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Know Thy Foe: Navy Midshipman

It’s Senior Day at UCF as they face their most unorthodox opponent

Get used to a lot of this from Navy.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The UCF Knights are just two wins away from hosting the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. In the final regular season home game — and Senior Day — they will face the Navy Midshipmen.

Let’s take a look at Navy:

Game #11: Navy Midshipmen

Kickoff: Saturday, November 19th, 11 a.m. ET, FBC Mortgage Stadium, Orlando, Florida


Series: UCF leads 2-1

Last Meeting: Navy won last season, 34-30

In UCF’s first full game with Mikey Keene at the helm in place of the injured Dillon Gabriel, the Knights had a shot to win it in the final seconds but couldn’t punch in the winning score.

About the Midshipmen

This Season: 3-7, 3-4 in The American (8th place)

The Mids have been, well, mid since going to three AAC Championship Games in their first five years in the conference from 2015-2019. They’ve finished with just three wins in each of the past two seasons, equal to their current total. They were picked 10th in The American this preseason.

  • Last week: Lost to #20 Notre Dame in Baltimore, 35-32
  • Key win: At East Carolina, 23-20 in OT
  • Bad loss: Opening game vs. Delaware, 14-7

Duke 2022 Offensive and Defensive Stats

Category Offense ACC Rank FBS Rank Defense ACC Rank FBS Rank
Category Offense ACC Rank FBS Rank Defense ACC Rank FBS Rank
Rush Yards 184.8 3rd 39th 121.1 4th 26th
Pass Yards 236.4 6th 59th 262.2 12th 109th
Total Yards 421.2 4th 40th 383.3 11th 72nd
Points 33.1 5th 33rd 22.8 6th 36th
ACC rankings are out of 14 teams; NCAA out of 131 Source: NCAA

Key Stats:

  • Fewest Penalties per game — 1st in FBS (3.4)
  • Time of Possession — 4th in FBS (34:21 per game)

Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo

Navy v Notre Dame
Ken Niumatalolo
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Coach Niumatalolo is beloved both within and outside Navy and has been named AAC Coach of the Year three times. The former Hawai’i QB has repeatedly declined offers to leave Annapolis despite being there for 16 seasons after taking over for Paul Johnson, who left Navy for Georgia Tech back in 2007.

Key Players

#1 Tai Lavatai — QB

Junior, 6-2, 221 lbs.

42/91, 787 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 115 rushes, 309 yards, 5 TDs

Lavatai led Navy’s 17-point outburst in the 4th quarter to beat UCF last season, running for 57 yards and scoring twice. This season, the Jacksonville native has almost doubled his passing output (from 449 to 787 yards) and orchestrated the Triple Option more like a point guard, enabling five teammates to run for at least 130 yards on the season.

#45 Daba Fofana — RB

Sophomore, 5-8, 205 lbs

155 rushes, 635 yards, 6 TDs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Notre Dame vs Navy
Daba Fofana
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Fullback in the Triple-O is the main running threat, and Fofana has been just that, leading the team in carries, yards, and rushing TDs.

#1 John Marshall — LB

Senior, 6-2, 209 lbs

78 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, 7 passes broken up

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Notre Dame vs Navy
John Marshall
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Marshall is Navy’s top defender in multiple categories. He’s been a tackle machine his entire career but his 6.5 sacks have made him a new threat in the pass rush. He might be slight for a linebacker but he is quick.

Other Stuff To Know

  • This game is between the top two rushing teams in The American — UCF is first, and Navy is second.
  • Navy is the only FBS service academy UCF has ever played.
  • UCF is 35-3 at the Bounce House since 2017. They haven’t lost a conference game at home in a non-COVID season since 2016.