 2:53 to play in the third quarter. Leading 10-0, Army seemingly recovered its own punt inside the Navy 10-yard line after the ball appeared to hit Navy returner Amin Hassan on the left cleat. However, a lengthy replay review upheld the initial ruling that the ball missed Hassan and the Black Knights Ay’Jaun Marshall downed it at the 11.

Navy took advantage, moving 70 yards on 12 plays to set up a 37-yard Nathan Kirkwood field goal with 12:45 to play in the game. After the Midshipmen attempted just five passes on their first six possessions, Lavatai was 4-for-6 for 36 yards through the air on the drive.

Xavier Arline threw an interception and gained just six yards on five carries before yielding to Lavatai.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Annapolis, Maryland, USA;  Air Force Falcons quarterback Zac Larrier (9) drops back to the pocket during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Air Force tops Navy with record-setting TD

Zac Larrier threw the longest touchdown pass in program history as No. 22 Air Force beat Navy 17-6 on Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Md.

Larrier connected with Dane Kinamon for a 94-yard score on the first play of the second quarter to provide the Falcons with all the offense they would need to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1997.

The Air Force defense took care of the rest, holding the Midshipmen (3-4) to just 124 yards of total offense. Alec Mock punctuated the impressive performance with an 18-yard pick-6 with 3:51 left in the game.

Navy was without senior quarterback Tai Lavatai (ribs) for the first three quarters. Freshman Braxton Woodson started under center, completing 2 of 6 passes for just 6 yards.

Lavatai came on for the fourth quarter but couldn’t complete a comeback, throwing for 96 yards and a pair of interceptions on 13-for-23 passing. He did, however, break the shutout, connecting with Eli Heidenreich for a 10-yard TD with 50 seconds remaining.

Meanwhile, Larrier completed 4 of 5 passes for 151 yards and the TD to Kinamon.

Emmanuel Michel led the Falcons’ rushing attack with 69 yards on 22 carries.

The Midshipmen ended up getting the ball with 6:40 left in the game, but Alex Tecza killed any chance of a comeback. He failed to haul in a routine pass from Lavatai, with the ball bouncing off his hands and into the grasp of Jamari Bellamy, who came down with an interception.

Lavatai later threw the pick-6 that added insult to injury.

Air Force looked poised to open the scoring on the game’s first drive, but Matthew Dapore missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt.

But the Falcons were still able to draw first blood thanks to Larrier’s record-setting touchdown throw, which gave Air Force a 7-0 lead that it ended up taking into the break.

Navy totaled just 20 yards through the first 30 minutes of action.

Dapore made it 10-0 with a 40-yard field goal with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons defensive back Trey Williams (0) and defensive back Jamari Bellamy (3) and fullback Emmanuel Michel (4) and defensive back K.C. Beard (14) and cornerback Zion Kelly (17) celebrate after the game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Air Force back in rankings, battles rival Navy

If a rivalry game with Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy implications wasn’t enough to get Air Force fired up, perhaps a spot in the national rankings will do the trick.

The No. 22 Falcons find themselves among the top 25 teams in the country for the first time since 2019, and they will look to keep climbing on Saturday when they face Navy in Annapolis, Md.

Air Force (6-0) moved into the rankings thanks to a 34-27 victory over Wyoming last weekend. The Falcons leaned on their rushing attack, amassing 356 yards on the ground, including a team-high 111 from quarterback Zac Larrier.

Although the win pushed Air Force into the national spotlight, coach Troy Calhoun knows his team can’t concern itself with the extra attention it’s about to receive.

“We’re on to the next practice — to learn from a game and to move forward,” Calhoun said following the victory over Wyoming. “What’s (outside noise) mean? What’s it really mean?”

The Falcons were able to erase an early 14-point deficit against the Cowboys, and that type of resiliency is something that Air Force hopes to carry into the back half of its season.

“We just know who we are. We’re going to kick you in the teeth and we’re going to go at you, every play,” Falcons running back Owen Burk said. “Good things are going to happen, bad things are going to happen, but we’re going to keep moving forward and we’re never going to quit.

“I think that’s what we’re going to do the rest of the season.”

Air Force has won its first six games for the first time since 2002.

The Midshipmen’s spirits are also high after beating Charlotte 14-0 last Saturday. Although the 49ers ran 68 plays, Navy (3-3) held them to 265 yards while snagging a pair of interceptions.

Senior quarterback Tai Lavatai lasted just one offensive drive before exiting with a rib injury, forcing freshman Braxton Woodson to step in under center.
Woodson completed 5 of 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 58 yards on 18 carries.

With their 27-24 win over North Texas on Oct. 7, the Midshipmen have strung together back-to-back victories for the first time this season, but coach Brian Newberry understands there is plenty of work to be done if his team is going to hand Air Force its first loss.

