Navy battles Arizona State in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Saturday to close season

December 28, 2012 | WNST Staff

Date and Kickoff Dec. 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm PT / 4:00 ET
Location San Francisco, Calif. | AT&T Park (40,184)
Television ESPN2
TV Talent Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Jenn Brown (sideline)

Setting the Stage
• Arizona State and Navy will meet on the gridiron for the first time when they square off at AT&T Park in San Francisco in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.  Kickoff is set for 4:07 pm Eastern, 1:07 pm Pacific.
• Navy is 7-9-1 all-time in bowl games and 1-1-1 all-time against current Pac-12 schools in bowl games.  Navy tied Washington, 14-14, in the 1924 Rose Bowl; defeated California, 42-38, in the 1996 Aloha Bowl; and lost to Utah, 35-32, in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl. This will be Navy’s ninth bowl game in the last 10 years.
•    Navy has lost four of its last five bowl games. The only win was a 35-13 pounding of Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl.  The Mids have lost to Boston College (25-24 in the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl); Utah (35-32 in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl); Wake Forest (29-19 in the 2008 EagleBank Bowl) and San Diego State (35-14 in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl) during that time span.  Niumatalolo is 1-3 in bowl games.
• ESPN2 will televise the game nationally with Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Jenn Brown calling the action.
•    Touchdown Radio has the national radio call with Roxy Bernstein and Gino Toretta on the call.

Navy’s Last Trip to San Francisco … 
Navy 34, New Mexico 19    Dec. 30, 2004 | San Francisco, Calif.
•     Aaron Polanco accounted for four touchdowns and 237 yards of total offense as Navy defeated New Mexico, 34-19, in the 2004 Emerald Bowl.  The victory gave the Midshipmen a school-record tying 10 wins for the season and marked just the fifth bowl victory in school history.
• After the Lobos took a 7-0 lead on the first possesion of the game, the Mids answered with a touchdown drive of their own, moving 80 yards on just seven plays.  Polanco scored from 14 yards out to tie the game at seven.
• The game turned on the ensuing possession when safety Vaughn Kelley hit New Mexico’s DonTrell Moore just as he was catching a pitch.  The hit caused a fumble that was recovered by Lane Jackson and knocked Moore out of the game.
• Navy quickly took advantage of the turnover, as Polanco scored from one yard out five plays later to give Navy a 14-7 lead.  The touchdown was set up by a third-and-eight pass from slot back Frank Divis to Polanco for 17 yards
• Josh Smith stopped New Mexico’s next drive with an interception and the Mids made the Lobos pay dearly, as Polanco hit wide receiver Corey Dryden on the second play from scrimmage with a 61-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-7.
• After the two teams punted on their initial possessions of the third quarter, Polanco ran for his third touchdown of the day, this one from 27 yards out, to make the score 31-19.
• New Mexico, however, marched right back down the field.  The Lobos had the ball first-and-goal at the Navy six, but on fourth-and-goal from the one Lobo running back D.D. Cox was stopped short of the goal line by Kelley and Bobby McClarin.
• The Navy offense would take over the game from there, mounting an epic 26-play, 94-yard, 14:26 drive that was capped off by a Geoff Blumenfeld 22-yard field goal to make the score 34-19.  The 26 plays and 14:26 time of possession were both NCAA records for a single drive.

