USF-Navy notes: History nearly put on hold
Navy senior Keenan Reynolds' fourth-and-goal sneak into NCAA lore Saturday nearly was stuffed.
By his own coach.
Reynolds' 1-yard scoring keeper with 1:49 to play was his 77th career rushing touchdown, tying Montee Ball's NCAA career record. But Reynolds first had to convince Coach Ken Niumatalolo to let him try for the end zone instead of a chip-shot field goal that would've given Navy an eight-point lead.
"We were on the 1-yard line and I knew our offensive line would blow them off the ball," said Reynolds (26 carries, 117 yards), one of three Midshipmen with at least 100 rushing yards in Saturday's 29-17 triumph. "We ran our best play."
But only after Niumatalolo's best instincts were swayed.
"That kid (Reynolds) is a lot smarter than I am. I was going to kid the field goal," Niumatalolo said. "Everything in my coaching mind said kick the field goal and go up eight points. Everything pointed toward that. Just go up eight and they can't beat you, they can only tie. ... So he said, 'Coach...we can get this.'"
STILL ANGRY: Senior husky Jamie Byrd's mid-season surge continued Saturday with 10 tackles, his third consecutive game with at least that many. He accounted for the game's only sack when he shot up the middle late in the third period for a first-down sack of Reynolds.
"Coach (Tom) Allen kind of gave me the chance to freely roam," said Byrd, dubbed the "Angry Byrd" for his knack for bicuspid-rattling shots.
"So it was either sink or add to the blitz, and I just felt like that was the time to add. I blitzed a couple of other times and he got it off just as soon as I got there. And that time I was able to hit it right up the middle and get him."
STILL IN CONTROL: Because the American Athletic Conference opted to put Navy in the West Division, USF still has a theoretical shot at winning the East. The Bulls (4-4, 2-2 in AAC) can win the division if they win out -- against East Carolina, Temple, Cincinnati and UCF -- and Temple loses another league game at some point.
"Our goals are still ahead of us," Coach Willie Taggart insisted. "It's a big one next week...on the road (at ECU) and we have to bounce back if we want to get what we want."
ODDS AND ENDS: Despite running for a season-low 32 yards, sophomore TB Marlon Mack moved into sixth place on USF's career rushing list (1,760). He's 27 yards from moving into the top five. ... CB Deatrick Nichols' forced fumble in the third quarter was only Navy's fourth fumble of the season. ... MLB Auggie Sanchez had a career-best 14 tackles. He has collected 10 or more tackles in four games this season.
AUDIBLE: "Our defense played phenomenal. We gave up some long passes, but they (USF) had a hard time running the ball, and that's a good running team. To hold them to those field goals was huge." -- Niumatalolo