In the first bowl game for the Virginia Cavaliers since 2011, many were hoping UVa would make a statement against the Navy Midshipmen. Come out, shut down the triple option, overmatch the Navy defense with speed and intensity, and win the Military Bowl easily.
What happened was the complete opposite: a dud. The Cavaliers came out and laid an absolute egg, losing 49-7.
Sure, it started out well. Joe Reed took the opening kick 98 yards to the house—his second kickoff return for a touchdown this year—to give the Hoos a 7-0 lead.
But after that, it was all Navy, all the time.
At the half, Kurt Benkert was 8-20 for 69 yards with an interception. The rushing attack was arguably worse, amassing only 10 yards on 10 attempts and a fumble by Joe Reed.
Meanwhile, Navy held a 28-7 lead, 264 yards on the ground, and did not even have to attempt a pass.
It did not get better in the 2nd half. The Cavalier defense held Navy on their first drive to a punt, but the fair catch was muffed, leading to the 3rd UVa turnover of the day and—just a few plays later—a 35-7 Navy lead.
While the fans were busy praying the refs were going to start a running clock, the highlight of the 2nd half had to be UVa’s punter, Lester Coleman, dropping to a knee to field a low snap. With Coleman’s knee down when he caught the snap, the play was blown dead, giving Navy the ball on the UVa 23-yard line. The Mids would score off the error to make it 49-7.
UVA punter demonstrates why you don't field a snap with your knee down. pic.twitter.com/EWSr2Z6UC2— CFB Gif'er (@CFBgifer) December 28, 2017
Navy finished the game with 7 touchdowns to Virginia’s 11 first downs. UVA was 4-of-13 on third down, while Navy converted 9 of their 16 chances. Benkert’s final game as a Cavalier saw him complete just 15 out of 34 passes (with no help from his wide receiving corps, who had about as many drops as they did receptions). Navy possessed the ball for more than 41 minutes of game time.
UVa put up only 163 yards, their season-low for 2017.
The loss moves UVa’s bowl record to 7-12 all time, with their last bowl victory comes 12 years ago in the 2005 Music City Bowl against Minnesota. The Navy win gives the Midshipmen their first win in the series since 1986 and extends their dominance in the series with 29 wins to just 11 for UVa.