- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

From combined dispatches

AREA

NAVY 16, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 0: Quarterback Ricky Dobbs scored a touchdown and ran for 124 yards in his first collegiate start Tuesday night to lead the visiting Midshipmen (7-4) to a victory against the Huskies (6-6) in DeKalb, Ill.

Navy scored on its first two possessions and held the ball for more than 17 minutes in the first half as it beat Northern Illinois for the second straight year.

Dobbs, a sophomore who carried the ball 25 times, fumbled at the Navy 9 on his team’s first play. He alertly recovered the loose ball and led the Midshipmen on an 81-yard drive capped by Matt Harmon’s 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

Nearly nine minutes later, Dobbs finished a 10-play, 85-yard second quarter drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“Other than that [fumble], it was like everything we’ve been working on in practice,” said Dobbs, the sixth Navy quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards in his first start. “Unfortunately we couldn’t put up more points, but we were moving at will.”

In the third quarter, Navy safety Emmett Merchant picked off a pass from Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish and returned it 29 yards into Northern Illinois territory. Ten plays later, Navy went up 16-0 on Eric Kettani’s 1-yard TD run with 2:21 remaining in the period.

“I thought Ricky played solid,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We just wanted to make sure he took care of the ball, and I thought he did that. Overall, I think our offense did a great job of controlling the ball and making the best of all our possessions.”

Dobbs credited the defense for the offense’s success.

“The key stops allowed us to settle down and take our time to score,” he said.

Kettani rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries, and Harnish led Northern Illinois with 14 carries for 65 yards. He was 14-for-24 for 116 yards passing.

The Midshipmen clinched a winning season with two games to play, including the annual showdown with Army on Dec. 6 in Philadelphia. Navy also will play in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 20 at RFK Stadium.

Northern Illinois’ slim bowl hopes were dashed.

AP TOP 25

No. 15 BALL STATE 45, W. MICHIGAN 22: MiQuale Lewis ran for three touchdowns, setting a single-season school record, and Nate Davis threw for one score and ran for another to help the Cardinals (12-0, 8-0 MAC) remain one of the nation’s four undefeated teams with a victory against the visiting Broncos (9-3, 6-2) in Muncie, Ind.

Ball State completed its first perfect regular season since 1949 - its first undefeated season in MAC play since 1978 - and clinched a spot in the conference title game. They will face Buffalo on Dec. 5 in Detroit with a chance to win their first league championship since 1996.

Not surprisingly, Davis and Lewis were the crux of Western Michigan’s problems. Davis exposed the Broncos’ holes in the secondary, Lewis kept the offense balanced and Trey Lewis’ 35-yard interception return late in the third quarter sealed it.

Western Michigan just couldn’t keep pace with Ball State and has lost six of the past eight in this series.

With a party atmosphere in Muncie, the Cardinals weren’t about to be derailed. A school-record 11,088 students attended the game and fans waved white towels. One fan even brought a sign that summed up the season: “Perfect-O.”

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