||Navy (4-3) at East Carolina (5-3)
|Date and Kickoff
||Oct. 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm ET
||Greenville, N.C. | Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000)
||Fox College Sports
||Adam Alexander (play-by-play), Gary Reasons (analyst), Leslie McCaslin (sideline)
Setting the Stage
• Navy and East Carolina will meet on the gridiron for the fourth time when they square off Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000). Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm.
• East Carolina won last year’s game in a thriller, 38-35, on Homecoming in Annapolis. Back-up quarterback Trey Miller came off the bench to throw 59 and 37-yard touchdown passes to give Navy a 35-31 lead, but ECU won the game on a three-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bullock with 2:14 left to play.
• Navy’s last trip to Greenville resulted in a 76-35 victory over East Carolina on Nov. 6, 2010.
• Navy enters the weekend having won three consecutive games overall and two straight on the road. The last time Navy won four in a row came at the end of the 2010 season when the Mids won at East Carolina, beat Central Michigan and Arkansas State at home and then beat Army in Philadelphia. Navy last won three straight road games in 2009 when the Mids won at Wake Forest, at Air Force and at Northern Illinois.
• Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by Fox College Sports with Adam Alexander, Gary Reasons and Leslie McCaslin calling the action.
Scouting East Carolina
• The Pirates are 5-3 on the year with victories over Appalachian State (35-13), Southern Miss (24-14), UTEP (28-18), Memphis (41-7) and UAB (42-35). The Pirates have lost to South Carolina (48-10), North Carolina (27-6) and UCF (40-20).
• Quarterback Shane Carden has completed 141 of his 219 passes for 1,685 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
• Carden’s favorite target is wide receiver Justin Hardy, who has 51 catches for 749 yards and eight touchdowns. Hardy is tied for 18th in the country in receiving yards per game (93.6).
• Running back Vintavious Cooper is the leading rusher with 630 yards on 111 carries with three touchdowns.
• The defense is led by Jeremy Grove, who has 55 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. Damon Magazu has recorded 48 tackles and two pass break-ups.
• ECU ranks 103rd in the country in rushing offense (117.5), 41st in passing offense (265.0), 78th in total offense (382.5) and 77th in scoring offense (25.8).
• The Pirates rank 32nd in rush defense (123.1), 102nd in pass defense (269.5), 61st in total defense (392.6) and 56th in scoring defense (25.3).
The Last Time …
East Carolina 38, Navy 35 OCT. 22, 2011 | ANNAPOLIS, MD.
• East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis completed 40 of his 45 pass attempts for 372 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pirates to a 38-35 victory over Navy in front of 34,612 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Homecoming.
• Davis completed an NCAA-record 26-consecutive passes to start the game as the Pirates built a 17-7 halftime advantage thanks to touchdown passes of three yards to Lance Lewis and 10 yards to Michael Bowman.
• The Mids lost starting quarterback Kriss Proctor to an injured left elbow midway through the second quarter when he was hit late by East Carolina’s Matt Milner. Proctor was replaced by sophomore Trey Miller, who moved the ball down to the ECU 38-yard line before fumbling the snap and East Carolina’s Michael Brooks recovered it. ECU would score a touchdown on the ensuing series.
• Navy’s Marcus Thomas returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to cut the ECU lead to 17-14. It was Navy’s first kickoff return for a TD since Reggie Campbell returned one against Army in 2007. Meanwhile, it was the fourth-longest return in school history.
• After the Pirates answered with a one-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bullock, the Mids cut the lead to three again when Alexander Teich took the toss from Miller and scored from the one to make the score 24-21.
• Bullock, however, would answer again for East Carolina, this time scoring on a 13-yard run with 14:53 left in the game.
• Navy would come right back and make it 31-28 when Miller hit Brandon Turner with a 59-yard touchdown pass. The Mids took their first lead of the game since going up 7-0 when Miller threw a strike to Matt Aiken for a 37-yard touchdown pass to give Navy a 35-31 lead with 7:51 left.
• ECU took the ensuing kickoff and marched 77 yards in 15 plays, milking 5:37 off the clock, and took a 38-35 lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Bullock.
• The Mids got the ball back at their own 28 with 2:14 left and Miller quickly went to work.
• On the most controversial call of the game, Miller hit Aiken down the left sideline at the two-yard line on third down. Aiken made a spectacular grab, secured the ball, got two feet down, turned and dove over the goal line. After breaking the plane, he landed a yard inside the end zone and the ball came loose. The officials on the field called it an incomplete pass, however Navy challenged the ruling on the field. The official in the replay booth confirmed the ruling on the field setting up a third-and-10. Miller hit Aiken over the middle for eight yards with 22 seconds left giving Navy plenty of time to get the field goal team on the field.
