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10/4/15

Navy takes command of CIC series - From Capital Gazette

It's looking awfully bright in Annapolis for the Navy football team despite Saturday's rainy, dreary weather.
Navy started the season with four straight wins for the first time in 11 years and gained the upper hand in recapturing the coveted Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with a 33-11 victory over service academy rival Air Force on Saturday.
Navy coaches and players will tell you that their motto this year is "1-0," meaning don't look further than the next game.
But they will also tell you that it's always sweet to beat another service academy.
"These games are always so emotional,'' said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. "We just tried to keep the main thing, the main thing.''
Navy's got a few new main things on the agenda this season with its entry into the American Athletic Conference, but Army and Air Force are still No. 1 in the gun sights.
"This is a big one for us,'' Niumatalolo said. "Playing the other service academies is a huge deal here. We're really excited to be in the AAC, but these two games against Army and Air Force are what (the players) came here for.''
Linebacker Daniel Gonzales, who led Navy with 11 tackles, said there was a little different feeling after this victory than the previous three.
"The locker room was a little rowdier,'' Gonzales said. "Knowing we lost last year (at Air Force) and how good it feels this year, it's pretty incredible.''
All due respect to Army, but this has become the elite service academy rivalry in terms of competitive balance.
The last 18 winners of the Navy-Air Force game have won the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy.
And unlike Navy's annual mismatch with Army, most of these games have been true nail-biters. Before Saturday, the last seven Navy-Air Force games had been decided by 10 points or less.
Saturday's 22-poinht victory was Navy's largest margin of victory in the series since 1978.
By comparison, Navy has won 13 straight games over archrival Army and only three of those games – all in the last four years – have been closer than 10 points.
The Black Knights, who gave Penn State a 20-14 battle on Saturday, are all that stand in the way of Navy returning the coveted service trophy to its customary spot in the rotunda at Bancroft Hall.
After Saturday's destruction of Air Force, the Mids are looking like a lock to wrap up the CIC trophy for the 10th time in 13 years and 23 of the last 26.
"It was a very intense week,'' said Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. "There's a lot of pageantry with the CIC trophy and it being a service academy game, but at the end of the day, it's just another game.''
However, this is looking more and more like it's not just another season for the Midshipmen, who need just two victories in their remaining eight games to assure themselves of a spot in the Military Bowl, which will be played for the third straight season at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
This season the Mids have a stellar defense to match their potent offense.
The Mids have only yielded an average of 15 points a game through the first third of the season. Last year, they gave up an average of 27.3 points a game and surrendered an average of 24.4 in 2013. Navy already has surpassed last season's total of fumble recoveries, compiling eight so far. They also have seven sacks after getting just eight last year.
Navy shut out Air Force in the first half, using four turnovers to hold a team scoreless in the opening half for the first time since its win over Army in 2013. And the Mids finally yielded their first rushing touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter.
Despite the gloomy weather for the 32,705 faithful in Annapolis, Navy fans had plenty to cheer for the third time home game this year.
It's been steady as she goes for Navy with this season mimicking one of Navy's methodical touchdown drives.
The Mids opened with a comfortable 48-10 rout of Colgate, an FCS also ran. They followed with an impressive conference debut, a 45-21 victory over East Carolina, and a 28-18 victory over UConn in their first AAC road game.
Saturday's victory over a service academy rival simply added to the Mids' growing momentum.
But the Mids insist they'll stick to their "1-0" motto.
"The big picture is we're 4-0 and the record speaks for itself, but we know we can get better,'' said Navy said senior guard E.K. Binns. "It's nice to win a couple games, but there's still a long way to go.''
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