Dobbs directs Navy over Army
PHILADELPHIA – Ricky Dobbs sat in a small room deep inside Lincoln Financial Field and recalled a team meeting from earlier this season. Navy had just lost to Air Force, the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy was slipping away, and the season was on the verge of doing the same.
“We had some very high expectations for ourselves and maybe they got the best of us,” the senior quarterback said. “We had that meeting and just said, ‘We have a lot of football to play and we need to start having fun.’ ”
Nothing is more fun than beating Army.
Dobbs threw the longest touchdown pass in the 111-year history of the storied rivalry – 77 yards to John Howell – Wyatt Middleton had the longest fumble return in Navy history, and the Midshipmen extended their winning streak against the Black Knights to nine straight with a 31-17 win Saturday.
Dobbs passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns for Navy (9-3), one of 24 seniors to never lose to their rivals from West Point. The happy-go-lucky quarterback turned the ball over four times – three fumbles and an interception in the end zone – but also ran for a team-high 54 yards.
“Those turnovers drive you crazy,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said, “but that’s Ricky.”
Trent Steelman threw for 128 yards and two scores for Army (6-6), but it was his fumble late in the first half that put the Black Knights in a hole too deep to escape.
They already trailed 17-7 with first-and-goal at the Navy 3 when Steelman was stood up on a quarterback keeper. The ball squirted from his hands and right to Middleton, who turned around to see nobody in a black jersey between him and the goal line. The 98-yard return made it 24-7 at halftime, silencing the gray-clad Cadets standing in their customary corner of the stadium.