Setting the Stage
• Navy and San Jose State will meet for the third time on the gridiron when the two square off on Friday night at Spartan Stadium (30,456) in San Jose. Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm local time, 9:30 pm in Annapolis.
• Friday’s game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play), Danny Kanell (color) and Allison Willliams (sideline) on the call.
Navy Tops South Alabama 42-14 To Become Bowl Eligible
• (AP) – Darius Staten made his final home appearance a memorable one with a career-high 127 yards on seven carries with a touchdown to lead Navy to a 42-14 victory over South Alabama.
• The Mids, who scored 22 consecutive points in the second half, 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 touchdown passes to Shavarez Smith, who had five receptions for 65 yards.
• Brandon Bridge replaced Metheny at quarterback 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 Keenan Reynolds to Matt Aiken.
• 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.
• 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’sChris 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.
Navy Qualifies For Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
• Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced after Saturday’s victory over South Alabama that the Naval Academy has qualified to play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Monday, Dec. 30 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas against a projected opponent from the Mountain West. Kickoff is set for 10:45 am in Fort Worth (11:45 am in Annapolis) and will be televised nationally by ESPN. This will be Navy’s 10th bowl game in the last 11 seasons.
• This will be Navy’s fifth trip to Texas for a bowl game and the first since Navy’s 35-13 rout of Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl in Houston. Navy also played in the 2003 EV1.net Houston Bowl (lost to Texas Tech, 38-14), the 1964 Cotton Bowl in Dallas (lost to Texas, 28-6) and the 1958 Cotton Bowl in Dallas (beat Rice, 20-7).
• Tickets for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl are on sale now at: http://bit.ly/17zldT1
• Tickets can also be purchased starting Monday morning at 9 a.m. by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or at the Ricketts Hall Ticket Office.
• Ticket prices are $30 (Lower Level & Upper Level End Zone), $40 (Upper Level Sideline), and $50 (Lower Level Sideline). The only way to sit with the Navy contingent is to buy your tickets through the Navy Ticket Office.
• Fans can also purchase tickets to sponsor midshipmen and enlisted personnel and their families for $50 per ticket. Donated tickets are 100% tax deductible.
• The Naval Academy class that donates the most tickets receives a 30% discount on football season tickets for 2014 for every member that donates four or more tickets. Any individual that donates 10 tickets or more will receive a 30% discount on the 2014 season ticket package regardless of class affiliation. Be sure to donate in your correct ticket account that signifies you as a USNA Alumni.
• “We strongly encourage Navy fans to buy their bowl tickets directly from the Naval Academy Athletic Association,” said Gladchuk. “It is very important for this game and for future Navy bowl considerations for our fans to purchase tickets through the NAAA. If you can’t make it to the game, we ask that Navy fans buy tickets for our midshipmen and enlisted personnel which will allow us to create the usual pageantry of Navy football.”
• Anthony Travel is the official Naval Academy Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl travel agency. Travel packages include hotel accommodations at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel (Navy team hotel). Visit http://bit.ly/1csCTT5 and search Navy Bowl or call (888) 632-6951 to make your reservations.
Scouting San Jose State
• The Spartans enter Friday’s game with a 5-5 record and in need of one victory in the next two games to become bowl eligible. San Jose State owns victories over Sacramento State (24-0), Hawai’i (37-27), Colorado State (34-27), Wyoming (51-44) and UNLV (34-24). Its losses have come at the hands of Stanford (34-13), Minnesota (43-24), Utah State (40-12), San Diego State (34-30) and Nevada (38-16).
• San Jose State is led by senior quarterback David Fales, who is a probable first-round draft pick. Fales has completed 60 percent of his passes (233-386) for 3,202 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Fales is 12th in the country in completions per game (23.3), eighth in passing yards per game (320.2) and 14th in total offense per game (317.6).
• The Spartans are 11th in the country in passing offense, averaging 325.4 yards per game and are 22nd in the country in passing yards per completion, averaging 13.7.
• Senior wide receiver Chandler Jones has been Fales’ favorite target as he has caught 64 passes for 1,109 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jones is fifth in the nation in touchdown catches (11) and seventh in receiving yards per game (110.9). His 6.4 catches per game ranks 25th best in the country.
