Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was on the verge of multiple NCAA records as he was set to finish his illustrious career with the Midshipmen in the Military Bowl against the Pitt Panthers. By the end of the day, Reynolds became the all-time leader in touchdowns and rushing yards by a quarterback in a dominating 44-28 victory over the Panthers in front of an announced crowd of 36,352 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Reynolds led the No. 21 ranked Midshipmen (11-2) to victory by accounting for over 300 yards of offense, 144 on the ground along with four touchdowns. Reynolds finished his career with 88 total touchdowns, an NCAA record. It was also the first time in school history that the Midshipmen reached the 11-win plateau.
The Panthers (8-5) struggled to find any way to stop Reynolds on offense and were unable to score any points on offense until they were down 31-7 in the third quarter. The Panthers would rally to cut the lead to 31-21 with two touchdowns over a 14 second span, but that was as close as they would get.
Navy offense controls the tempo — After Pitt took an early 7-0 lead, compliments of a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown by Quadree Henderson, the Navy offense went to work with back to back first quarter scoring drives to charge out to a 14-7 advantage. Over the span of the two drives, the Midshipmen ran 24 plays for 160 yards and possessed the ball for nearly 13 minutes.
Reynolds scored on short touchdwon runs on both drives, while the offense simply could not be stopped on third down, going 6 for 7 in the first half. Reynolds also was able to use his arm to hurt the Panthers as he completed 7 of 12 for 107 yards and a touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Midshipmen a 21-7 lead.
The Pitt defense simply had no answers to the Navy triple option and forced one punt the entire day. Navy grinded out long scoring drives consistently and cashed in on an incredible 12 of 17 third down conversion attempts.
Mistakes cripple Panther offense — Nate Peterman’s two first half interceptions along with an early miss on a 29-yard field goal attempt by Chris Blewitt only made matters worse for the Panthers. Peterman had a rough day, throwing three picks while completing 13 of 21 for only 137 yards.
Peterman was out passed by Reynolds who was threw for 178 yards with a number of crucial completions that kept the Navy offense on the field.
Disappointing end to Boyd’s career at Pitt? — There’s been plenty of speculation about the future of Panthers star receiver Tyler Boyd and whether or not he will declare for the NFL draft now that his Junior campaign is complete. Many experts see Boyd as a potential first- or second-round pick and most believe he will bolt for the draft. If that is true, his final game as a Panther won’t be remembered as one of his best.
Although Boyd had 108 total yards, he was limited to six catches on the day and his slip in the end zone of Peterman’s second interception of the first half might have cost the Panthers a touchdown. Boyd will go down as one of the Panthers all-time greats, but if today was his final game at Pitt, it has to be considered a disappointment.