Fourth Quarter Rally Leads Navy To 11th Straight Win Over Army
•    Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds extended Navy’s dominance against Army, scoring the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter in a 17-13 victory in the 113th playing of America’s Game.
• Navy captured its 11th consecutive victory over Army and in doing so won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy which is awarded to the team with the best record in games among the three service academies. Army and Navy each beat Air Force, putting the prestigious trophy up for grabs in the regular-season finale for the first time since 2005.
• In front of 69,607 fans and Vice President Joe Biden at Lincoln Financial Field, Navy caught a break when Army missed a late field goal attempt.
• Reynolds quickly found Brandon Turner down the sideline for a 49-yard gain. Reynolds then escaped a rush and followed with the eight-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the game.
• Unlike previous games over the last decade, the Black Knights were in this one until the final drive. Army had driven to the Navy 14 when fullback Larry Dixon fumbled on a sloppy exchange with quarterback Trent Steelman. Junior nose guard Barry Dabney recovered the fumble and the Mids’ sideline went wild as the CIC trophy was coming back to the Naval Academy for a record 13th time after a two-year stint at Air Force. Before Navy started its 11-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in a series that started in 1890 was only five games by either team.
• Late in the third quarter, Army’s James Kelly stripped the ball from Reynolds and linebacker Alex Meier recovered to give the Black Knights the ball at Navy’s 37. Eric Osteen kicked a 21-yard field goal 10 plays later for a 13-10 lead.
• Osteen, however, was wide left on a 37-yard attempt with 6:57 left in the game.
• Navy made them pay on Reynolds’ score. The Midshipmen now lead the series 57-49-7
• After a scoreless first quarter, Army and Navy swapped rushing TDs in the second. Navy fullback Noah Copeland plowed straight up the middle for a 12-yard score. Trent Steelman matched him with an 11-yarder for his program-tying 17th TD run of the season, then saluted the cadets after the score.
• Freshman kicker Nick Sloan put Navy up 10-7 with a 31-yard field goal late in the second, but Army answered when Osteen’s 41-yarder as the first half expired hit the upright and bounced in to tie the game at 10.
•    Reynolds was named the Philadelphia Sportswriters Most Valuable Player, rushing for 43 yards and a touchdown and completing 10 of his 17 passes for 130 yards.  Sophomore fullback Noah Copeland rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while senior slot back Gee Gee Greene caught three passes for 23 yards.
• Junior linebacker Cody Peterson led the Navy defense with a career-high 14 tackles, while senior outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and one sack.  Senior Matt Warrick was also in on 11 stops, while sophomore outside linebacker Josh Tate, senior linebacker John Michael Nurthen and Dabney all recovered fumbles.

Senior Salute
•    Navy’s 28 seniors have compiled a 32-19 record (.627), qualified for three bowl games, won a bowl game (2009 Texas Bowl against Missouri) and won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy twice in their four years. The seniors were 4-0 against their biggest rival, Army, and 6-2 in Service Academy games (2-2 against Air Force).
•    The 28 seniors are:  offensive tackle Andrew Barker (High Point, N.C.), linebacker Matt Brewer (Wildwood, Mo.), safety Tra’ves Bush (Johnston, S.C.), guard Josh Cabral(Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), tackle Evan Campbell (Pasadena, Md.), fullbackPrentice Christian (Bowie, Md.), long snapper Billy Coats (Minden, Nev.), guard Matt Couch (Enola, Pa.), defensive end Josh Dowling-Fitzpatrick (Westerville, Ohio), safetyJerad Fehr (Draper, Utah), linebacker Brye French (Deatsville, Ala.), wide receiverJonathan Gazaille (Grand Prairie, Texas), slot back Gee Gee Greene (Columbia, S.C.), guard Beau Haworth (Annapolis, Md.), defensive end Wes Henderson (Wexford, Pa.), slot back John Howell (Hatfield, Pa.), wide receiver Tyler Lynch (Irving, Texas), linebacker John Michael Nurthern (Phoenixville, Pa.), wide receiver John O’Boyle (Charlotte, N.C.), tackle Ryan Paulson (Broomfield, Colo.), center Kahikolu Pescaia (Kailua, Hawai’i), tackleJoe Ryan (Tucson, Ariz.), wide receiver Matt Shibata (Honolulu, Hawai’i), slot back Bo Snelson (Pasadena, Texas), defensive end Collin Sturdivant (High Point, N.C.), wide receiver Brandon Turner (Renton, Wash.), linebacker Matt Warrick (Chesterfield, Mo.), outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel (Palos Heights, Ill.).

