QB Smith lost for the season with torn ACL
Injury wasn’t caused by a Fordham hit, Jasper says; surgery scheduled this week, senior Worth moves into starting role
Navy received the news everyone involved with the football program was dreading Monday: Starting quarterback Tago Smith has suffered a season-ending injury.
An MRI revealed Smith suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in the Midshipmen’s 52-16 victory over Fordham in Saturday’s season opener. Navy announced the news in a release Monday, saying Smith would undergo surgery this week.
Smith, a senior from Fayetteville, Ga., will miss the rest of the season. Coach Ken Niumatalolo declined to comment when asked whether Navy would seek a medical redshirt for him.
“This is a tough day for Tago, his family and the Navy Brotherhood,” Niumatalolo said in a statement to the Baltimore Sun Media Group. “Tago represents who we are: humble, hard-working and tough. We are all praying for his well-being.”
Smith served as backup to record-setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds from 2013 through 2015. After waiting four years for the starting job, the 5-foot-10, 201-pound player lasted just more than a quarter.
Smith directed the triple option well during the first quarter as Navy had184 total yards of offense and scored 21 points. He did most of the damage himself, rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns while making a 45-yard throw to Calvin Cass Jr. on a wheel route.
“Tago was just beginning to show people his amazing talents. He was operating our offense at a very high level and on track for a huge day when this unfortunate injury occurred,” Niumatalolo said.
Smith’s final play was a 22-yard run to the Fordham 14. The Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium announced crowd of 28,238 went silent at the sight of Smith lying on the turf and clutching his leg in obvious pain.
Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper watched the replay of that run several times and said Smith was not hit by a Fordham defender. Jasper, who was coaching from the press box, said Smith planted his right leg to make a cut and it buckled.
“I’m truly heartbroken for the young man. Considering all the sacrifices he made for this program, to have this happen is just tragic,” Jasper said during a telephone interview Monday. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. You wonder how something like this could happen.”
Jasper said Smith addressed his teammates Monday and told them they needed to move on.
“Tago told the team that ‘I’m staying positive and you all need to press on.’ I’m sure this situation is tearing him up. It’s just so tough to have this opportunity taken away,” Jasper said.
Senior Will Worth will take over at quarterback, with sophomore Zach Abey (Archbishop Spalding) moving up to second on the depth chart and freshman Malcolm Perry third. Worth has made three appearances at quarterback for the Mids, with the most extensive action coming Saturday, when he replaced Smith early in the second quarter.
Worth saw his only playing time as a freshman on the final drive against Duke. He carried the ball three times for 10 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Military Institute as a junior. Saturday, 3:30 p.m. TV: CBS Sports Network Radio: 1090 AM, 1430 AM Line: Navy by 4