Coach Ken Niumatalolo was not all smiles after Navy's 40-14 win over Western Kentucky at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Saturday night.
In fact, he was in tears.
Late in the second quarter, his senior slotback Aaron Santiago went down with an arm injury on his last carry and would not return to the game.
"He is going to be out for a while," Niumatalolo said. "A great, great kid. I'm going to be honest with you, I was kind of in a daze in the second half. Our team was playing great, but to lose one of your guys like that, who has just been a phenomenal human being, it is hard to see that."
Nevertheless, the victory gave Niumatalolo his 29th career win, the most in school history for a coach in his first four years.
In their second meeting with the Hilltoppers, the Midshipmen (2-0) finished with 100 yards passing and 410 on the ground, including two rushing touchdowns by junior John Howell.
In his fifth career start, Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor went 3-for-7 and rushed for 100 yards.
"It is either feast or famine," Niumatalolo said. "We saw that in their play-action. They were either going to hit us in the backfield or our guys were going to be wide open. We took the approach, if you are going to come up that close, we're going to throw it over your heads."
WKU (0-2), which was trying for its first home win in three years, finished with 277 total yards.
Hilltoppers junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes finished with only 51 yards passing and went 7-for-12 before being benched in the third quarter. His backup, redshirt freshman Brandon Doughty, had 102 yards on 12-for-21 passing.
Navy scored on its first possession on a 50-yard run by Howell. A bad snap led to a failed two-point-conversion attempt.
"We made a lot of good plays," Howell said. "But there are definitely a lot of things we need to clean up on the offensive side. We definitely put too many balls on the ground."
Held to 43 yards of total offense in the first quarter, WKU missed a 32-yard field-goal try with 1:34 remaining.
The Midshipmen ended the period with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Proctor to Matt Aiken as time expired.
In the second quarter, Proctor completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Turner with 11:17 remaining, increasing the Mids' lead to 20-0.
Senior running back Bobby Rainey put WKU's first points on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run with 7:13 on the clock before Navy answered with another score.
Santiago ran 4 yards for the Mids, making the score 27-7 with 4:46 left to play.
In the third quarter, Howell scored his second touchdown with a 57-yard rush with 9:10 remaining. Navy missed the point-after attempt and led 33-7.
After Jakes was benched, Doughty went 5-for-9 on a 70-yard drive, capped by Rainey scoring his second touchdown on a 1-yard rush. The quarter ended with the Mids holding a 33-14 lead.
WKU's quarterback woes continued in the fourth quarter, when Doughty was intercepted by junior Tra'ves Bush, who returned it for a 49-yard touchdown.
It was Bush's first career interception and first touchdown.
"Early in the third quarter, the [defense] kept telling me, 'You're going to pick it off, you're going to pick it off.' When it finally happened, I was like, 'You all called it,'" Bush said.
The interception sealed Navy's win in front of an announced 19,409.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun