GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Keenan Reynolds rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two more, and Navy had a season-high 563 total yards in a 56-28 rout of East Carolina on Saturday.
Gee Gee Greene had 131 yards rushing while Reynolds scored on runs of 1, 1 and 2 yards. The Midshipmen quarterback also had TD throws of 15 yards to Casey Bolena and 20 yards to Geoffrey Whiteside while improving to 3-0 as Navy's starter.
Marcus Thomas added a 17-yard touchdown run and Noah Copeland scored from 5 yards out for Navy. The Midshipmen (5-3) rolled up a season-best 512 yards rushing and won their fourth straight. Playing on a field that was soaked because of the approaching Tropical Storm Sandy, Navy scored on eight of its 11 possessions.
Vintavious Cooper rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown and Reggie Bullock added two touchdown runs for the Pirates (5-4).
East Carolina was favored by a field goal and entered with one of Conference USA's top defenses, but gave up a season high in yards rushing well before halftime. It was Navy's biggest day both on the ground and on the scoreboard since its last visit to Greenville in 2010 — when it had 521 yards rushing in a 76-35 rout.
Navy pulled away by scoring the first five times it touched the ball in the second half. Reynolds ran in from 2 yards out to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Lance Ray fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Whiteside recovered at the East Carolina 29. Four plays later, Reynolds hit Bolena over the middle for just his second completion of the day to make it 35-14 with 8:09 left in the third. He added a 1-yard scoring sneak to push it to 42-14.
Reynolds's earlier 1-yard scoring run put the Midshipmen ahead for good at 21-14 with 2:04 to go before the break, and capped a first half in which their triple-option offense was nearly unstoppable except when they stopped themselves.
Navy gained positive yardage on all but four offensive plays in the half — including the final snap, when Reynolds took a knee — and its 244 yards rushing at the break were nearly 100 more than the most the Pirates had allowed in any full game this season.
East Carolina turned Navy's only mistake — Chip Thompson picked off Reynolds in the end zone — into the 2-yard touchdown run by Bullock that briefly tied it at 14. It came after Shane Carden pulled the Pirates to within 14-7 with a 9-yard scoring pass to Justin Hardy on the first play of the second quarter.
Carden finished 19 of 29 for 194 yards with an interception.
Navy was clicking early, producing touchdowns on its first two possessions. First, an untouched Thomas capped the Midshipmen's opening series by bursting through the right side to make it 7-0. Navy then went up by two touchdowns for the first time with 4½ minutes left in the first quarter on Copeland's 5-yard scoring run.
By Elaine Donnelly
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