There hasn't been much to smile about this season with Navy football.
With the health of quarterback Kriss Proctor in question prior to Saturday's game against Troy, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said his senior signal caller did little more than smile to show he was ready to play. Proctor, who missed the Notre Dame game with a dislocated elbow, rushed for two scores and threw one touchdown; as Navy won 42-14, on Senior Day.
"I saw him sitting on the training table taping his elbow. He didn't say anything he just smiled, so I just knew he was going to play," Niumatalolo said. "I didn't even ask him if he was going to play. I just looked at him and he just kind of smiled and said, 'let's do this.'"
For Navy (3-6), the win signals the end of a six-game losing streak and keeps the team's slim hopes of a trip to the Military Bowl alive. The Mids will need to win their last three regular season games to have the necessary six wins and become bowl eligible.
After turning the ball over on downs to start the game, senior nose guard Jared Marks would bale the stalling Mids offense out after recovering a Troy fumble.
After a one-yard touchdown run by Proctor, Navy took its first lead since the fourth quarter of the East Carolina game.
"I knew after Notre Dame I didn't care how it felt, I was coming back to give these guys a spark. That's what I tried to do and that's what I did today," Proctor said about playing with the elbow injury.
Navy would benefit from another Troy fumble as the first quarter came to a close. Freshman safety Parrish Gaines ripped the ball loose from Shawn Southward, while Collin Sturdivant recovered for the Mids.
"I knew I had to make a play for our team, because this is an important game for our seniors," Sturdivant said.
Two plays later, Proctor found Gee Gee Greene wide open over the middle and the junior slot back raced 48 yards to the endzone for the score.
Navy's ground game would then churn out back-to-back scoring drives, as Alexander Teich and Greene each ran in scores.
Proctor would score on the ground again, this time from five yards out, as the Mids took a 35-0 lead into halftime.
Slot back Aaron Santiago, who returned to action from a broken forearm, rushed for 82 yards in the first half for Navy.
"It's great to be back again," Santiago said.
Troy, who pulled starting quarterback Corey Robinson for Jamie Hampton just before the half, began the second half with a bit of new life. Hampton drove the Trojans 65 yards on 15 plays, as D.J. Taylor capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Backup quarterback Trey Miller entered for Navy as the second half began, while Proctor was removed for precautionary measures.
Navy used 10 straight rushing plays to march down the field, finally scoring with a one-yard rush by senior Mike Stukel.
"I'm very, very happy for our seniors," Niumatalolo said.
Troy would add a second touchdown late, as Robinson threw a 22-yard strike to Chandler Worthy with 3:01 left to play.
So for now it seems there might be something worth smiling about
Navy will now travel to Southern Methodist University next Saturday. It will be the first time the two schools have met for a football game.
"As good as it feels to win after losing those games, we have to get ready for SMU," Niumatalolo said.
Notes: Navy, who averages 2.38 penalties per game, were flagged for two penalties on the opening drive. The Mids finished with four penalties for the game. Kriss Proctor's first quarter rushing touchdown was the first first quarter touchdown scored by Navy since the South Carolina game. Proctor's 48-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter was a career long. Navy defensive coordinator, Buddy Green, left his normal spot on the sideline and coached the defense from up in the box against Troy.