Navy Captures 2023 CSFL Championship with 28-23 Win Over Army
By: Doug DeBiase | Collegiate Sprint Football League | November 12, 2023
Courtesy of Navy Athletics
WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Navy sprint football team (7-1) avenged its only loss of the season with a 28-23 victory against Army (6-1) in the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) Championship on Sunday afternoon at Shea Stadium in West Point, N.Y. The win was the third consecutive title for the Midshipmen.
The Navy sprint football team has 40 Collegiate Sprint Football League championships (33 outright) in the program's 78-year history - the most among any school in league history. Since the League split into divisions in 2017, Navy has played in five CSFL Championship games (2018, '19, '21, '22, '23), winning four titles (2018, '21, '22, '23).
"I'm speechless," head coach Major Alfonso Meidus, USMC exclaimed after the game. "I have a remarkable group of young men that believe in each other and in their preparation. When you have that dynamic, combined with a staff that completely invested everything they had for this moment, there was never any doubt. I want to thank all those who made this season a great one."
Additionally, the CSFL Championship was the final game for Meidus. In three seasons at the helm, he finished with a 23-1 (.958) record as a head coach with three CSFL Championships and a pair of Star wins. A 2009 graduate of the Naval Academy, Meidus was a member of the Navy sprint football team from 2005 to 2008, helping the Midshipmen win the CSFL Championship in 2005, 2007, and 2008. During his tenure as a player, Navy was 25-1 (.962) overall with a perfect 8-0 record against Army, including four Star victories.
The two teams were fairly balanced with Army holding a slight 278 to 269 advantage in total yards. The Black Knights held the edge in passing yards, finishing with 236 compared to 96 by the Midshipmen. On the ground, the Mids exerted their dominance, rushing for 173 yards compared to 42 by the home team.
Brandon Atwood led the team with 109 yards on the ground, while adding 96 yards through the air on 11-for-20 passing with a pair of touchdowns. Tyler Massena added 23 yards rushing, while Manny Walt contributed 16. Jobe Long made his one carry of the game count as the senior ran for 10 yards on a fake field goal for a first down to set up a touchdown.
Long added 19 yards receiving on a team-high four carries. Kai Sasaki had a pair of catches for 44 yards and a touchdown, while Hunter Gennicks added two receptions for 17 yards and a score. Chris Stumpf also caught two passes for 16 yards.
Dante Carrasco led the team with 11 tackles, while Jake Wolinski added double-digit stops (10) as well. Tyler Cox and Devin Martin added nine tackles apiece. Martin had a team-high two tackles for loss with a sack, while Carrasco added a sack. Mitchell Waters blocked an Army punt that Cox returned 15 yards for a touchdown.
Army was the first team to score, marching down the field 73 yards on 14 plays on the opening drive of the game. Arthur Lavalais capped the drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone to give the home team an early 7-0 lead.
The Midshipmen were forced to punt on their opening drive, but on the ensuing Black Knight drive, the Mids' defense held, forcing a punt. On the punt attempt, Waters got a hand on the ball for the block. Cox picked up the loose ball and returned it 15 yards into the end zone to knot the score at 7-7.
The Black Knights regained the lead in the second quarter as Army converted a 34-yard field goal by Alex Perine to go in front, 10-7, with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half.
The following drive by the Midshipmen gave the visitors the lead. Navy used a solid kickoff return by Andrew Margiotta to start the drive with excellent field position at the Navy 43-yardline. The Mids marched down the field with Atwood finishing off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Gennicks for the Midshipmen to go ahead for the first time in the game, 14-10.
After both teams punted on their opening drives of the second half, Navy increased its lead in the third quarter. Sasaki snagged an Atwood pass out of the sky and dragged a defender into the end zone to extend the Mids' advantage to 21-10 with 9:42 remaining in the third quarter.
The third quarter ended with the Midshipmen driving. The first play of the fourth quarter saw Martin take a handoff and dive into the end zone from one-yard out. The extra point was true extending Navy's lead to 28-10 with 14:57 to play in regulation. On the drive, the Midshipmen appeared to be stopped by the Black Knights and held to a field goal attempt. On the try, Long, who was serving as the holder, caught the snap and scampered around the right side for a first down to move the chains and continue the drive.
Army answered the Navy touchdown to open the fourth quarter. On the ensuing drive for the Black Knights, the home team marched down the field 64 yards on five plays, using a one-yard dive into the end zone to trim the Mids' lead to 28-17 with just over 12:30 to play.
Following a Midshipmen punt, the Black Knights got the ball back. The Mids were able to record a big sack during the drive, forcing a third and long. On the next play, the Army quarterback Mikal Willeke was able to hit his receiver in the corner of the end zone. Army attempted a pass for the two-point conversion to pull to within three, but Nadir Emlemdi was able to knock the ball away, keeping the score 28-23 with 7:55 remaining in regulation.
The Midshipmen received the kickoff with a five-point lead and just under eight minutes on the game clock. The Mids worked the clock, churning out 40 yards on 13 plays to erase all remaining time on the clock and secure the victory.
Navy finished the 2023 season 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the CSFL South Division. The Midshipmen won their fifth straight division title and third straight CSFL Championship. The Mids tallied 277 points on the year (34.6 points per game), while holding opponents to 86 points (10.8 ppg).