Mids’ losing streak sinks to six straight
QB change does not provide spark in blowout loss to Bearcats
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
Navy’s Zach Abey, who made his first start of the season at quarterback, gets tackled by Cincinnati linebacker Kyle Bolden.