ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)—While Navy’s triple-option offense sputtered against Georgia Southern, it was the defense that preserved the win for the Midshipmen in their home opener on Saturday.
Quarterback Ricky Dobbs had a 1-yard touchdown run and Joe Buckley added two field goals to lift Navy to the 13-7 win over the Eagles (1-1).
Buckley kicked first-quarter field goals of 18 and 42 yards and Dobbs’ second-quarter score put Navy ahead at the half 13-0.
The score extended Dobbs’ streak of scoring in all 15 games he’s started, but the only other big play the senior made was a 44-yard pass on the final drive of the game, which allowed Navy (1-1) to run out the clock.
Meanwhile, Navy’s defense held the Eagles’ version of the triple-option offense to just 23 yards on 21 plays in the first half, and allowed Georgia Southern only 109 yards for the game, 73 rushing and 36 passing.
A first-quarter fumble recovery by Bill Yarborough off a sack by Shane Bothel led to Buckley’s second field goal and a penalty on a fake punt attempt by the Eagles set up the scoring drive for the Midshipmen.
“Great job by our defense,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “It wasn’t just guys getting tackles, it was all who forced the ball to someone else.”
Navy’s triple option gained just 193 yards, 109 rushing, after totaling 485 yards in a loss to Maryland on Monday.
Dobbs was held to 44 yards on 25 carries by Georgia Southern’s defense. He also completed 5 of 8 passes, the final two coming on Navy’s final possession.
“I thought today was going to be like this. I was hoping it wouldn’t be. It’s not just that we didn’t do this or that, it was them (Georgia Southern),” Niumatalolo said.
The Midshipmen’s rushing total was the lowest since a 35-yard effort in 2002 against Connecticut.
“They (Georgia Southern) had a real good scheme. It wasn’t so much things we did, they play good football,” Dobbs said. “It was reassuring to see the defense had our back. It won’t be long before our offense gets going, and then they will know that we (the offense) have their back.”
Navy’s final possession began after it took over after a punt at its own 27 with 6:08 to play. On third-and-18 at the 19, Dobbs threw deep for Greg Jones, who grabbed the ball away from A.J. McCray at the Eagles 37. Another third-down completion of 12 yards to Alexander Teich, plus a personal foul penalty on the Eagles, enabled the Midshipmen to run out the clock.
“That was a huge catch by Greg Jones,” Niumatalolo said. “We had a few plays at the end that allowed us to run the clock out. The way things were going I didn’t want to give them the ball back.”
Georgia Southern’s score came on a 17-yard scoring pass from Jaybo Shaw to J.J. Wilcox early in the third quarter.
“I really thought our defense did a nice job. Navy is a good team with a very efficient offense,” said Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken, a former assistant at Navy. “Unfortunately, we didn’t score more than they did and that’s the bottom line.”