• With eight seconds left, the field goal team was in place. Teague got the ball off fast and high, but it clanged off the right goal post, sending the Mids to their fifth-straight loss.
Navy Vs. Conference USA
• Navy is 25-28-1 (.472) all-time against teams currently in Conference USA.
• Navy, Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are all future members of the BIG EAST.
The Tar Heel State
• Navy has 12 players from the state of North Carolina on its roster.
• Sophomore corner Eric Johnson (Fayetteville), sophomore quarterback Greg Bryant (Fayetteville), junior wide receiverHayden Maples (Raleigh), freshman corner Myer Krah (Durham), sophomore safety Chris Ferguson (Angier), freshman slot back Jamaal Williams (Durham), junior wide receiver Brantley Horton (Cleveland), sophomore outside linebackerObi Uzoma (Wake Forest), senior defensive end Collin Sturdivant, junior offensive tackle Adam Geuss (Charlotte), senior offensive tackle Andrew Barker (High Point) and senior wide receiver John O’Boyle (Charlotte).
Navy Quick Hitters
• Opening the year against Notre Dame in Dublin and at Penn State was the toughest opening two games in school history.
• In the last 40 years, Navy has started the year with two opponents from BCS conferences just eight times and only twice (2005 and 1982) did the Mids go on to have a winning record.
• Navy has been the dominant Service Academy over the last decade going 18-2 against Army (10-0) and Air Force (8-2), winning seven-consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies from 2003-09 and going to eight straight bowl games from 2003-10.
• Navy will join the BIG EAST for football only starting in 2015.
• Since 2003, Navy has won 19 games against schools from a BCS conference. The 19 wins against BCS schools during that time period are the most in the country by a non-BCS school. Navy’s wins against BCS schools have come against Vanderbilt (`03, `04), Duke (`04, `05, `06, `07), Rutgers (`04, `08), Stanford (`06), Connecticut (`06), Pitt (`07), Notre Dame (`07, `09, `10), Wake Forest (`08, `09, `10), Missouri (`09) and Indiana (`12).
• Navy’s three losses this season (Notre Dame, Penn State and San Jose State) have come at the hands of opponents that are a combined 17-4 (.810) on the year. Notre Dame (7-0) is currently ranked fifth in the country, while Penn State (5-2) is receiving votes in the AP Poll (it is ineligible for the USA Today/Coaches Poll). San Jose State (5-2) was receiving votes before being knocked off by Utah State, 49-27, two week ago.
• Navy’s victory over Indiana last Saturday was the Mids’ first over a Big Ten opponent since winning at Illinois in 1979 and the first win over a Big Ten opponent in Annapolis since defeating Purdue in 1926.
• Navy has 12 players from the state of North Carolina on its roster.
• Navy is 25-28-1 (.472) all-time against teams currently in Conference USA.
• Over the last 11 years, Navy has consistently been one of the nation’s top rushing teams, never finishing lower than sixth. The Mids are currently 13th in the country in rushing (236.7).
• The Navy defense has given up just 79 points over the last five games (20 quarters plus one overtime), allowing three points to VMI, 12 to San Jose State, 21 to Air Force, 13 to Central Michigan and 30 to Indiana. It is the fewest points allowed over a five-game stretch since 2009.
• For the seventh year in a row, the Naval Academy finished in the top five in the country for graduating NCAA student-athletes on the FBS level. Navy graduated 100 percent of its student-athletes in six of the 20 NCAA sports reported. Overall, 96 percent of Navy’s student-athletes that enrolled from 2000-03 graduated.
• Senior outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT and is believed to be the only current FBS player in the country to accomplish such a feat. He carries a 3.89 GPA in systems engineering and is an Academic All-America candidate and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year candidate. Wetzel has also been a force on the field for the Midshipmen, recording 36 tackles, a team-high 8.5 tackles for a loss and a team-high four sacks. He has also recovered a fumble and broken up a pass.
• Keenan Reynolds is the first freshman to start at quarterback for Navy since Jim Kubiak started five games in 1991 and is just the third freshman in school history to start at quarterback (the other was Alton Grizzard in 1987). Reynolds is 2-0 as a starting quarterback with wins over Central Michigan and Indiana. Kubiak won just one game as a freshman starter and Grizzard won two.
• Navy has played 12 true freshmen so far this year, which is tied as the ninth most in the country.
• Navy has had 17 players make their first career starts this fall, which is the fourth most in the country.
• Sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is off to a great start in 2012, averaging 45.1 yards per punt (25 punts). He would stand 10th in the country in punting if he qualified (must average 3.1 punts per game).
