Tyler Allgeier ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and BYU put the clamps on Navy’s usually potent triple option in a season-opening 55-3 rout Monday night inside an eerily empty stadium at the Naval Academy.
The matchup was a showdown of head coaches Kalani Sitake of BYU and Ken Niumatalolo of Navy, who were both raised in La’ie on the North Shore of O’ahu.
A total of 11 players from Hawaii took part in the game, with six players on the BYU roster that claim Hawaii as their home state.
The Cougars scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions, led 31-0 at halftime and coasted to their most lopsided victory since a 70-6 blowout of Wagner in October 2015.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event had none of the pageantry and atmosphere usually associated with a football game at Navy. There were no lavish tailgates in the parking lot, no flyover before the opening kickoff, the Brigade of Midshipmen was not allowed in the stadium and the 34,000 seats remained vacant due to restrictions ordered by the state of Maryland.
It took some doing to make this game happen. The Midshipmen were originally scheduled to open against Notre Dame and the Cougars were supposed to play Utah, but both those games got scrapped. So the athletic directors of Navy and BYU arranged this matchup, which marked the first time since 1989 these schools played each other.
With no one in the stands and no cheerleaders on the sideline, all the noise was made by the players — especially those in front of the Cougars bench. The offense yelled when the defense repeatedly stuffed Navy’s bid to move the ball, and the defense roared as Allgeier, Lopini Katoa and quarterback Zach Wilson moved downfield at will.
Allgeier averaged 9.4 yards per carry, Katoa ran for 80 yards and scored twice, and Wilson went 13 for 18 for 232 yards with two touchdowns before leaving in the third quarter.
Navy went 11-2 last year and led the nation in rushing, averaging 360.5 yards per game with Malcolm Perry running the offense. Perry is now with the Dolphins, and his successor at quarterback, senior Dalen Morris, rushed for two yards on seven carries before being pulled with the score 38-0.
BYU finished with 580 yards and Navy could muster only 149 — the second-lowest total in coach Ken Niumatalolo’s 13 years at the school. It was also the team’s most lopsided defeat under his direction.
The contrast in the teams was demonstrated during the first two series. Navy ran three times before punting, and on the Cougars’ first play, Wilson launched long pass to Gunner Romney that fell incomplete.
That loosened up the Navy defense, which offered little resistance during a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended on a 34-yard run by Allgeier.
After another three and out by the Midshipmen, Katoa ran for a 39-yard TD for a 14-0 lead.
The 31-0 deficit at halftime was Navy’s largest at home since trailing by the same score against Connecticut in 2002.
BYU: The Cougars were adept running the ball, efficient passing and dominant defensively. It was almost a flawless performance, one that bodes well for a team looking to sweep an eight-game schedule that includes North Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky.
Navy: Niumatalolo put a priority on keeping his team safe from COVID-19 this summer, and he feared his focus on that chore might have short-changed his players from receiving instruction on blocking and tackling. His concern was well-founded.
BYU faces another service academy, Army, on the road Sept. 19.
Navy opens play in the American Athletic Conference at Tulane on Sept. 19.