Mids’ los­ing streak sinks to six straight

QB change does not pro­vide spark in blowout loss to Bearcats

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Bill Wag­ner

CINCIN­NATI — An­other quar­ter­back change could not spark the strug­gling of­fense while the de­fense was shred­ded once again as Navy’s los­ing streak stretched to six on Satur­day.

Quar­ter­back Des­mond Rid­der di­rected an of­fense that rolled up 451 yards while mas­sive tackle Cortez Broughton an­chored a de­fense that com­pletely shut down the triple op­tion as host Cincin­nati routed Navy, 42-0, be­fore an an­nounced crowd of 36,318 at Nip­pert Sta­dium.

It was the most em­bar­rass­ing per­for­mance of a dis­mal sea­son for the Mid­ship­men, who were shut out for the first time since suf­fer­ing a 12-0 loss to San Jose State in 2012.

“We got our butts whipped and it started with me. We got out­coached and we got shel­lacked by a good team,” Navy head coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “A butt whoop­ing like this starts with me. I can’t re­mem­ber the last time we got our butts whooped like that.”

It was Navy’s most lop­sided loss since a 56-14 drub­bing at the hands of Notre Dame in Oc­to­ber 2011.

Se­nior Zach Abey made his first start of the sea­son at quar­ter­back, but was un­able to boost an of­fense that con­tin­ued its in­cred­i­ble in­con­sis­tency. Abey had no more suc­cess run­ning the ball than Gar­ret Lewis and fin­ished with only 37 yards on 28 car­ries.

“We were just try­ing to get a spark,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said when asked why he started Abey over Lewis. “We needed to get some­thing go­ing. Ob­vi­ously, it didn’t work out. I can’t re­mem­ber the last time we were shut out.”

It was a group ef­fort as the over­all of­fense re­mained out of sync with missed as­sign­ments and poor block­ing lead­ing to nu­mer­ous neg­a­tive plays that de­railed drives.

Slot­back Mal­colm Perry had his least pro­duc­tive game with just 20 rush­ing yards on eight at­tempts as Navy dropped to 2-7 over­all and 1-4 in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence. With four reg­u­lar-sea­son games re­main­ing, the Mid­ship­men are as­sured of their first los­ing sea­son since 2011.

“It’s hard to an­swer that ques­tion right now,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said when asked where Navy goes from here. “To get shel­lacked like that is tough. We’re a proud pro­gram and haven’t got­ten beat like that in a long time.”

Things don’t get any eas­ier for Navy, which trav­els to Or­lando next Satur­day to take on No. 12 Cen­tral Florida (8-0). The Mid­ship­men will be try­ing to avoid their first seven-game los­ing streak since 2002.

“It’s my job to get them mo­ti­vated. We have to con­tinue to keep fight­ing as a pro­gram,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “We’re not go­ing to quit, but we’ve got to find some­thing to get go­ing.”

Navy man­aged only 57 to­tal yards in be­ing shut out in the first half for the sec­ond straight game, first time that has hap­pened since 1993. For the game, the Mid­ship­men were a woe­ful 3-for-13 on third down con­ver­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties and 0-for-3 when go­ing for it on fourth down.

“We just got beat in all aspects as far as the of­fense. They out-toughed us and out-ex­e­cuted us,” Abey said. “They had a re­ally good plan and had ad­just­ments for our ad­just­ments. So I feel like they were al­ways one step ahead of us.”

Put back on the field time af­ter time by an of­fense that could not string to­gether first downs, the de­fense faded fast against an ex­tremely bal­anced Bearcats at­tack.

Rid­der com­pleted 13 of 17 passes for 178 yards and a touch­down for Cincin­nati, which jumped out to a 28-0 half­time lead and was never chal­lenged. Rid­der also rushed for 66 yards and a score be­fore leav­ing the game mid­way through the third quar­ter with the Bearcats lead­ing 35-0.

“Along with them be­ing well-pre­pared we were giv­ing them too much. As a de­fense, we didn’t play our best game,” Navy se­nior safety Sean Wil­liams said.

It was noth­ing we haven’t seen be­fore. We just have to re­act to the ball bet­ter and not give up so much,” Wil­liams added. “We were giv­ing them a lot. We can’t let them get those kind of big plays.”

Stand­out tail­back Michael War­ren II rushed for 68 yards and two touch­downs for Cincin­nati (8-1, 4-1

JOHN MINCHILLO/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Navy’s Zach Abey, who made his first start of the sea­son at quar­ter­back, gets tack­led by Cincin­nati line­backer Kyle Bolden.

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