Splitting QB duties working for Navy

The Baltimore Sun

For three quarters Saturday, Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was impressive, leading the Midshipmen to 32 points, 217 yards passing and another 72 yards rushing. But when the heat of the day became too much, Kaheaku-Enhada didn't hesitate and told his coach.

"If you can't go 100 percent, take yourself out," the junior quarterback said. "I knew Jarod was there. We're always there to back each other up."

Jarod Bryant, also a junior, came off the bench for the second time in two weeks to lead a Mids comeback. Against Duke on Saturday he led a 14-point rally capped by a 44-yard last-second field goal that provided a 46-43 win.

"You've got to be ready for anything," said Bryant, named Mr. Football in Alabama as a high school senior.

It could have been the beginning of a quarterback rivalry. Instead, it's the continuation of a complementary relationship as Navy (2-2) looks toward Saturday and the first round of the Commander in Chief's Trophy competition.

The trophy goes to the military academy team - Navy, Air Force or Army - that produces the best record each season against the other two. Navy is seeking its fifth straight trophy. The first game in the round robin is Saturday, when Air Force (3-1) comes to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"Kaipo is doing a great job running the offense, and Jarod is taking care of the football," quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper said. "They understand we need them both, and they don't see it as a competition."

The victory over Duke followed the Ball State game in which Navy coach Paul Johnson attempted to spark his team by starting Bryant in the second half. Navy rallied and drove for what would have been the winning field goal as time expired, but the Mids missed the 32-yard kick and lost, 34-31, in overtime when a potential touchdown-scoring pitch was fumbled by Bryant. No one felt worse than he did, and no one was more delighted to find success the next week.

"It isn't often that you do get a chance to redeem yourself," Bryant said.

Jasper said if the team had taken care of its responsibilities and made the late field-goal attempt, Bryant wouldn't have been in position to fumble.

"Jarod's thing has always been taking care of the football," Jasper said. "Against Ball State, he came in and gave us a chance to win."

With Kaheaku-Enhada, who as a third-string player two years ago tended to turn the ball over, the Mids have a hard worker who has become much more protective of the ball as he has gotten more game experience.

He said Saturday, though, was the first time he had ever hit "the wall" while playing in a game.

"It was really humid," he said. "I went to Coach at the end of the third quarter and let him know I needed a break. Coach was like, 'Get in shape.' But telling him was definitely the right thing to do."

Both players talk about the importance of team over individuals. That could be seen as a product of being at the Naval Academy, but Jasper said it is more about being a good team player.

In Johnson's mind, Kaheaku-Enhada does the better job running the option, reading defenses and dealing the ball, and Bryant can spark energy when coming off the bench and strengthens the running dimension.

"I have confidence in both of them," Johnson said. "We will do just what we have done. They both played well on Saturday, and they both have a role. We will use them how we feel will give us the best chance to win the games. ... I thought Kaipo played really well, and then Jarod came in and led us down the field to a couple of scores and helped us win the game. He played an outstanding game, as well. Not a lot has changed in my mind."


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