Strong Defensive Effort Comes Up Short as Sprint Falls to Penn
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy sprint football team (5-2, 2-1 CSFL South) fell, 28-23, to Penn (5-1, 3-0 CSFL South) on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the Collegiate Sprint Football League South Division title. The Mids blocked two punts and forced four turnovers, but could not get going offensively in defeat.
“The team did not give up,” Major Jeff Polson, USMC said of his team after the game. “The defense put us in a good situation in the first half, which resulted in points. In the second half, we had a very short field for the defense the whole time. Our defense kept coming up big for us. Play after play. Time after time. We were able to keep them off the board, but at some point, it was too much and they ended up pulling away a little bit. They kept fighting and I am proud of them for that.”
The defense limited the Penn offense to 283 total yards with 152 on the ground and 131 in the air. The Mids forced two fumbles, while picking off two passes. In addition, the Midshipmen blocked two punts. Three Mids finished the game with double-digit tackles with another two notching nine stops.
Luke Coughlin (Islip, N.Y.), led the team with 12 tackles, including a team-high 4.0 tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks. Bryant Schlade (Napoleon, Ohio) and Mason Hooten (Orlando, Fla.) each posted 10 stops and combined for 3.5 tackles for loss. Tommy Guinan (Elmhurst, Ill.) and Dean Rye (Fairfax, Va.) each added nine tackles apiece. Schlade and Sheppard Wilson (Charlotte, N.C.) each posted blocks, while Coughlin and Schlade forced a fumble each. Rye and Grant Hooper (Huntingtown, Md.) recovered a fumble apiece. Miles Whitlow (Madison, Ala.) and Patrcik McMahan (Windermere, Fla.) each recorded interceptions on the night.
Offensively, Navy was unable to get into rhythm. The Mids gained just seven first down, tallying 159 total yards. The Midshipmen gained 112 yards in the air, while rushing for a mere 47 yards.
Starting quarterback Braydan Chmiel (Warrenton, Mo.) finished the game 9-for-23 with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. The plebe connected with four receivers on the night. The Mids were led by Austin Rogers (Cottonwood, Ariz.) who hauled in three catches for 73 yards and a pair of TDs. J.T. Thompson (Stratham, N.H.) had a team-high four receptions.
Navy was the first team to score. McMahan picked off a Quaker pass in the red zone, setting up the Mids at the 17 yardline. Chmiel hit Rogers on a 17-yard strike on the first play of the drive to put the home team in front 7-0.
The following Penn drive saw Coughlin force a fumble that Hooper returned nine yards to the Quaker 11 yardline. Senior captain Mac Lavis (Orinda, Calif.) carried the load, capping the two-play drive with an eight-yard TD run to put Navy up 14-0 in the first quarter.
A fumble gave the visitors the ball at the Navy 24-yardline. The Quakers drove 24 yards into the checkerboard end zone in seven plays to cut the Midshipmen advantage to 14-7.
In the second quarter, Schlade gave the Mids excellent field position as the senior defensive lineman blocked a Quaker punt to give Navy the ball inside the 10. The Mids gained just one yard and were forced to settle for a field goal to extend the lead to 17-7.
Penn cut the margin to three points before halftime. Navy fumbled the ball, giving the visitors the ball at the 11 yardline. Three plays later, the Quakers found the end zone to cut the Mids’ lead to 17-14.
In the second half, Penn received the ball to start the third quarter. The Quakers drove 60 yards in 13 plays, but the Mids forced a field goal attempt that was wide left. On Penn’s second drive of the half, the Quakers once again attempted a 35-yard field goal after a defensive stop by Navy, but the kick was wide left once again, leaving the score 17-14 in favor of Navy.
Penn opened the fourth quarter by capping a six-play 35-yard drive with a touchdown to take its first lead of the game, 21-17.
After back-to-back three and outs by Navy that netted a combined three yards, the Mids gave Penn the ball on the Navy 47 yardline. The Quakers took advantage of the short field with a seven-play drive for a touchdown. The drive was capped by a 15-yard rush into the checkerboard end zone.
Down 28-17, Navy showed its resilience, forcing a 27-yard punt that McMahan returned for 20 yards to set up the Mids with the ball on the Penn 39 with 15 seconds to play. Chmiel found Rogers in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to pull to within five, 28-23.
After a failed two-point conversion, the Midshipmen tried for the onside kick that was recovered by the Quakers, sealing the victory for Penn.