Navy Travels to Penn State for First Gridiron Clash Since 1974
Sophomore offensive lineman Jake Zuzek returns to his home state of Pennsylvania.
Setting the Stage
Navy and Penn State will meet for the 38th time on the gridiron when they square off at Beaver Stadium (106,572) in University Park, Pa. on Sept. 15. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm.
This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1974 when Navy went on the road and upset nationally-ranked Penn State, 7-6. The win ended the Nittany Lions' 21-game home winning streak and overall winning string of 13 consecutive games. The series dates back to 1894 when the two teams played to a 6-6 tie.
The game will be nationally televised on ABC/ESPN2 with Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Ed Cunningham (color) and Jeannine Edwards (sideline) calling the action. Check your local listings to find out which network will be carrying the game in your area.
The Navy Football Tailgate Show on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM will air at 1:30 pm with Pete Medhurst live from Beaver Stadium and Joe Miller in Annapolis.
The Navy Football Pregame Show with Bob Socci, Omar Nelson and Pete Medhurst will get underway at 2:30 pm, followed by game action beginning at 3:30 pm on the Navy Radio Network.
Following the contest, Joe Miller and Pete Medurst will recap the day's events in a 60-minute postgame show live on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM and WFED 1050 AM.
The WNAV pregame and postgame shows will be available over the internet to Navy All-Access subscribers, as will the game broadcast.
Navy owns a 17-16 (.515) record in games played away from the friendly confines of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, including a 3-5 (.375) mark over the last two years.
The Mids are 15-6 (.714) in home games under Niumatalolo which includes a 2-3 (.400) record in 2011.
In Navy's last five wins, it outscored the opposition, 105-31, in the first half, including 43-0 in the first quarter.
In the Mids' last eight losses, they have been outscored, 179-69, in the first half, including 72-10 in the first quarter.
Navy has been held below 300 yards rushing in seven of its last 13 games and won just one of those games (Army).
Navy is 27-4 (.870) under Niumatalolo when scoring first. The Mids are 5-18 (.217) under Niumatalolo when the opponent scores first and have lost the last eight games (over the last three years).
Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 21-3 (.875) when leading after the first quarter and 11-19 (.367) when trailing or tied after the first stanza.
An opposing running back has rushed for over 100 yards in a game against Navy in nine of the last 13 contests. In the previous 40 games, Navy surrendered only nine 100-yard rushing games to opposing running backs.
Starting sophomore outside linebacker Chris Johnson is out for the year with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Starting junior wide receiver Matt Aiken is questionable with a right knee injury.
Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions are 0-2 under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien, losing at home to Ohio, 24-14, and on the road to Virginia, 17-16.
Quarterback Matt McGloin has completed 46 of his 83 (.554) passes for 457 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson has an incredible 19 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown in his first two games. He is tied for seventh in the country in catches per game and 27th in receiving yards per game. Kyle Carter has 10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Bill Belton started against Ohio and carried the ball 13 times for 53 yards. He missed the Virginia game with an ankle injury. Derek Day started against the Cavs and carried the ball 18 times for 47 yards.
Outside linebackers Michael Mauti (21 tackles) and Gerald Hodges (19 tackles) lead the team in tackles. Mauti also has a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, while Hodges has recovered a fumble.
The Last Time ...
Navy 7, Penn State 6 Sept. 21, 1974 | University Park, Pa.
Navy parlayed a lone second-quarter touchdown drive of 80 yards and some steady and alert defensive play to upset nationally-ranked Penn State, 7-6, on a rainy and windy day.
The Midshipman victory ended Penn State's 21-game home winning streak and overall winning string of 13-consecutive games.
The Nittany Lions missed on four field goal attempts, including one from the 43-yard line with less than two minutes on the clock.
Navy also gobbled up five Lion fumbles.
Navy initiated its lone touchdown drive in the second period when fullback Bob Jackson burst over the left side for 21 yards. Quarterback Phil Poirier then was successful on passes of 14 and 21 yards, respectively to wide receivers Ike Owens and Robin Ameen.
Another key play was a pass to Jackson, gaining nine yards and a first down on the State 10. On third down from the four, Jackson on the fullback run-pass option hit Ameen in the end zone and Steve Dykes added the extra point.
The Nittany Lions, kept off balance by the Navy defense led by Chet Moeller, pieced together a 58-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. Fullback Tom Donchez made five-straight carries during the march, gaining 24 yards and a first down on the five. Tom Shuman then hit Jerry Jeram with a five-yard scoring pass, the clock showing 4:41 remaining.
Penn State went for a two-point conversion but Shuman's pass for wingback Jim Eaise was knocked down by Navy halfback Ed Jeter.
Penn State had the ball once more, but Chris Bahr failed on the 43-yard field goal try.
Earlier Nittany Lion drives to the Navy 19, 36, 23, 12, 15 anad nine-yard lines ended in fumbles or missed field goals.
Moeller had 13 tackles, three of them for losses, and a recovered fumble.
The Navy football program recruits Pennsylvania heavily and it currently has 13 players on its roster from the Keystone State.
Senior defensive end Wes Henderson (Wexford), senior slot back John Howell (Hatfield) and sophomore guard Jake Zuzek (Brookhaven) are all expected to start against the Nittany Lions on Saturday.
Additionally, senior linebacker John Michael Nurthen (Phoenixville), sophomore fullback Maika Polamalu (Pottstown) and freshman nose guard Bernard Sarra (Monessen, Pa.) are expected to see action on Saturday.
Other Pennsylvania natives on the roster include senior guard Matt Couch (Enola), freshman defensive end David Gordeuk (Port Matilda), junior defensive end Michael Huf (Drexel Hill), sophomore defensive end Chris Nurthen (Phoenixville), freshman wide receiver Doug Ott (Kennett Square), sophomore corner Lonnie Richardson (Chester) and junior slot back Brian Williams (Monroeville).
