The game couldn’t have started better for Army as it forced Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs to fumble near midfield on the second play of Navy’s first possession. But Army squandered its chance to get an early lead, giving the ball right back to Navy on its own fumble.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo drew up a game plan to feature Dobbs’ arm, which torched Army’s secondary for two long passes. One 31-yard pass to Aaron Santiago set up a field goal. Later in the first quarter Dobbs threw a 81-yard touchdown pass to slotback John Howell. It was the longest pass play ever in an Army-Navy game, and the first TD of Howell’s career. Army has committed to stopping the run, but these long passes are eventually going to force Army’s defensive coordinator to drop a safety off the line of scrimmage and back into coverage.
Army’s offense is doing its defense favors with three straight three-and-outs. On Army’s third possession the coaches finally took the handcuffs off quarterback Trent Steelman and let him air it out. However he overthrew wide receiver Davyd Brooks, who had gotten behind Navy’s secondary and would have had a sure touchdown.
Army has to be worried that it can’t gash Navy for anything more than a three-yard run. Army’s offensive line has to start getting a push on Navy’s defensive line or Army is going to suffer through its ninth straight loss to Navy.