Scouting Arizona State
•    The Sun Devils enter the bowl game with a 7-5 record against an extremely difficult schedule.
•    ASU has defeated Northern Arizona (63-6), Illinois (45-14), Utah (37-7), California (27-17), Colorado (51-17), Washington State (46-7) and Arizona (41-34).  Meanwhile, its losses have come at the hands of Missouri (24-20), Oregon (43-21), UCLA (45-43), Oregon State (36-26) and USC (38-17).
• ASU is one of the most balanced teams in the country ranking 38th in the country in rushing offense (190.8 yds/gm), 46th in passing offense (258.5 yds/gm), 31st in total offense (449.3 yds/gm) and 21st in scoring offense (36.4 pts/gm).
• Defensively, ASU ranks 75th in rushing defense (172.0 yds/gm), 12th in pass defense (178.8 yds/gm), 26th in total defense (350.8 yds/gm) and 41st in scoring defense (24.0 pts/gm).
•    Quarterback Taylor Kelly ranks 23rd nationally in passing efficiency (153.3). He has completed 224 of his 340 pass attempts for 2,772 yards with 25 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.  Chris Coyle is Kelly’s favorite target, with 53 catches for 659 yards and five touchdowns.  Running back Marion Grice has 39 catches for 406 yards and eight touchdowns, while running back D.J. Foster has 36 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns.
• Cameron Marshall is the Sun Devils’ leading rusher with 524 yards and seven touchdowns on 127 carries, while Grice has 520 yards and nine touchdowns on just 89 carries.
• Arizona State’s defense has been terrific this year, ranking second in the country in sacks and tackles for a loss.  All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton ranks fifth nationally in tackles for a loss (1.82) and 13th in sacks (0.95).
• Safety Keelan Johnson ranks 11th in the country in interceptions (0.11 per game), while linebacker Brandon Magee is 29th in tackles (9.5 per game).
• Punter Josh Hubner ranks third in the country (47.1 yards per punt), while ASU is sixth in the nation in net punting (40.7 yards per punt).