“It’s awesome to win two consecutive league games. We got to find a way to be more consistent offensively,” Newberry said. “We’re going to have to score points to beat a team like Air Force. Everybody knows that.

“We got to go out and get better (and) put together a great plan.”

Saturday marks the 56th meeting, with the Falcons leading the all-time series 33-22. However, Air Force has struggled in Annapolis, going 9-12.

The Falcons are riding an 11-game winning streak dating back to last season, tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the country among FBS teams. It also matches the second-longest winning streak in program history.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2023; Dublin, IRL; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (7) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Notre Dame opens with 42-3 drubbing of Navy

Sam Hartman threw for four touchdowns in his Notre Dame debut as the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish crushed Navy 42-3 in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams.

Hartman spent the last five seasons at Wake Forest, where he threw for an Atlantic Coast Conference record 110 touchdowns. He looked right at home with his new program on Saturday, completing 19 of 23 passes for 266 yards.

Jaden Greathouse had three catches for 68 yards and two TDs for Notre Dame, which improved to 3-0 against the Midshipmen in games played in Ireland. Jayden Thomas added 78 yards on four receptions.

Alex Tecza had 38 rushing yards and Daba Fofana recorded 32 on 16 carries for Navy, which saw quarterback Tai Lavatai complete 3 of 6 passes for 43 yards.

The Midshipmen finished with 169 yards of total offense and made just two trips to the red zone.

The Fighting Irish put together a 13-play, 81-yard drive to open the game, taking a 7-0 lead on Audric Estime’s 1-yard rushing touchdown. Estime ended up with 95 yards on 16 touches for the game.

After the Midshipmen failed to convert a fourth-and-3 on their ensuing drive, Notre Dame doubled its advantage when Jadarian Price scored on the ground from 19 yards out with 1:03 left in the opening quarter.

Hartman made it 21-0 when he recorded his first TD as a member of the Fighting Irish, a 35-yard strike to Greathouse with 10 minutes left in the first half.

Evan Warren’s 36-yard field-goal attempt with 1:55 to play until the break went wide right, and Notre Dame capitalized on the miss when Hartman found Thomas for a 14-yard TD 1:42 later to send the Irish into halftime up 28-0.

Navy went three-and-out to begin the second half. The Fighting Irish took less than three minutes to tack on to their lead, as Greathouse was on the receiving end of a 20-yard touchdown that made it 35-0.

Hartman connected with Deion Colzie for a 25-yard TD with 11:54 remaining in the game before Warren broke the shutout by making good on a 31-yard field goal.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman  during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame vs Navy: Preview, Prop Pick & Prediction

Sam Hartman makes his Notre Dame debut in Ireland as the No. 13 Fighting Irish take the fight to Navy.

The Midshipmen bring a new coach and mindset to Dublin, promising to stretch beyond the throwback option offense and use athletes in new ways.

Notre Dame has won the two meetings between programs in Ireland, 54-27 in 1996 and 50-10 in 2012.

This game was rescheduled from its original date in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET
–Television: NBC
–Location: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
–Point Spread: Notre Dame (-20.5)

Some novelty travels with Navy across the pond to Ireland with a new head coach and offensive coordinator promising to expand beyond the triple-option base to push the ball downfield. But the element of surprise is lost when an opponent has the entire offseason to prep and study tendencies of the coaching staff and personnel.

Notre Dame calibrated the offense with Hartman at the controls following his record-setting career at Wake Forest. One of the best offensive line groups in the nation could make life easy for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame was an 18.5-point favorite when the game opened at Circa and has risen to 20.5 points.

Our Pick: Notre Dame 41, Navy 16

Following a 9-4 season in his first as head coach at Notre Dame, Marcus Freeman went out and found a pillar at the quarterback spot.

Hartman arrives with great fanfare after setting the ACC record with 110 touchdown passes and two bowl wins at Wake Forest in three seasons as their starting quarterback. The 24-year-old represents the stabilizer Freeman said he needed.

“There’s no substitution for experience. None,” Freeman said. “I don’t care if you’re the head coach or the quarterback. That’s what gives me confidence in Sam Hartman. There’s nothing that’s going to be able to make him too high or too low. He’s thrown interceptions. He’s made bad decisions. He’s made great plays and long touchdown throws. He knows what to expect. That’s the No. 1 thing he brings, but he also makes those guys around him better.”

A deep stable of running backs and a prospect-laden offense line might make Hartman’s evening easier (the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. local time).

Not knowing exactly what to expect from the offense brings a new wrinkle for the Fighting Irish defense.

First-year head coach Brian Newberry wants Navy to feature the disciplined and methodical approach the program is known for historically, but understands the need to stretch defenses and achieve better balance.

The Midshipmen spent part of spring practice working exclusively on shotgun looks that can be used for run or pass plays and even employed multiple-receiver packages. This might not get spread offense devotees excited, but Newberry believes the changes are for the better.

“We want to get off to a fast start,” Newberry said. “It’s hard to simulate what we do in practice. It’s hard enough to simulate what we do schematically, it’s even harder to simulate the speed at which we do it.”

“It’s a very important game for us to show what we’re about. A new team, a new offense, the mentality that we have, and come out not scared of anybody. Respect ‘em, but not scared to play anybody, and I think it’s going to be a really fun game to be a part of and to watch.”
— Navy QB Tai Lavatai

Notre Dame’s No. 1 wide receiver Tobias Merriweather had one reception last season. Navy’s leading returning receiver, captain Jayden Umbarger, had 16 catches in 2022.

The market projects a Notre Dame win and plenty of points. And if the plot plays out as bookmakers anticipate, Navy will find itself in the uncomfortable position of using triple-option personnel to executive repeated forward pass plays.

Enter Notre Dame’s ballhawking secondary, perched behind a strong pass rush, and we’re taking the Fighting Irish defense to score a TD (+420) as our prop of the game.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman prior to Notre Dame Fall Camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

No. 13 Notre Dame hits Ireland to tackle Navy

Quarterback Sam Hartman transferred with the intention of making an immediate impact for his new program. He gets that chance in a spotlight game in his debut for No. 13 Notre Dame against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Hartman spent five seasons at Wake Forest and left the Demon Deacons with a winning reputation and a stockpile of records, including the most touchdowns (110) and second-most yards (12,967) in Atlantic Coast Conference history. He led Wake Forest to bowl wins in each of the past two seasons.

Leaving the past for what he hopes are greener pastures in northern Indiana, Hartman has his sights set on leading the Fighting Irish to their seventh consecutive winning season after the team finished 9-4 in 2022.

“I guess I’m settled in, but I think I’m always learning,” Hartman said. “There is never a day when you’re not seeing a new look, seeing a new play. We always talk about a one-play, one-life mentality here. That’s the standard. That’s what I’m trying to grow on and figuring out how I can make this team the best it can be.”

Hartman’s veteran leadership comes in handy as he tries to work with a receiving corps low on experience.

Although he had just one reception in 2022, Tobias Merriweather is expected to be the No. 1 option, while running back-turned-receiver Chris Tyree and Jayden Thomas serve as supplemental targets.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Gerad Parker said Hartman has already done a good job of building a connection with his receivers.

“He’s done it in a way that has remained patient, but also aggressive and direct. … We all have as a staff,” Parker said. “Let these guys grow and develop and as they do, we can build trust with them and put them in positions to make plays.”

Unlike the Fighting Irish, the Midshipmen will be heavily relying on their running game, which centers around the triple-option.

However, that formation might have a different look under first-year offensive coordinator Grant Chesnut. Navy also has a new head coach in Brian Newberry, who had served as defensive coordinator since the 2019 campaign.

“We want to get off to a fast start,” Newberry said. “It’s hard to simulate what we do in practice. It’s hard enough to simulate what we do schematically, it’s even harder to simulate the speed at which we do it.

“The speed at which we play and the confidence with which our kids play at is gonna be extremely important.”

Fullback Daba Fofana served as the centerpiece of last season’s triple-option, rushing for 819 yards and six touchdowns on 186 carries. Quarterbacks Xavier Arline and Tai Lavatai were also strong on the ground, amassing 376 and 309 yards, respectively.

Despite the success in the running game, the Midshipmen settled for a 4-8 record in 2022. They have not had a winning season since 2019, when they went 11-2.

The Fighting Irish leads the series over Navy 81-13-1 and Notre Dame prevailed in 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Midshipmen last beat Notre Dame on Nov. 5, 2016.

Notre Dame beat Navy 50-10 in Ireland in 2012. Their meeting in 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Navy Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on during the second quarter against the UCF Knights at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo joins UCLA in advisory role

Ken Niumatalolo, who served as head coach at Navy for the past 15 seasons, was hired by UCLA as the football program’s “director of leadership” on Friday.

Niumatalolo is Navy’s all-time winningest head coach, with a 109-83 record, and is the winningest head coach in the Army-Navy series with 10 victories. He was the first head coach in the history of the service academies’ rivalry to win eight straight installments.

Navy fired Niumatalolo, 57, after December’s loss in the Army-Navy Game. The Midshipmen went 4-8 in 2022 and 11-23 over the past three seasons.

In his position with UCLA, Niumatalolo will fill an advisory role to both student-athletes and the coaching staff.

He told ESPN in an interview that he was excited to work with UCLA coach Chip Kelly. The Bruins went 9-4 last season and will join the Big Ten in 2024.