Couch's father, Thomas, was a lineman at Penn State in the early 80's.
Polamalu's father, Aoatoa, played football at Penn State and was the starting defensive tackle on the Nittany Lions' 1986 national championship team. His cousin is standout Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
Navy-Penn State Ties
Former Navy head coach George Welsh was a Penn State assistant coach from 1964-72, leaving to become the Mids' head coach in 1973. In Welsh's only game at Beaver Stadium as Navy's coach, he led the Mids to a 7-6 win in 1974. Welsh was the Navy coach through 1981 when he left to become head coach at Virginia. He is Navy's career wins leader, earning a 55-46-1 mark.
Former Penn State Associate AD Budd Thalman was Navy's Sports Information Director from 1962-72. He provided assistance to the national media during Roger Staubach's Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 1963. Thalman was the Buffalo Bills' Vice President for Public Relations from 1973-85 before going to Penn State, where he directed the Nittany Lions' external relations and communications from 1986 until his 2001 retirement. Thalman was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame in 1998.
Navy Versus The Big 10
Navy is 26-41-3 (.393) all-time against schools currently in the Big 10 Conference.
The Mids are 17-18-2 against Penn State, 5-12-1 against Michigan, 2-0 against Purdue, 1-0 against Illinois, 1-1 against Wisconsin, 0-1 against Minnesota, 0-2 against Indiana, 0-3 against Northwestern and 0-4 against Ohio State.
This will be Navy's first game against a Big 10 opponent since Sept. 5, 2009, when Ohio State edged the Mids, 31-27, in Columbus.
Navy last beat a Big 10 opponent on Sept. 29, 1979, when the Mids won at Illinois, 13-12.
Youth Is Served
Navy has one of the youngest football teams in America. With 13 true freshmen (Navy does not redshirt) appearing on the depth chart, the Mids are tied for third nationally for the most true freshmen listed on the depth.
The Mids played eight true freshmen against Notre Dame (CB Quincy Adams, K Nick Sloan, CB Shelley White, CB Kwazel Bertrand, QB Keenan Reynolds, OLB A.K. Akpunku, NG Bernard Sarra and DE Will Anthony.
Navy had eight players make their first-career starts against Notre Dame, including five on offense and three on the offensive line (LT Ryan Paulson, RG Jake Zuzek, RT Bradyn Heap, WR Jonathan Gazaille, FB Noah Copeland, NG Barry Dabney, RE Evan Palelei and OLB Jordan Drake).
Navy had 17 players make their college debut in Saturday's opener against Notre Dame. In addition to the eight freshmen previously mentioned, Heap, KO specialist Colin Amerau, SB Geoffrey Whiteside, FB Prentice Christian, DE Paul Quessenberry, OG Thomas Stone, C Tanner Fleming, DE Aaron Davis and DE Danny Ring played in their first-collegiate contest.
A First Time For Everything
Junior wide receiver Casey Bolena caught a career-high three passes for a career-best 61 yards against Notre Dame. He entered the contest with four career receptions for 53 yards.
Senior fullback Prentice Christian, making his first-collegiate apperance, paced Navy in rushing with 39 yards on two carries including a long rush of 25.
Sophomore fullback Noah Copeland carried the ball six times for 29 yards in making his first-collegiate start at fullback. He also caught three passes for 11 yards.
Sophomore outside linebacker Jordan Drake turned in a career-high seven tackles against the Irish after contributing four tackles his freshman year as a member of special teams.
Sophomore corner Parrish Gaines recorded a career-high 12 tackles against Notre Dame and also picked off his first-career pass.
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Gazaille made his first-career catch for a gain of four yards against the Irish.
Junior wide receiver Shawn Lynch caught a career-high four passes for a career-high 87 yards in what marked just his third game played at wide receiver (he played defense as a sophomore). He caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Trey Miller for his first-collegiate reception and caught a 25-yard strike from Miller for his first-career touchdown.
Freshman kicker Nick Sloan connected on his first-career field goal attempt from 26-yards at the end of the first half against Notre Dame.
Senior outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel recorded his first-collegiate sack against Notre Dame.
Lots of Passing Yards Usually Means A Loss
Junior quarterback Trey Miller was completed 14 of his 20 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown against Notre Dame.
The 192-yard passing effort was Navy's best since throwing for 227 yards in a 34-31 loss to Duke in 2010 and the most yards Navy has thrown for against Notre Dame since 1996 when the Mids threw for 218 yards in a 54-27 loss to the Irish in ironically enough, Dublin.
Navy's 10 points in the opener against Notre Dame were the fewest points it has scored in a game since Oct. 2, 2010, when the Mids scored just six points in a 14-6 loss at Air Force.
The Mids' 149 yards rushing against Notre Dame were the fewest by a Navy team since Dec. 11, 2010, when Navy rushed for just 139 yards in a 31-17 victory over Army.
Freshman Nick Sloan beat out five other kickers to earn the job as Navy's kicker on field goals and PATs. He made his first-career field goal attempt from 26 yards against Notre Dame and also made his only PAT attempt.
Sloan is the first freshman to start at kicker for Navy since 1996 when Tim Shubzda started multiple games, including the opener against Rutgers. Shubzda connected on four-of-six field goal attempts and all six of his PAT's as a freshman, splitting time with Jason Covarubbias and Tom Vanderhorst.
Beltran Off To A Good Start
Sophomore punter Pablo Beltran got off to a good start, averaging 46.2 yards per punt on his four punts against Notre Dame which inlcuded a long of 63.
Beltran averaged 37.5 yards per punt as a freshman. He was the first freshman to start at punter for the Midshipmen since Brian Schrum in 1992.