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Navy trounced Virginia in the Military Bowl without completing a single pass

The Midshipmen turned it into a rout.

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Virginia vs Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Navy dominated Virginia in Thursday afternoon’s Military Bowl in Annapolis, 49-7. The Midshipmen allowed a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the game, then prevented the Cavaliers from doing anything else for the final 59:48.

Navy attempted one pass, which fell incomplete. It was the second time this year that Navy won a game without a completion, as the Mids were also 0-for-1 against SMU in a win on Nov. 11. Rival Army has also won three times this year without a completion, including one game in which the Black Knights didn’t even throw a pass.

The game was every bit as lopsided as the final score suggests. Navy controlled the ball for 42:00 and out-gained Navy in total, 452 to 175 (5.9 to 3.2 in yards per play). All of those Navy yards were rushing, of course, while almost all of UVA’s were through the air. The Mids put on a clinic in ball control and efficiency with their flexbone option offense.

The Mids were 3-of-3 on third downs and only had to punt three times. They didn’t commit a turnover, while Virginia committed three that led directly to 14 points.

Navy put two rushers over 100 yards, in QB Malcolm Perry and fullback Chris High. A third rusher, QB Zach Abey, had five touchdowns. Virginia had two good moments: the opening kickoff return by Joe Reed and this gorgeous punt by Lester Coleman:


Virginia’s offense didn’t score a point in either of the Hoos’ final two games of the season. They were also shut out against Virginia Tech in Week 13.

Navy finished 2017 with a 7-6 record, while Virginia finished 6-7. The Hoos were 5-1 before sputtering against a harder schedule down the stretch, but they still made a bowl game for the first time since 2011. They still haven’t won a bowl since 2005, when the Al Groh-coached Cavaliers beat Minnesota in the Music City Bowl.


This year’s Military Bowl will feature a team very familiar with the postseason and one team that hasn’t made it to a bowl game since 2011, when the Navy Midshipmen take on the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (live stream).

Navy may be playing in its 14th bowl game in the past 15 seasons, but it’s coming off a tough, last-minute loss to Army for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Played in inches of snow, the Navy-Army game was decided by one point, with the Black Knights claiming their first trophy in 21 years.

Virginia, on the other hand, hasn’t been to the postseason since 2011, but in Bronco Mendenhall’s second season as head coach, the Cavaliers are bowling. Their offense definitely isn’t the strongest unit on the team, but the defense could give the Midshipmen trouble.

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Streaming: WatchESPN
  • Odds: Virginia and Navy opened with even odds.

Virginia vs. Navy news:

That is Welsh, the winningest coach in UVA’s history - a consummate Navy man who ran his programs by the Blue Angels’ maxim of “you fight like you train, so train like you fight”, but a converted Cavalier who maintains a residence in Charlottesville to this day, almost exactly 17 years after he left the game due to fatigue.

“The Military Bowl is committed to ensuring an awesome Bowl Week experience for the players and our staff spends significant time selecting player gifts that are sure to be enjoyed. We are confident that the Midshipmen and Cavaliers will put this year’s gifts to good use,” Military Bowl President & Executive Director Steve Beck said in their official release.

These two teams are historically intertwined

This year’s Military Bowl matchup marks the 40th time Virginia and Navy have faced off, with the Midshipmen leading the overall series, 28-11 -- according to the UVA record books, the record stands at 27-11 thanks to a forfeit win by Navy from 1895.

In the 21 years from 1974-1994, the teams competed 15 times, with the Hoos last winning five games in a row from 1990-1994. During that 21-year span, legendary head coach George Welsh was in charge of the Navy team from 1973-1981, followed immediately by taking the head coach position for Virginia from 1982-2000 -- where he holds the record as the all-time winningest coach for the Cavaliers. (Welsh is the second-winningest coach for Navy with 55 wins.)

This will be the first time these two teams will face off since 1994, and they’re expecting to add another exciting matchup to the series.

Virginia vs. Navy prediction:

The Midshipmen come out with a chip on their shoulder after giving up the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to Army. Virginia has finally made it to a bowl game, but it has to wait another year for a win in the postseason. Navy gets a win in what will feel like a home game.

Be sure to check out all our bowl predictions here.

College football's first bowl game was almost its last