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Around The Fleet

Midshipmen Set Sail in Military Bowl

Navy wins in record fashion

The U. S. Naval Academy Midshipmen squared off on the gridiron against the University of Pittsburg Panthers at the 8th Annual Military Bowl at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium presented by Northrop Grumman.

The Midshipmen were victorious, defeating the Panthers 44-28. This year's Military Bowl was one for the history books with many bowl records being broken and made.

This was the 40th time the Midshipmen and Panthers have squared off, but the first time in a bowl game. This was Navy's 12th bowl appearance in their last 13 seasons and second Military Bowl. Navy came into the game with nine straight home game wins, their longest home winning streak since 1982.

The game opened with members of Team Fastrax Parachute Jump Team landing on the field. Fastrax consists of military veterans from former Army Rangers to Special Forces that have over 300,000 combined jumps. After the jump team landed, Old Glory was unfurled on the field as Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016, sung the National Anthem.

The pre-game ceremony was completed with a flyover by the "Gunslingers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105. VFA-105 is currently conducting workups in preparation for deployment this summer aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Three photos Navy midshipman holding the American flag, fans and Navy running the football.

Three photos Navy midshipman holding the American flag, fans and a Navy midshipman running the football along a Panthers defenseman at the 8th Annual Military Bowl game.

Navy stormed the field to the roars of a sold out crowd of 36,352 people, the second largest in bowl history and largest crowd since the bowl moved to Annapolis in 2013. Navy met Pittsburg at the 50-yard line for the coin toss conducted by Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Command Sergeant Major John Troxell, along with eight recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration awarded for valor in the face of enemy danger. Among the awardees was Hershel "Woody" Williams, who fought in World War II, and is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Navy won the coin toss, with Austin Grebe kicking off for the Midshipmen to start the game. Pittsburg came back with a 100-yard kickoff return for the first touchdown of the game. This was only the second bowl game that this has happened to Navy.

The first quarter ended with the Midshipmen leading 14-7 with Keenan Reynolds scoring both touchdowns and recording his career 524th point, an NCAA record by a non-kicker.

Light drizzle began late in the second quarter, but that didn't deter Keenan Reynolds from sending an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Carmona, his first career touchdown, with 1:41 remaining in the quarter leading Pittsburg 21-7 at the half.

The 3rd quarter opened with great blocking by Navy leading to a 26-yard touchdown run by Navy's Demond Brown. With about 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Keenan Reynolds made a 48-yard run to make him the Football Bowl Division record holder for career rushing yards by a quarterback and now leads the Naval Academy in passing, rushing and receiving.

Navy's Austin Grebe kicked a 35-yard field goal to push Navy's lead to 31-7, but Pittsburg came back late in the 3rd quarter scoring two touchdowns to bridge to gap 31-21.
Three photos of Navy midshipman running the football and celebrating their win.

Three photos of Navy midshipman running the football and celebrating their win at the 8th Annual Military Bowl.

With a 15-yard run with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game, Navy increased their lead 38-21 with a touchdown by Toneo Gulley, but Pittsburg wasn't done, fighting back with a 45-yard touchdown by Qadree Ollison.

With less than five minutes remaining in the game Keenan Reynolds came up big with a 9-yard touchdown, leading the Midshipmen 44-28. This was Reynolds's 88th career touchdown and captured the NCAA record for all-time total touchdowns. With just over three minutes remaining on the clock, Navy's Brendon Clements came up with an interception making a Military Bowl record second interception of the game.

"There is a lot of celebrating going on [in the locker room]," said Navy's head coach, Ken Niumatalolo. "It is the last time we will be together as a team. I'm so grateful for this team, they are great kids. You see the stuff they have done on the field and all they have accomplished."

Navy captured a school-record 11 wins and was third straight bowl victory for the first time in school history. Keenan Reynolds ended his football career with the Naval Academy on a high note, being named the game's most valuable player.

"Everything has to come to an end," said Reynolds after the game. "We were a little upset we weren't going to a New Year's Six Bowl game; that was one of our goals. But what better way to end it than to play at home and set the records for the most wins in a season and by a senior class."
AHM graphic of Keenan Reynolds a U.S. Naval Academy record breaker football star

All Hands Magazine graphic of Keenan Reynolds a U.S. Naval Academy record breaker football star.