Cincinnati, Ohio—Cincinnati (7-2, 4-1 in the AAC) quarterback Ben Bryant completed 25 of his 35 pass attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bearcats to a 20-10 victory over Navy (3-6, 3-4) in front of 38,461 fans at Nippert Stadium. The crowd was the ninth largest in stadium history.
“I’m proud of how we fought today,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “We are close, but we are not there yet. We have a young team, and we are going to keep fighting.”
Cincinnati took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on two field goals by Ryan Coe.
Navy had a chance to take the lead at the start of the second quarter as quarterback Xavier Arline broke loose for a 27-yard run down to the Cincinnati 14-yard line. The Mids, however, could only gain six more yards and Daniel Davies 25-yard field goal blocked by Jowon Briggs. It was the second time in three games that Davies had a field goal blocked.
Cincinnati made it 13-0 on the ensuing drive as Bryant hit Tyler Scott with a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-one.
Navy would cut it to 10 at the half thanks to a nine-play, 54-yard drive capped off by a Davies 28-yard field goal. Navy had the ball 1st-and-10 at the Cincinnati 15 but would gain just four more yards and had to settle for a field goal attempt for a second time.
Cincinnati made it 20-3 on their first drive of the second half as Bryant threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Scott.
Navy answered right back thanks to a clutch play by backup quarterback Maasai Maynor. Maynor relieved Arline, who left the game with cramps, on a fourth-and-five play at the Cincinnati 44 and threw a 32-yard strike to freshman Nathan Kent to give Navy the ball a the 12 yard line. Maynor would score his first-career touchdown six plays later and the Mids were down just 10 with 1:14 left in the third quarter.
Navy had a chance to cut the lead even further midway through the fourth quarter when they took over at their own 11-yard line with 7:59 left and moved the ball down to the Cincinnati 23, but the Mids would lose four yards over the next three plays and Davies missed a 44-yard field goal to end Navy’s hopes of a comeback.
Arline led the Navy offense with 87 yards rushing on 12 carries. Fullback Anton Hall carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards. Maynor was three-for-five passing for 81 yards.
John Marshall led the Navy defense with 10 tackles, a sack, three tackles for a loss, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Rayuan Lane had 8 tackles, while Dashaun Peele and Colin Ramos had 7 stop each (Ramos also had a sack).
The Mids gave up 299 yards passing, but held the Bearcats to just 55 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Navy will play host to Notre Dame next Saturday at 12 noon at M&T Bank Stadium. Tickets are still available at navysprots.com. The game will be televised by ABC.