Dobbs runs for five touchdowns as Navy beats Delaware
Navy's offense has a swagger, particularly when it gets within 20 yards of the end zone. As senior guard Osei Asante put it: "In the red zone, we should never be stopped. It's automatic points when we get down there."
With a weapon like junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs, it's not surprising the Midshipmen feel that way. In their 35-18 victory over division I-AA Delaware on Saturday, the Midshipmen made five trips into the red zone. Each of them ended with a Dobbs touchdown.
His five scores -- which totaled 10 yards -- set a Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium record. Dobbs has scored 22 touchdowns this season, which breaks the single-season school record set by running back Bill Ingram in 1917. His 22 rushing touchdowns are also one shy of the NCAA single-season record for a quarterback (held by Florida's Tim Tebow and Air Force's Chance Harridge).
"The record itself, I think it goes to our offensive line and the fullbacks blocking on each play," said Dobbs, who missed most of two games last month while resting a cracked right kneecap. "To have this team achieve a record like that, this offense achieve a record like that, is definitely a blessing in itself. The hard work actually pays off."
The Midshipmen (8-3) have won eight games for the seventh straight season. They managed to avoid a stumble following last week's thrilling 23-21 victory at then-No. 19 Notre Dame, and they gave their 32 seniors a proper sendoff in their final game in Annapolis.
Throughout the week, Navy's players and coaches spoke openly about the dangers of this game. The Midshipmen remembered what happened the last time they beat Notre Dame: They followed up their streak-busting, triple-overtime victory in South Bend in 2007 with a wild 74-62 shootout win at North Texas. They also remembered what happened the last time they faced Delaware: Quarterback Joe Flacco picked them apart in a 59-52 win that same season.
The Blue Hens (6-4), who started a transfer from Penn State at quarterback (junior Pat Devlin) and a transfer from Wisconsin at running back (senior Jerry Butler), actually outgained the Midshipmen on offense in Saturday's game, 370 yards to 320, and led 9-7 at halftime.
"Unfortunately, it took us the first half for our guys to realize how good those guys were," said Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo, whose team gets its first bye of the season next week. "We tried to emphasize all week how good this team was and make sure we don't take anything for granted. We were in a battle."
Two touchdowns by Dobbs -- the latter set up by a career-long 46-yard scamper by the quarterback -- helped give the Midshipmen a 21-12 advantage early in the fourth quarter. On Delaware's next possession, sophomore defensive end Jabaree Tuani hit Devlin from behind (earning a sack), forced the ball loose and then pounced on it on the Blue Hens 37-yard line. Niumatalolo called that play "the turning point in the game." Tuani said, "It's like getting a touchdown if you're on offense."
Ivin Jasper, Navy's offensive coordinator, always tells his fullbacks that if they get a chance to score, they better take it. Because if they get stopped just short of the goal line, they know what's coming next: The ball is going to Dobbs, who runs like a fullback. Fourteen of Dobbs's touchdowns this season have come on runs of three yards or less, including all five scores against Delaware.
Sophomore fullback Alexander Teich, who started in place of junior Vince Murray (in uniform, but resting a sore shoulder), set up Dobbs's second and fourth touchdowns with runs that ended inside the five-yard line. Early in the third quarter, Teich was tripped up at the one following an eight-yard gain. In the fourth quarter, Teich broke loose for a 22-yard run -- his longest of the game -- and was brought down at the two.
Teich finished the game with 57 yards on nine carries. He is still waiting to score his first touchdown this season.
"I wouldn't say I owe him too much because it's his fault he slipped," Dobbs said with a smile. "I told [Teich] that if we get back inside there and he was in the game, I was going to check a fullback play so he could get into the end zone. I'd take getting chewed out by Coach. But they took him out."