By Matthew Postins
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds found himself among rare company after his first-quarter touchdown run in the Armed Forces bowl, as he joined college football’s 30 TD club.
Reynolds became the fourth player in FBS history to rush for 30 or more touchdowns in a season on Monday. He became the second player to accomplish the feat this season, as Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs finished the year with 31 rushing touchdowns.
Reynolds scored his 31st rushing touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter to give the Midshipmen a 17-6 lead.
The other two in the 30 TD club are former Wisconsin star Montee Ball and former Oklahoma State star and Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders.
“It’s huge,” Reynolds said as he held his 8-yard old brother, Dominick, during the postgame press conference. “You say the name Barry Sanders and you can stop right there. One of the greatest. To be in that conversation it’s a humbling experience for me and I never thought I would be in that category. But it takes 11 guys to make a play go, so as much as credit as I get it has to be shuffled around.”
Reynolds has 40 career rushing touchdowns and two years of eligibility remaining. Ball owns the NCAA FBS career record for rushing touchdowns with 77, set last year.
Armed Forces Bowl MVPs
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was the Armed Forces Bowl Most Valuable Player for Navy after rushing for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns, and throwing for another 19 yards.
Middle Tennessee linebacker T.T. Barber was the Blue Raiders’ MVP with 7 tackles, including one for a loss.
The MVPs were selected by the media covering the game.
A new tie-in for 2014
The 2014 Armed Forces Bowl contest will feature a team from the American Athletic Conference, the league announced earlier this season.
The American will send a team to the Armed Forces Bowl in 2014, 2016 and 2018, per the agreement. In 2014 the American is scheduled to play Army, should the Black Knights win six games to reach bowl eligibility.
The tie-in with the American boosts the likelihood of a nearby team playing in the contest. SMU and Houston are both members of the American. In addition, Tulane and Tulsa join the league in 2014.
The American sent four teams to bowl games this season – Cincinnati, Louisville, Central Florida and Houston. Louisville is leaving for the ACC next season.
The official attendance for Monday’s game was 39,246.
Kilgore falls short of all-time MT lead
Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Logan Kilgore fell short of becoming the Blue Raiders’ all time leader in passing yards.
Kilgore, who entered the game with 7,631 yards, threw for only 218 yards against the Midshipmen, finishing his career with 7,849 passing yards. Wes Counts remains MT’s all-time leader in passing yards with 8,007, set from 1998-2001.
Kilgore does leave MT as its all-time leader in passing attempts and listed in the Top 10 of every meaningful passing category in program history.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be the quarterback for this university the last four years,” Kilgore said. “The reason this senior class is so special is we came in on top going to bowl games and we came off a tough season and we didn’t point fingers. We’re making this a habit. It’s huge for the university. The team coming back next year will be excited.”
Stockstill defends Blunt
Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill wasn’t thrilled with the perception that his senior linebacker, Roderic Blunt, was a dirty player.
Blunt was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, the second of which led to his ejection in the fourth quarter and helped propel the Midshipmen’s scoring drive. A reporter asked Stockstill if he agreed with what the reporter characterized as ESPN’s description of Blunt as a “dirty player.”
“That’s not his character,” Stockstill said. “I don’t know how they portrayed him. For someone to say he’s a dirty player doesn’t know him and doesn’t know this program. There were personal fouls on both sides. I’ve known Rod for five years and I coached his dad at Clemson. He’s not (dirty).”
There were five personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the game and four were called on Middle Tennessee.
Jamison has unexpected day for Navy
Safety George Jamison has been a special teams contributor most of this season. But several Navy injuries forced him into the defensive lineup on Monday and he delivered.
Jamison helped tackle Middle Tennessee fullback Corey Carmichael on fourth down of a goal line stand in the third quarter. Jamison also picked off Blue Raiders quarterback Logan Kilgore in the fourth quarter to help set up Navy’s final touchdown.
“I’ve gotten in a few games (on defense) but not much,” Jamison said. “We always expect to play. It’s football and when someone goes down you have to be ready. I was the next guy in. It was a blessing to get in today.”
Monday’s game represented Navy’s 19th bowl game all time and its 10th bowl game in the last 11 seasons. The win improved Navy’s overall bowl record to 8-10-1 and improved the Midshipmen’s record in bowl games played in Texas to 3-2, dating back to Navy’s 20-7 win over Rice in the 1958 Cotton Bowl.
Middle Tennessee’s loss drops their overall bowl record to 3-5, dating back to the 1956 Refrigerator Bowl. As a member of FBS, Monday’s game was the Blue Raiders’ fourth bowl game, all under head coach Rick Stockstill. The Blue Raiders are 1-3 in those games.
2013 Armed Forces Bowl Photo Gallery