Navy runs past SMU, 34-7

Down to its third-string quarterback and facing windy and rainy weather, Navy opted for a simple approach against Southern Methodist on Saturday: It did not attempt a pass. Instead, all 77 of its plays were runs. And it was more than enough for a 34-7 victory before 31,698 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

WIth the victory, the Midshipmen (5-3) set an obscure record: It marked the first time they had not thrown a pass in a game since at least 1948. Navy last went without a completed pass in a 38-28 victory over Penn in 1987; in that game, then-freshman Alton Grizzard made his first career start and rushed for 225 yards.

On Saturday, another player receiving his first significant playing time had nearly identical statistics.

Sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs entered the game after starter Jarod Bryant injured his shoulder midway through the first quarter. Dobbs played almost the entire rest of the game (Bryant briefly re-entered the game early in the second quarter) and finished with 42 carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns.

"I wasn't mad [about not throwing]," Dobbs said. "We were getting the job done on the ground. If it ain't broken, don't fix it."

Dobbs's performance came at a most opportune time. Navy entered with six quarterbacks on the roster. Two were out for the game with injuries --- seniors Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and Joe Taylor. When Bryant went down, it left Dobbs, junior Greg Zingler and freshman Kriss Proctor.

Dobbs was enough. With heavy rain and wind blowing 18-36 mph throughout, Dobbs executed Navy's simple approach to perfection. He was in the game for 60 plays. Forty-two were carries by him. Only two were plays that resulted in option pitches.

"He played phenomenal," Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said of Dobbs before adding that the weather helped his team. "The weather was a definite advantage for us."

And a disadvantage for a pass-heavy team like SMU. The Mustangs (1-8) entered having rushed the ball 151 times and thrown it 325 times. On Saturday, they finished with negative-13 rushing yards and 157 passing yards. Sophomore safety Wyatt Middleton had four tackles, as did senior linebacker Corey Johnson.

The Midshipmen began the game in the nickel defense (five defensive backs) but, once they got an early lead, they went to a dime defense of six defensive backs. SMU tried to run the ball against the dime defense and at times succeeded, but the plays were too time consuming as it tried to come back from the large deficit.

Freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed 16 of 28 passes for 157 yards, with one touchdown and one interception but also was sacked twice.

"It's just frustrating," SMU Coach June Jones said. "I've played in these kind of games before, and you have to be able to overcome the conditions. We weren't able to today."

Navy took the lead for good on a 23-yard touchdown run by senior Shun White on its opening possession. Its final four scores all came from Dobbs, on runs of 2, 5, 7 and 1 yards.

Dobbs's playing time prior to Saturday had consisted of one drive late in games against Towson and Pittsburgh this year and a drive late in the first half against Air Force. Against Towson, Dobbs led a late drive for a field goal. Against Pitt, he led a drive for a touchdown.

Overall, Dobbs has been the primary quarterback on 11 drives this year; six have resulted in scores.

"Everyone knew what Ricky was capable of doing," senior offensive guard Anthony Gaskins said. "He definitely has elusiveness."

The offensive line -- particularly senior center Ricky Moore and guards Gaskins and Curtis Bass, a junior -- moved SMU's interior line and found space to rush for 404 yards even though SMU often had eight or nine defenders close to the line of scrimmage.

"They run the ball and they're pretty much going to run it against everybody. That's what they do. You better be able to stop, you better be able to disrupt, because they do a great job at their scheme," Jones said. "Unless they beat themselves, you're never really going to get them off the field. And that's what happened today."

Bryant was diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder and his status for the game against Temple on Saturday is not known. It also is not known if Kaheaku-Enhada will be back.

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