Navy's triple option wears down MTSU

FORT WORTH, Texas -- There's nothing complicated about Navy's playbook. And it really doesn't matter which game you look at on film if you're an opposing coach. The bottom line: The Midshipmen run a triple option and execute it well and even with extra weeks to prepare, it's difficult to defend. Just ask Middle Tennessee State.

The Blue Raiders did what they could, even managing to force a few turnovers, which is certainly one way to stop Navy's offense. But in the end, Navy racked up 366 yards on the ground to just 19 through the air in a 24-6 Armed Forces Bowl victory at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. And by the fourth quarter, Navy had worn down the Blue Raiders' defense. Navy rushed for 158 yards in the fourth quarter -- 43 percent of their game total -- in chewing clock and protecting the lead.

It was a 10-6 game when the final frame began, but Navy forced a turnover and cashed in on a few drives to take a 24-6 lead midway through the quarter. They just ran the ball and the clock from there to protect that margin.

Quarterback Keenan Reynolds, a sophomore, ran the offense well, leading the team with 86 net rushing yards on 20 carries. But, as is usually the case in the triple option, Reynolds spread the wealth. Noah Copeland, DeBrandon Sanders and Geoffrey Whiteside each had at least 44 yards and combined for 24 carries.

Reynolds and Sanders each had touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to seal it for Navy. Sanders scored the final points, scampering 41 yards with 9:16 left.

Reynolds finishes the season with 31 touchdowns, the most in Navy history. He's one of just four players in FBS history to have at least 30 rushing touchdowns, joining Montee Ball, Kapri Bibbs and Barry Sanders.

"That is good company," Reynolds said about the mark. "It's great to be champions of the bowl game. This is a tribute to everyone on the team."