The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 26, 2013

Panthers aiming to sink Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Pittsburgh and Navy bring vastly different goals into today’s game.

The Panthers (4-2) are seeking their best start since 2009. The Midshipmen (3-3) are trying to avoid only their second three-game losing streak since 2003.

Navy is coming off losses at Duke and Toledo. But the Midshipmen are 2-0 at home, a trend coach Ken Niumatalolo is eager to see continue.

“We’ve played well at home,” he said. “Hopefully, the crowd will help us. We’ve got to get out of this rut.”

It won’t be easy. Both of Pittsburgh’s losses have come to teams currently in the Top 25.

Here are five things to watch when Pittsburgh plays Navy:

Hot and cold: The Panthers have been inconsistent on offense. Senior quarterback Tom Savage put on one of the finest passing performances in program history in a 58-55 shootout win against Duke, completing 23 of 33 attempts for 424 yards and an ACC record-tying six touchdowns.

Junior tailback Isaac Bennett ran for a career-high 240 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 35-24 win over Old Dominion.

Pitt also piled up 49 points and 527 total yards against New Mexico, but the Panthers have also stumbled offensively. They scored only nine points on 210 total yards in a loss to Virginia Tech, and produced just 199 total yards and were shut out for the final three quarters in a 14-3 victory over Virginia.

Position switch: Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green made a somewhat surprising and fairly significant change in the secondary, shifting Parrish Gaines from cornerback to safety.

With 24 career starts, Gaines is the most experienced member of the secondary, and Green determined he was needed more at rover. Gaines replaces Wave Ryder, who struggled the past two games. Navy expects starting free safety Chris Ferguson to play against Pittsburgh. Ferguson suffered an ankle injury in the first half against Duke two weeks ago, then sat out the Toledo game.

Tricky option: Pitt faces the challenge of slowing down the triple option. Navy ranks sixth nationally in rushing offense with 304.2 yards per game after amassing 419 yards on the ground against Toledo. Pitt will see a similar offense next week in a game at Georgia Tech, which is led by former Navy head coach Paul Johnson. Asked if facing option attacks in consecutive contests was an advantage, Panthers coach Paul Chryst said, “It depends on how we play. The next two weeks are totally different than what we saw earlier. Our scout team has to do a great job of helping us get ready for it.”

The Donald: Stopping Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be a priority for Navy. The 6-foot, 285-pound senior has been a fixture in opposing backfields this season, leading the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss per game.

Navy’s interior offensive line has been leaky at times this season, especially last Saturday when pressure up the middle led to six sacks by Toledo. Guards E.K. Binns and Jake Zuzek will see the most of Donald, but the Midshipmen might double-team the All-American candidate as often as possible.

Kicking it: Navy kicker Nick Sloan kicked the game-tying field goal to force overtime against Toledo, but he also missed a conversion in the second extra session and botched a 38-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game.

Sloan said he has been pulling his head too often, a fundamental flaw that tends to cause kicks to miss wide left.

Sloan has struggled so far this season, already missing two extra points after going 41 for 41 in that department as a freshman.

He has also misfired on three field-goal tries, including a couple of chip shots.

Niumatalolo said Sloan remains the team’s best option at kicker and just needs to improve his technique.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads