South Alabama at Navy

Navy tops South Alabama 42-14, qualifies for bowl


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo had to stop his post-game news conference several times to regain his composure after he choked up talking about his 22 seniors playing their last home game in Annapolis.

Darius Staten made his last home appearance a memorable one with a career-high 127 yards on seven carries with a touchdown to lead the Midshipmen to a 42-14 victory over South Alabama on Saturday night.

With the win, the Midshipmen qualified for a bowl game for the 10th time in the past 11 years. Navy (6-4) will accept a bid to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 30 against a team from the Mountain West Conference.

''I'm so happy for us our guys because there are so many things that are hard here for them to be able qualify for something like that,'' Niumatalolo said. ''I mean it's hard to win games. It's just a tremendous accomplishment by our players. I just couldn't be more happy for them.''

The Midshipmen, who scored 22 consecutive points in the second half, also finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2004.

South Alabama's Ross Metheny completed 18 of 27 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns. Both touchdown passes were to Shavarez Smith, who had five receptions for 65 yards for the Bengals (3-6).

Brandon Bridge replaced Metheny at quarterback for the Bengals and put together a 20-play, 89-yard drive that was stalled at the Navy 4 when Kendall Houston was stuffed by Cody Peterson on fourth-and-2 with 11:12 left in the game. Navy then put the game away on the next possession on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Reynolds to Matt Aiken.

''I had a feeling they were going to run the ball with that guy because he runs pretty hard,'' Peterson said. ''I kind of just shot the gap. I didn't really read it that much. I got lucky I guess.''

Navy backup quarterback Tago Smith added another 24-yard scoring run with 2:17 left for the 42-14 lead. The Mids racked up 519 total yards, with 351 coming from the rushing attack.

''It's amazing,'' Staten said. ''It's pretty much an unbelievable feeling. It shows how much the underclassmen really care about us. They gave it everything they had for us to win the game today.''

Navy opened an early 3-0 lead on its first possession with a 37-yard field goal by Nick Sloan. The Jaguars then responded with a 14-play, 78-yard scoring drive, capped by a 4-yard pass from Metheny to Smith.

Staten then gave Navy a 10-7 lead with 13:24 left in the half with a 17-yard touchdown run. After being helped by a roughing the passer penalty on Navy's Chris Johnson, South Alabama went ahead again when Metheny and Smith teamed up for a 22-yard touchdown.

The shootout continued on the next possession as Navy scored again on a 7-yard run by Shawn White, who carried three defenders into the end zone. The Mids increased the lead to 20-14 with 34 seconds remaining in the half on a 21-yard field goal by Sloan.

''Against that team, you need to put up points and you need to put up points often,'' said South Alabama coach Joey Jones, whose team suffered its most lopsided loss of the season. ''When you get behind Navy, you feel like you are playing catch-up the entire game. Then, they keep the ball and constantly keep moving down the field with their running game. They are a very good football team and we knew that coming in.''

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Scoring Summary
NAVYNick Sloan 37 yd FG
SALAShavarez Smith 4 yd pass from Ross Metheny (Aleem Sunanon kick)
NAVYDarius Staten 17 yd run (Nick Sloan kick)
SALAShavarez Smith 22 yd pass from Ross Metheny (Aleem Sunanon kick)
NAVYShawn White 7 yd run (Nick Sloan kick)
NAVYNick Sloan 21 yd FG
NAVYKeenan Reynolds 1 yd run (Nick Sloan kick)
NAVYMatt Aiken 45 yd pass from Keenan Reynolds (Matt Aiken 2pt pass from Keenan Reynolds)
NAVYTago Smith 24 yd run (Nick Sloan kick)
Team Stats
First Downs1928
Third Down Efficiency5-155-10
Fourth Down Efficiency3-51-1
Plays-Net Yards72-30068-519
Passing Yds180168
Kick Return Yds12946
Punt Return Yds38
Time of Poss.28:2331:37
Individual Stats
SALA: Kendall Houston 11-36, Jay Jones 7-31, Ross Metheny 9-23, Brandon Bridge 4-20, Trey Fetner 1-13, Julien Valentin 1-3, Team 1--1, Terrance Timmons 2--5
NAVY: Darius Staten 7-127, Keenan Reynolds 17-59, Marcus Thomas 4-40, Tago Smith 3-38, Shawn White 6-34, Geoffrey Whiteside 4-17, Demond Brown 1-14, Quinton Singleton 4-11, DeBrandon Sanders 1-9, Quentin Ezell 2-5, Team 2--3
SALA: Ross Metheny 18-27-160-0, Brandon Bridge 3-9-20-0
NAVY: Keenan Reynolds 10-17-168-0
SALA: Shavarez Smith 5-65, Wes Saxton 5-48, Jereme Jones 3-19, Bryant Lavender 2-13, Jay Jones 2-12, Corey Waldon 1-11, Kendall Houston 1-5, T.J. Glover 1-4, Jake Howton 1-3
NAVY: Matt Aiken 2-50, Geoffrey Whiteside 2-33, Casey Bolena 2-31, Shawn Lynch 1-19, DeBrandon Sanders 1-17, Jamir Tillman 1-11, Brendan Dudeck 1-7
South Alabama8th Sun Belt 2-66-7
Navy1st American Athletic West7-19-5

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