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Dobbs keeps Navy in command


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POSTED: Sunday, December 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA » Given his proficiency and high level of productivity, it was obvious that the Navy game plan would center on quarterback Ricky Dobbs.

True to the X's and O's, Dobbs carried Navy to a 17-3 win yesterday over Army before 69,541 at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was Navy's eighth straight win over Army, as the Mids captured their seventh consecutive Commander-in-Chief Trophy. They have now knocked off Air Force and Army a combined 15 consecutive times.

With the win, Navy goes to 9-4 and a Dec. 31 date with Missouri in the Texas Bowl. Army finished at 5-7, but a win yesterday would have made the Black Knights bowl eligible. The five victories were the most by an Army team since 1996.

As the cornerstone of the Navy attack, Dobbs simply took charge. He had 33 rushing attempts for 113 yards. During one part of a dominating second half, Dobbs carried the ball 16 times in 21 plays. The attempts were the second most in his career, topped only by his 42 carries for 224 yards against SMU last season.

“;We try to put the ball in Ricky's hands,”; said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. “;Offensively, we recovered from a sloppy first half, and the defense gave us a chance to win. These rivalry games are so difficult to win, but we do our talking with our pads.”;

Rather, Navy did its talking with Dobbs' ability to find gaps in the Army line and his staying power. Above all, Dobbs displayed durability and a penchant for sustaining drives.

In the process, Dobbs rewrote a number of personal marks. It was his fourth straight 100-yard game. It was also the eighth time in his Navy career Dobbs rushed for more than 100 yards.

“;We felt pressure in this one,”; said Dobbs, who was named the game's MVP. “;This was a different Army team than we faced in the past, and they seem to have a newfound confidence. We struggled in the first half, but then stuck to the basics that we know.”;

If the Army defense knew all about Dobbs' running ability, the Black Knights may have overlooked his ability to strike through the air. Dobbs, a junior from Douglasville, Ga., tempered the Army defense with a timely completion at the least expected moment.

While the Mids were sitting fourth in the nation in rushing, their penchant for throwing is not a vital component of the arsenal. Yet Dobbs found a vulnerable spot in the Army defense, and a touchdown pass early in the second half acted as a catalyst for the win.

Down 3-0, the Mids faced a second and 8 from the Army 25. On play-action, Dobbs connected with slotback Marcus Curry on a 25-yard scoring strike with 8:55 left in the third. Curry managed to get behind linebacker Steven Erzinger, and Dobbs hit the sophomore from Carrollton, Texas, in stride.

“;I didn't think I'd be that wide open, but it worked out that way,”; Curry said. “;Definitely, that drive and the touchdown turned the game around. You always like to cap a drive with a big touchdown, and we managed to do that.”;

If Dobbs and the offense found ways to keep Army off balance, the defense turned in one of its best efforts of the season. Through three quarters, the Navy defense held Army to three first downs, 89 yards on the ground and 0 yards in the air. Plus, Army managed only four offensive plays in the third period.

“;(Army) gave us a few wrinkles, like the fullback carrying more, but we were prepared,”; said linebacker Ross Pospisil. “;The scout team this week did a great job, and gave us a great foundation. Everyone here fights real hard, and we clearly believe in ourselves. That showed (Saturday).”;

Though Army amassed its most wins in more than a decade, and has clearly showed improvement, the Black Knights proved little match for Navy's proficient option offense.

Make that no answer for Dobbs.