• Freshman running back Jarrod Lawson has carried the ball 124 times for 646 yards with three touchdowns.
• Senior linebacker Keith Smith is one of the top linebackers in the country. He has recorded 137 tackles and eight tackles for a loss on the year and his 13.7 tackles per game is No. 1 in the country. Smith is averaging 6.9 solo tackles per game, which stands third in the country (just behind Navy’s Cody Peterson). Freshman linebacker Christian Tago has recorded 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
• Senior corner Bene Benwikere has picked off five passes and broken up 10 more passes on the year. He is ranked seventh in the country in interceptions per game (0.6) and fourth in the country in passes broken up per game (1.7).
• Sophomore kicker Austin Lopez is one of the top kickers in the country, making 19 of his 23 field goal attempts and all 28 of his extra-point attempts. Lopez is second in the country in field goals per game, averaging 1.9 per contest.
• San Jose State has lost just five fumbles on the year, which ranks 18th in the country.
Navy vs. The Mountain West
• Navy is 22-34 (.393) all-time against teams currently residing in the Mountain West Conference and is 2-0 this year with victories over Air Force and Hawai’i. Navy will play a fourth Mountain West Conference team on Dec. 30 in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
• The Mids have played six – Air Force, Colorado State, Hawai’i, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State – of the 12 teams that make up the Mountain West.
Niumatalolo Passes Paul Johnson For Third At Navy In Career Wins
• Ken Niumatalolo has led the Midshipmen to a 46-30 (.605) record in his six seasons as the head coach. He is third all-time at Navy in career wins.
• Niumatalolo holds Navy coaching records for most wins in the first two seasons (18), three seasons (27), four seasons (32), five seasons (40) and sixth seasons (46) of a career.
• Niumatalolo is the first Samoan head football coach on the collegiate level and the second Polynesian head coach in FBS history (Larry Price, who was the head coach at Hawai’i from 1974-76, was the first).
• Niumatalolo was recently selected as a member of the inaugural class for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Celebrating Navy’s Seniors
• The Class of 2014 has compiled a 28-20 (.583) record over four seasons in Annapolis, qualified for three bowl games and won two Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies.
• With a victory over Army on Dec. 14, the senior class would win its third Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy in four years.
• Navy’s 22 seniors include: wide receiver and co-captain Matt Aiken, wide receiver Casey Bolena, nose guard Travis Bridges, nose guard Barry Dabney, corner Albrey Felder, punter Justin Haan, wide receiver Brantley Horton, defensive end Michael Huf, wide receiver Shawn Lynch, guard Eric Mahler, wide receiver Hayden Maples, defensive end Evan Palelei, linebacker and co-captain Cody Peterson, safety Wave Ryder, outside linebacker DJ Sargenti, slot back Darius Staten, offensive guard Thomas Stone, slot back Marcus Thomas, linebacker Michael Tuimavave, offensive tackle Matthew Van Halanger, offensive tackle Graham Vickers and offensive tackle Sam Womack.
The Red Zone
• Navy has scored on 40 of its 45 possessions (.889) in the red zone this year, scoring 33 touchdowns (.733), kicking seven field goals, missing two field goals, taking a knee to end the game in Navy’s 51-7 victory over Delaware and losing it on downs. The Mids are ranked 25th in the country in red zone offense.
• The opposition has scored on 27 of its 35 red zone opportunities (.771), scoring 25 touchdowns (.714), kicking two field goals, throwing two interceptions, stopped on downs tweice, took a knee once (Duke) and missed three field goals. Navy is ranked 30th in the country in red zone defense.
Inside Linebackers Cleaning Up On Tackles
• Navy senior inside linebackers Cody Peterson and DJ Sargenti have been all over the field for the Navy defense this season.
• Peterson, the Mids’ defensive captain, is No. 2 in the country in solo tackles per game, averaging 7.4 per contest, and is tied for eighth nationally in total tackles, averaging 10.6 per contest.
• Sargenti, who had never even recorded a tackle prior to this year and wasn’t moved to inside linebacker (was a QB as a freshman and OLB as a sophomore and junior) until the start of fall practice, is 39th in the country in solo tackles, averaging 5.3 per game, and 95th in total tackles averaging 7.9 per contest.