Oct. 19, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy sprint football team earned a 28-7 home victory over Cornell on Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Led by a strong rushing attack and a tenacious defensive line, the Mids improved to 5-0 with the win against the Big Red.
The running back duo of Corey Garcia (So., San Diego, Calif.) and Eric Wellmon (So., Wallkill, N.Y.) led Navy’s rushing effort with a combined 311 yards on the ground. Garcia finished with 181 yards on 33 carries, while Wellmon went for 130 yards on 16 rushes. Junior quarterback William Hampton (Charleston, S.C.) threw two touchdowns on seven completions.
Defensively, juniors Christopher Mershon (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) and Jon Moyle (Tallahassee, Fla.) wrecked havoc in Cornell’s offensive backfield all afternoon. Mershon had a game-high 3.5 sacks and another 3.5 tackles for loss, while Moyle finished with a game-high nine tackles, as well as 1.5 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss.
“We had a bit of a slow start, but we made some adjustments and got to work,” said Navy head coach Maj. Kavan Lake, USMC. “All sides of the ball played well. After giving up a touchdown, our defense really buckled down and held Cornell off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.”
Navy’s special teams unit had a leading role in the game’s first score late in the first quarter. After senior punter Adrian Montecinos (Whittier, Calif.) had his kick downed at the one yard line, a strong defensive stand set up a fourth down punt attempt from Cornell deep in its on end. A bobble by the Big Red’s punter Ryan Litchman in the end zone led to frantic rush attempt by the punter and an eventual fumble that Mershon picked up and returned two yards for the touchdown.
Cornell responded in the second quarter with a nine-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with a short five-yard touchdown pass at 3:24.
On the ensuing drive, Navy marched 77 yards down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. The Mids kept the ball in the hands of their running backs Garcia and Wellmon during this drive and found great success as Wellmon broke open a 54-yard run down the field to set up three consecutive rushes by Garcia to net a five-yard touchdown at 1:16.
“Corey and Eric’s success doesn’t surprise me,” said Lake of his potent rushing duo. “They stepped up last week in wake of David’s [Williams] injury and we know we can trust them. If defense’s don’t stop them early, they’re really hard to contain.”
With the score 14-7 in the third quarter, Navy would withstand Cornell’s attempt to tie the game early in the period. Starting its drive at the its own 20 yard line, Cornell would get into Navy’s territory and pressure the Mids with a 10-play, 54-yard drive. On its heels a bit, the Mids responded to this threat with a forced turnover as defensive back Dan Gilmore (Mansfield, Mass.) picked off a potential Cornell touchdown pass in the end zone for his first career interception.
A 28-yard punt return by senior Brendan West (Meridian, Idaho) gave Navy’s offense a short field to work late in the third quarter. On the next play after West's return, Hampton found senior tight end Dan Shackleton (Malvern, Pa.) for a 16-yard touchdown connection at 1:38.
Navy extended its lead to 28-7 on its next offensive possession on the strength of a 32-yard Garcia scamper and a 36-yard touchdown pass from Hampton to Matthew Hite (Chapin, S.C.) at 11:49 in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Cornell attempted to tighten up the score. After driving the ball into Navy’s red zone, the Mids would shutdown 10 consecutive plays by the Big Red, including five plays from inside the 10. Mershon and Moyle had sacks, while Gilmore and Colin Ascherl (Granville, Iowa) made tackles for loss in this defensive stand.
“The way the defensive stopped Cornell in the red zone in the fourth quarter was great. They kept denying Cornell and pushing them back,” said Lake of his defense’s stand.
Both teams would be held scoreless to close the game’s scoring at 28-7.
After the game Lake recognized the outstanding efforts of his entire team against Cornell and especially that of defensive line.
“The D-Line was fantastic,” said Lake. “Chris [Mershon] and Jon [Moyle] had standout games. It was amazing. Whatever you ask them to do, they do it and they do it well.
For the game, Navy's offense outgained Cornell 428 to 226. The Mids' defense held the Big Red to just 34 yards on 42 attempts.
The Midshipmen will next be in action on Saturday, Oct. 26 at West Point in the annual Navy-Army Star Game contest. With Army’s 57-0 win over Princeton and Navy’s victory over Cornell, the two teams will each come into next Saturday’s matchup with undefeated records. The 2 p.m. contest will be held at Shea Stadium.