Fight Hunger Bowl, As It Happened
Brandon Turner makes a touchdown catch.
Brandon Turner makes a touchdown catch.
Staff Columnist
Posted Dec 29, 2012


Can a 62-28 loss actually magnify the virtues of a team and amplify the extent to which a team fulfilled its potential over the course of a regular season? In the case of the 2012 Navy Midshipmen, yes.


13:49 left, first quarter: Navy has to find a way to hang in at the point of attack and hold Arizona State to field goals.

12:43: Early days in San Francisco, but this could be a trying, taxing, and utterly interminable afternoon inside the home of the baseball-playing Giants.

11:22: Game summary after three minutes and 38 seconds: POW! WHACK! WHAM! BOOM! Navy's getting pounded up front, recalling what happened to the Midshipmen in September, especially against Penn State.

8:51: That open-field tackle two yards short of the marker simply has to be made on third down if Navy wants to have any shot at this game. That's non-negotiable. It's not as though the Arizona State ballcarrier had a full head of steam. He needs to be chased down and angled off.

8:22: This is a glorified scrimmage for Arizona State. Goodness gracious.

6:14: You would expect Ken Niumatalolo to go for it in that situation, but expectations are no reason to withhold praise for a proper decision. This is why Navy is in such good hands. The play selection by Ivin Jasper on fourth down was terrific as well.

3:03: Arizona State's speed is substantial, and Navy has to counteract it.

2:38: Gee Gee Greene dropped a touchdown pass against Army as well. That's a massive failure, one that could very possibly allow this game to spiral completely out of control.

1:47: When it rains bad luck, it pours. A hard, timely stick for Navy… and a 15-yard penalty.

0:04: Murphy's Law has dominated this first quarter, as has Arizona State.

End Of First Quarter Score: Arizona State 21, Navy 0.

14:26 left, second quarter:
.

12:36: Arizona State is going hard and inside with blitzes and upfield pursuit. Navy is going outside the tackle box with pitch plays, and that's prying open lanes for the Midshipmen. Keenan Reynolds is playing a solid game. He's been under pressure a lot, but he should have a touchdown pass to his credit. He has Navy's offense in the red zone again. There's really nothing to complain about – Reynolds is doing his job.

9:24: Now, Reynolds has something tangible to show for all his great work. Navy needs an Arizona State slip-up or a moment of inspiration such as a surprise onside kick to swing this game and find a competitive foothold.

9:17: That's not how to swing a game.

8:23: Arizona State doesn't need to throw the ball vertically when it can get a setback on a linebacker on a short crossing route. This is a leisurely stroll in the park for Los Diablos from the Valley of the Sun.

7:57: This game is being played in San Francisco, but Navy pass defenders were located in Oakland on that last Arizona State touchdown drive.

2:21: This has been a delightful drive from Navy. You can say, with some degree of credence, that possessions in a 21-point game don't matter as much as possessions in a closer conteset, but this is still the first half. Moreover, Navy's mixture of plays has been properly calibrated against a defense that has more speed. Navy is having fun and leaving nothing in the grab bag. Jasper is calling plays with confidence, and his players are executing. The blocking on that last run was tremendous.

1:25: Yes, good move – call timeout with one second on the play clock to prevent Arizona State from having a good chance at a touchdown.

1:19: WAIT A MINUTE! GO FOR IT! YOU DON'T KICK WHEN DOWN BY 21! The game management was picture perfect, but the decision at the end of that sequence was awful.

1:14: Of course that happened. Of course.

0:55: That's just mean, Arizona State, piling on like that. After 29 minutes of not needing the long ball, the Sun Devils bust out the home-run play. San Francisco Giant slugger Pablo Sandoval would probably approve. What a mess.

Halftime Score: Arizona State 34, Navy 7.

13:24 left, third quarter: Really, just how much can be said at this point? Penn State bullied Navy in September, and San Jose State's well-schooled defense shut down the Midshipmen's offense that same month. This game owns some of the characteristics of those two games, but it's ultimately a separate and distinct creature. Arizona State has more speed than Penn State plus a system that places twin emphases on tempo and read-based plays. That's different from what Penn State does (and tried to do against Navy). As for the San Jose State angle, Navy's offense isn't getting shut down today. Arizona State is making a lot of good reactions, but Navy should have 17 points on the board with two minutes gone in the second half. This is a case of one large dropped pass (by Gee Gee Greene) coming on a day when major mistakes simply could not enter the equation. Navy's offense had to be letter-perfect today, and when one tipping-point play went awry, the Midshipmen lost all leverage.

Many opponents are not imposing enough to demand unceasing precision from your offense. Arizona State, though, was just such a team. The Sun Devils' open-field skill and athleticism were going to punish the Midshipmen at times. Navy knew it would not win on every snap; Ken Niumatalolo and the rest of his staff knew that they'd have to be patient, win the right plays (third and fourth downs), and pounce on opportunities in specific moments. Plays don't get much bigger than fourth-and-seven passes thrown into the end zone. Greene's drop against Army didn't matter because the Black Knights weren't consistent enough to exploit Navy's defense. Other mistakes against the likes of Florida Atlantic and Indiana didn't matter because the Owls and Hoosiers didn't have the heft needed to bring Navy to its knees. Arizona State was a different story, and that's why this game is entirely done and dusted midway through the third quarter.

End Of Third Quarter Score: Arizona State 62, Navy 14.

0:05 left, fourth quarter:
Yes, this turned into a full-scale beatdown, but as the season comes to a close, do realize that by returning to a bowl game, continuing the winning streak over Army, and recapturing the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, Navy produced an immensely successful season. Don't allow this game to change your opinion of how the Midshipmen performed and competed during the 2012 regular season… unless your admiration of the Men of Ken grows. This team verily overachieved, returning to the typical track record established by Mr. Niumatalolo and his supremely capable coaching staff.

Final Score: Arizona State 62, Navy 28.


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