Navy Shuts Out No. Illinois, Sail Toward Winning Season

Navy beats Northern Illinois 16-0

DEKALB, Ill. -- Quarterback Ricky Dobbs scored a touchdown and ran for 124 yards in his first start to lead Navy to a 16-0 victory over Northern Illinois on Tuesday night.

Navy (7-4) scored on its first two possessions and held the ball for more than 17 minutes in the first half as they beat the Huskies (6-6) for the second straight year.

Dobbs, a sophomore who carried the ball 25 times, fumbled on his team's first play at the Navy 9. He alertly recovered the loose ball and led the Midshipmen on an 81-yard drive that was capped by Matt Harmon's 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

Nearly nine minutes later, Dobbs finished a 10-play, 85-yard second quarter drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

"Other than that (fumble) it was like everything we've been working on in practice," said Dobbs, the sixth Navy quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards in his first start. "Unfortunately we couldn't put up more points, but we were moving at will."

In the third quarter, Navy safety Emmett Merchant picked off a pass from Northern Illinois' Chandler Harnish and returned it 29 yards into Huskies territory. Ten plays later, Navy went up 16-0 on Eric Kettani's one-yard TD run with 2:21 remaining in the period.

"I thought Ricky played solid," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We just wanted to make sure he managed the game ... We just wanted to make sure he took care of the ball, and I thought he did that.

"Overall, I think our offense did a great job of controlling the ball and making the best of all our possessions."

Dobbs credited the defense for the offense's success.

"The key stops allowed us to settle down and take our time to score," he said.

Kettani rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries, and Harnish led Northern Illinois with 14 carries for 65 yards. He was 14-of-24 for 116 yards passing.

"We moved the ball but we just couldn't finish," Huskies coach Jerry Kill said. "Overall, our offense played well. We turned it over a couple of times and didn't get it back and you can't do that against Navy."

The Midshipmen clinched a winning season with two games to play, including the annual showdown with Army on Dec. 6 in Philadelphia. Navy will also play in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 20 in Washington D.C.

Northern Illinois' slim bowl hopes were dashed with the loss.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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