• Freshman Nick Sloan is one of just 16 true freshman kickers starting in the FBS this year. He is 7-for-7 on field goals and 17-for-17 on extra-points. He is one of just two kickers in the country that has not missed a kick all year (field goals or extra-points). The other is Jeremy Shelly of No. 1-ranked Alabama.
• Navy owns a 6-3 record all-time in overtime games, winning six of its last seven.
• Navy owns a 79-43 (.648) record over the last 10 years after posting a 3-30 (.091) mark from 2000-02. The 79 wins are tied as the 21st most in the county during that time period.
• Senior guard Josh Cabral and slot back Gee Gee Greene have started 32 consecutive games for the Midshipmen, while senior linebacker Matt Warrick has started 21 in a row and senior safety Tra’ves Bush 17 straight.
• Navy has turned the ball over 12 times this season (nine lost fumbles and three interceptions) after committing just 15 turnovers in 2011 (nine lost fumbles and six interceptions). The Mids have not turned the ball over in the last three games.
• Navy is 28-4 (.875) under Ken Niumatalolo when scoring first and 8-20 (.286) when the opponent scores first.
• Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 22-3 (.880) when leading after the first quarter and 14-21 (.400) when trailing or tied after the first stanza.
• Navy owns a 17-7 (.708) record in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under Niumatalolo and is 19-17 (.528) away from home.
• Niumatalolo holds Navy coaching records for most wins in the first two seasons (18), three seasons (27) and four seasons (32) of a career.
• Jordan Drake’s 24-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana was Navy’s second interception return for a touchdown this year. Matt Warrick had a seven-yard interception return for a touchdown against VMI in the third game of the season.
• The two defensive scores are the most by a Navy defense in the same season since 2008 when Navy had three defensive touchdowns (Ram Vela interception return against Army, Clint Sovie fumble return against Temple andRashawn King fumble return against Wake Forest).
• It is the first time that Navy has returned two interceptions for a touchdown in the same season since 2004 when David Mahoney (Rutgers) and Josh Smith (Army) turned the trick.
Looking For Four-Straight Wins
• Navy will be looking to win its fourth consecutive game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season when the Midshipmen won four in a row to end the regular season (76-35 over East Carolina, 38-37 over Central Michigan, 35-19 over Arkansas State and 31-17 over Army) .
Keeping The Opponents Off The Scoreboard
• The Navy defense has given up just 79 points over the last five games (20 quarters plus one overtime), allowing three points to VMI, 12 to San Jose State, 21 to Air Force, 13 to Central Michigan and 30 to Indiana.
• It is the fewest points Navy has allowed over a five-game stretch since 2009 when the Mids surrendered a combined 79 points to Notre Dame (21), Delaware (18), Hawai’i (24), Army (3) and Missouri (13).
Navy vs. the BCS / Non-BCS
• Since 2003, Navy has won 19 games against schools from a BCS conference. The 19 wins against BCS schools during that time period, which have come against 10 different teams, are the most in the country by a non-BCS school.
• Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo has eight wins against teams from a BCS conference since taking over the program at the end of the 2007 season.
• Navy’s 19 wins against BCS schools have come against Vanderbilt (`03, `04), Duke (`04, `05, `06, `07), Rutgers (`04, `08), Stanford (`06), Connecticut (`06), Pitt (`07), Notre Dame (`07, `09, `10), Wake Forest (`08, `09, `10), Missouri (`09) and Indiana (`12).
• Freshman Nick Sloan beat out five other kickers in preseason camp to earn the job as Navy’s kicker on field goals and PATs. He made his first career field goal attempt from 26 yards against Notre Dame and also made his only PAT attempt.
• He is 7-for-7 on field goals and 17-for-17 on extra-points for the year. He is one of only two kickers in the country that has not missed a kick (extra point or field goal) this fall. The other is Jeremy Shelly, the starting kicker for No. 1-ranked Alabama.
• Sloan is one of just 16 true freshman kickers starting in the FBS this year. His 38 points are tied for the ninth most by a freshman this season.
• He is the first freshman to start at kicker for Navy since 1996 when Tim Shubzda started multiple games, including the opener against Rutgers. Shubzda connected on four-of-six field goal attempts and all six of his PAT’s as a freshman, splitting time with Jason Covarubbias and Tom Vanderhorst.
• Navy lost five games in 2011 by a total of 11 points. The five losses by eight points or less were tied for the fifth most in the country and cost the Mids a ninth-consecutive bowl game.
• The Mids are 2-0 this year in close encounters, knocking off Air Force by seven in overtime and beating Indiana by one.
• The Mids are 16-13 (.552) under head coach Ken Niumatalolo in games decided by eight points or less.