ANNAPOLIS | Navy cornerback Rashawn King appeared to save the Midshipmen from a blowout when he intercepted a pass by Pittsburgh quarterback Bill Stull in the end zone in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. Turns out he was just delaying the inevitable.
For the second straight year, the Mids had no answer for Pitt star running back LeSean McCoy, who carried the No. 23 Panthers to a 42-21 rout in front of a record 37,970 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
McCoy had a good day’s worth of production in the first half alone, when he had 14 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore finished with 156 yards and three touchdowns.
“You have to give them credit,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Their two stars played well. We had a hard time blocking [linebacker Scott] McKillop and we had a hard time tackling McCoy.”
Navy struggled on both sides of the ball for most of the afternoon. The defense, which had shown improvement each week during Navy’s three game winning streak, looked more like the porous unit that gave up a combined 76 points in losses to Ball State and Duke earlier in the season. The Panthers, who haven’t lost since dropping their season opener to Bowling Green on Aug. 30, racked up 499 total yards.
“We didn’t give the offense a chance,” King said. “We didn’t come out to play. I think we could have done a lot better. Just stay on our assignments, that’s all we had to do.”
Navy’s offense also struggled, as it continued to underperform without starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who is still nursing a hamstring injury. The Mids needed just six plays before slotback Shun White (71 yards) scored from 40 yards out on their first drive. But quarterback Jarod Bryant fumbled deep in Navy territory on the Mids’ second drive, and Pitt scored three plays later. Bryant now has eight fumbles this season.
Navy (4-3) failed to establish fullback Eric Kettani (13 yards), and the triple-option offense sputtered the rest of the game.
“We couldn’t get nobody up to the middle linebacker; he was all over the place,” White said. “In our offense, if you don’t get the fullback going, it’s hard to get the pitch going. We just didn’t execute.”
The Mids didn’t score in the second half until sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs, whom Niumatalolo inserted with 2:45 remaining in the game, scored on a keeper with 20 seconds left.
The Panthers (5-1) were on the verge of taking a 28-7 lead when King jumped an out route and ran 91 yards down the sideline to the Pitt 8-yard line. Bryant scored on the next play, seemingly bringing the Mids back into the game.
But the Panthers responded with a seven-play, 49-yard scoring driving drive capped off with an 11-yard McCoy run.
The 35 points the Mids gave up in the first half was the most since they gave up 49 to North Texas last year. They escaped that game with a 74-62 win, but had no such luck Saturday.
“We had a chance to bust some plays,” Bryant said. “We were close, but we just couldn’t get it done.”