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

Baltimore Sun - - NAVY FOOTBALL - By Bill Wagner

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

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