Navy Quick Hitters
• 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 has played six bowl eligible teams this year (counting Penn State, which is not going to a bowl due to NCAA sanctions) and compiled a 3-3 record against the six programs.  The Mids defeated Air Force (6-6), Central Michigan (6-6) and East Carolina (8-4) and lost to Notre Dame (12-0), Penn State (8-4) and San Jose State (10-2).
• Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo is just the third coach in school history to start his coaching career at Navy with a 5-0 record against Army.  Paul Johnson turned in a 6-0 mark against West Point (2002-07), while Wayne Hardin won his first five games (1959-63) before losing.
• Navy has been the dominant Service Academy over the last decade, posting a 19-2 record (.905) against Army (11-0) and Air Force (8-2) in the last 21 meetings, winning eight Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies in the last 10 years and going to nine bowl games in the last 10 years.  Navy has amassed an 83-44 (.654) overall record in the last 10 years, while Air Force is 68-55 (.553) and Army is 32-88 (.267).  The 83 wins are the 21st most in the country over the last decade.
• Navy is 4-0 this year in games decided by eight points or less after going 2-5 last year in such games.
• Ken Niumatalolo has led the Midshipmen to a 40-25 (.615) record in this his fifth season as head coach.  He is fourth all-time at Navy in career wins.  Niumatalolo holds Navy coaching records for most wins in the first two (18), three (27), four (32) and five seasons (40) of a career.
• Navy’s four losses this season (Notre Dame, Penn State, San Jose State and Troy) have come at the hands of opponents who are a combined 35-13 (.729).  Notre Dame (12-0) is ranked No. 1 in the country and will play in the BCS National Championship Game, while San Jose State (10-2) is ranked 24th and will play Bowling Green in the Northrop Grumman Military Bowl in Washington, D.C.
• Over the last 10 games (8-2), Navy has outscored the opposition in the second half, 153-83.  The Navy defense has allowed just eight touchdowns in the second half of the last 10 games.
• The Mids have turned the ball over 12 times in their four losses and six times in their eight wins.
•     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 was named a Capital One First-Team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America.  Wetzel has also been a force on the field for the Midshipmen, recording 74 tackles (tied for third on the team), a team-high 15 tackles for a loss, a team-high seven sacks, has forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.  He is just one sack away from third on Navy’s single-season sacks list.
• Keenan Reynolds is the first freshman to start at quarterback for Navy since Jim Kubiak started five games in 1991.  Meanwhile, he is just the third freshman in school history to start at quarterback (the other was Alton Grizzard in 1987). Reynolds is 6-1 as a starting quarterback with wins over Central Michigan, Indiana, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Texas State and Army and a loss to Troy.  He also came off the bench with Navy down eight points to Air Force in the fourth quarter to lead the Mids to an overtime victory.  Kubiak won just one game as a freshman starter (beat a 5-5 Army team) and Grizzard won two games (lost to Army).  Reynolds is the first Navy quarterback to win his first four career starts since senior Bob Powers, who won his first six career starts in 1979.
• Sophomore punter Pablo Beltran is averaging 43.9 yards per punt (40 punts) this season, which is the second-best single-season average in school history. John Skaggs currently holds the single-season punting record at 44.8 yards per punt in 2001.  Beltran would stand 16th nationally if he qualified (must average 3.6 punts per game).
• Navy was 4-0 during the month of October after going 0-5 last year in October. It is the first time Navy went undefeated in the month of October since 1996.  That Navy team finished 9-3 and defeated California in the Aloha Bowl.
• Navy owns a 6-3 record all-time in overtime games, winning six of its last seven.
• Navy owns an 83-44 (.654) record over the last 10 years after posting a 3-30 (.091) mark from 2000-02.  The 83 wins are the 21st most in the country over the last decade.
• Navy is trying to finish No. 1 in fewest penalties and penalty yards per game for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the last four seasons.  The Mids are currently tied for second in penalties (3.5 /gm) and in penalty yards per game (27.9).
• Navy is 4-0 this year and 31-4 (.886) under Niumatalolo when scoring first and 4-4 this year and 9-21 (.300) under Niumatalolo when the opponent scores first.
• The Mids are 3-0 ths year and 24-3 (.889) under Niumatalolo when leading after the first quarter and 5-4 this year and 16-22 (.421) under Niumatalolo when trailing or tied after the first stanza.
• Navy is 6-0 this year and 27-4 (.871) under Niumatalolo when leading at the half and 2-4 this year and 12-22 (.353) under Niumatalolo when tied or trailing at the half.
• Navy is 5-0 this year and 31-3 (.912) under Niumatalolo when leading after three quarters and 3-4 this year and 8-23 (.258) under Niumatalolo when tied or trailing after three quarters.
•    Navy owns a 19-7 (.731) record in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under Niumatalolo and is 21-18 (.538) away from home.

California Dreaming
•    Navy has 10 players on its travel roster from the state of California.
•    Senior starting offensive guard Josh Cabral hails from Rancho Santa Margarita, sophomore starting long snapper Joe Cardona is from El Cajon, freshman center Brandon Greene is from Highland, freshman punter Gavin Jernigan is from Lawndale, freshman safety Mike Markovsky is from Costa Mesa, sophomore wide receiver James King is from Orinda, sophomore defensive end Paul Quessenberry is from Carlsbad, freshman starting kicker Nick Sloan is from San Diego, junior linebacker Michael Tuimavave is from Daly City and junior starting offensive tackle Graham Vickers is from Diamond Bar.

Playing Against The Home State
•    Senior guard Joe Ryan hails from Tucson, while junior wide receiver Casey Bolena is from Phoenix.

Balanced Attack
• Navy’s slot backs have rushed for 1,467 yards and six touchdowns on 200 carries (7.3 yards per carry), the fullbacks have ran for 943 yards and seven touchdowns on 202 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and the quarterbacks have rushed for 921 yards and 13 touchdowns on 230 carries (4.0 yards per carry).