“He’s an established coach, he’s not threatened by me or anything, he’s not worried about somebody looking over his shoulder,” Niumatalolo told ESPN. “That’s how Chip looks at it — anything I can add. They’re not far off, whatever I can bring, but it just felt right.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 14, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Navy mascot on the field during pregame ceremonies before the Army Navy game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Navy to promote DC Brian Newberry to head coach

Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry is expected to be named the next head coach at the academy, ESPN reported Monday, saying an “announcement is expected in the near future.”

He served as the defensive coordinator for former coach Ken Niumatolo the past four seasons.

Niumatolo was fired after 15 seasons following Navy’s loss to Army earlier this month. He had a 109-83 record.

Newberry was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, in 2019. That season, Navy was 11-2 and ranked No. 16 in total defense in the nation, up from No. 86 the prior season.

He instilled his “Get 6” philosophy at Annapolis, challenging his defensive unit to strive for a combination of six three-and-outs, fourth down stops, turnovers and defensive touchdowns in a game. In his first season, the Midshipmen were 8-0 when they achieved that goal.

Newberry’s previous coaching stops include Kennesaw State, Northern Michigan, Elon, Washington & Lee and University of the South.

He played collegiately at Baylor and graduated in 1998.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Cade Ballard (18) carries the ball over Navy Midshipmen lineman Jacob Busic (95) during the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

In 123rd meeting, Army edges Navy on field goal in second OT

Quinn Maretzki kicked a 39-yard field goal in the second overtime to give Army a 20-17 victory over Navy in the 123rd edition of the storied rivalry on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pa.

The game winner came after Army’s Austin Hill forced a fumble by Navy’s Anton Hall Jr. and Darius Richardson recovered for the Black Knights at the 1-yard line of the Midshipmen.

It was the fifth win in the last seven meetings in the series for Army (6-6) and came despite the Black Knights completing just 2 of 12 passes.

Navy (4-8) still leads the series 62-54-7. It was the first of the 123 games in the series to go to overtime.

Army struck first in the extra session as Markel Johnson bolted 25 yards on the opening play for a 17-10 lead.

But Navy countered immediately with its first completion of the game, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Xavier Arline to a wide-open Marquel Haywood.

Late in regulation, Navy appeared on the verge of closing out the game but a 15-yard pass interference penalty gave Army a first down at the Mids 28. Four plays later, Maretzki’s 37-yard field goal with 1:53 left sent it to overtime.

Both defenses were stout. Navy held Army to 153 yards and 10 first downs. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen managed to gain 284 yards and 11 first downs.

Army’s lone touchdown of regulation came at the end of the first half when Noah Short blocked a punt and Jabril Williams recovered in the back of the end zone for a 7-3 lead.

Navy regained the advantage in the third quarter, 10-7 as Hall, on his second carry of the game, blew the lid off the defensive standoff with a 77-yard touchdown run on a trap play.

In the first half, Navy dominated possession but the defense of Army stiffened when backed into its own territory. The Black Knights halted the first two Midshipmen possessions after Navy drove inside the Army 40.

The field position the Mids achieved finally paid off on their third possession, which didn’t produce a first down but did finish with a 44-yard field goal by Bijan Nichols.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Braden Lenzy (0) toss a Navy Midshipmen defender during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Pyne leads No. 20 Notre Dame to decisive win over Navy

Drew Pyne accounted for five total touchdowns as No. 20 Notre Dame defeated Navy 35-32 in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.

Pyne completed 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown for the Fighting Irish (7-3), who have gone 6-1 since opening the season with back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Marshall.

Pyne and Notre Dame scored all 35 points in the first half and seemed to be in cruise control in the second half as Navy furiously pushed back but had its comeback bid ended after it failed to recover an onside kick with 1:21 remaining.

Daba Fofana rushed for 133 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown for Navy (3-7). The loss locked in a losing season for Navy, which will need to win out and get outside help for any hope of bowl eligibility this season.

Notre Dame’s offense clicked early. On the opening drive, Pyne connected with Audric Estime on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Pyne then connected with Braden Lenzy on a 38-yard pass that made it 14-0 with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter.

Fofana countered for Navy with a 36-yard rushing touchdown with 2:19 remaining, making it 14-6 after a missed extra point.

Notre Dame then outscored Navy 21-7 in the second quarter to seemingly take full control of the contest.

Pyne connected for passing touchdowns of Chris Tyree and Jayden Thomas, while also adding his own 11-yard rushing score. Even with a 2-yard touchdown run by Navy’s Xavier Arline, the halftime score had ballooned to 35-13.

Bijan Nichols did connect on a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter for Navy, which made it 35-16.

A change-of-pace pass led to a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter for Navy, cutting the deficit to 35-24 as Mark Walker ran uncovered down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown pass from Arline.

Arline was later injured and left the game in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback Maasai Maynor capped another Navy scoring drive with a 20-yard strike to Maquel Haywood with 1:21 remaining, setting up an onside kick that Notre Dame snuffed out to seal the win.

–Field Level Media