Navy 39, Eastern Michigan 7
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)—To Craig Candeto, it was Navy’s biggest win in four years.
He didn’t exactly have a lot of other choices.
Navy’s 39-7 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday gave the Midshipmen their first 2-1 start since 1997, their last winning season. Navy went 3-30 over Candeto’s first three seasons.
“It’s big, psychologically,” Candeto said. “It’s been tough around here the last three years. Last year, we came out and won the first game, then lost the second game. I think it’s a big step for us to come out and win our third game and put ourselves on the winning side.”
Navy (2-1) has won consecutive home games for the first time since 1997, also the last season the Midshipmen started 2-1. Eastern Michigan (1-3) committed six turnovers in losing its third straight game.
“You can’t beat a high school team giving up five turnovers,” Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Woodruff said. “Mathematically, you are out of the game with that. That was frustrating because the defense was playing well.”
Led by Candeto (18 carries, 72 yards), slotback Tony Lane (5-83) and fullback Kyle Eckel (13-56), Navy outgained Eastern Michigan 372-32 on the ground.
Navy took advantage of three first-quarter turnovers by Eastern Michigan to take control.
“Our defense played a heck of a game today” Candeto said. “They kept giving us the football. We blew some opportunities early, but they hung in there, put the goose egg up for us and we came through in the second half. “
With the Eagles driving from the Navy 15, Navy’s Josh Smith intercepted Chinedu Okoro’s pass at the 2, ending the threat.
Later in the quarter, on a punt from deep in Navy’s territory, Eastern Michigan’s Chris Roberson fumbled and Eddie Carthan recovered at the Eagles 35.
Six plays later, Candeto hit Eric Roberts over the middle with a 15-yard touchdown pass. Candeto’s 2-point pass to Amir Jenkins gave the Midshipmen an 8-0 lead.
Navy got the ball back on the ensuing possession when Okoro’s pass was intercepted by Eli Sanders at the Navy 28. Navy’s 15-play drive was capped by Geoff Blumenfeld’s 29-yard field goal, increasing the Midshipmen’s lead to 11-0.
In the third quarter, Navy got a 32-yard touchdown run by Tony Lane and a 17-yard touchdown run by Trey Hines.
Okoro’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Roberson with 7:13 left prevented Navy’s first shutout since 1994.