ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In a game marked by weather delays and defensive prowess, the Navy Midshipmen (1-1) defeated the Wagner Seahawks (0-2) 24-0 on their home turf at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The triumph is a milestone for Navy’s head coach Brian Newberry, marking his first win and the team’s first shutout since a 34-0 victory against Army in 2008. The game drew a crowd of 29,798 spectators.
“You always like to get the win. Winning is hard, so it’s always good to win,” said Newberry. “I told the players in the locker room that there are wins that you feel great and ecstatic about and wins that you just feel okay about. I think that was a win we feel okay about.”
The game experienced two lightning delays totaling 1 hour and 32 minutes. The first delay occurred 22 minutes before kickoff, and the second paused the game for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the third quarter.
Navy’s senior quarterback Tai Lavatai put up an impressive performance with 227 yards of total offense, which included 161 yards passing and one touchdown. Lavatai led the Midshipmen on a 7-play, 77-yard drive, punctuated by a 3-yard touchdown run by Daba Fofana during their first possession. A 45-yard pass to Anton Hall stood as the highlight of this early drive.
Sophomore Blake Horvath also took snaps at quarterback, resulting in a missed field goal and a punt. Lavatai returned in the second half, sealing the game with a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior Camari Williams during a rapid 5-play, 80-yard drive. The pass marked Williams’ first career touchdown.
“The delay probably didn’t help,” admitted Newberry, reflecting on the team’s performance after the second weather interruption. “I don’t think we handled it all that well in the first half. We made some adjustments but came out flat in the second half.”
Navy’s defense held the Seahawks to just 227 yards of total offense. The Midshipmen also forced two crucial turnovers in the red zone: a forced fumble by Will Harbour recovered by Jacob Busic, and an end-zone interception by Rayuan Lane. Senior defensive tackle Clay Cromwell led Navy with 8 tackles, while junior corner Elias Larry and junior safety Mbiti Williams both tied career-highs with 7 stops apiece.
Sophomore Eli Heidenreich concluded Navy’s scoring with a 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Wagner’s offense struggled throughout, led by Zachary Palmer-Smith with 52 rushing yards and second-team quarterback Damien Mazil throwing for 100 yards.
The Midshipmen now prepare for their American Athletic Conference opener against the 2-0 Memphis Tigers on Thursday.