Raise your hand if you thought Navy lost the game last night in the first overtime when sophomore nose tackle Nate Frazier jumped off-sides just as Pitt was about to settle for a 35-yard field goal in the first overtime. Raise your other hand if you thought Navy lost the game after Pitt had the ball first-and-goal at the Navy 2-yard line in double OT. Raise your hand, well, you get the point…
But it was Navy who scored
the final points in a thrilling 48-45 victory over
For those who think the Poinsettia Bowl officials aren't a bit excited at the improved prospects of having the Mids back in their game – check out their web site. For a second I thought I wandered onto www.navysports.com.
Anyway, back to the game – a game in which Navy did its fair share to throw away. From the Frazier snafu, to their tackling-phobic defense, the Midshipmen had to rely on its high-powered offense, a gambling coach, and a few early Christmas presents from Pitt's Dave Wannstedt to pull out the victory.
And while Wannstedt's controversial play-calling will lead many storylines, a few other noteworthy performances also need to be recognized.
For starters, Navy junior quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who accounted for 288 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, is approaching super-star status for the Midshipmen. With the exception of one bad exchange with fullback Adam Ballard, Kaheaku-Enhada took care of the football on a rainy night, when one turnover could have doomed the Mids.
Speaking of Ballard, it seems as though the one-two punch at fullback is really starting to click for Navy. Junior Eric Kettani and the aforementioned senior combined for 131 yards rushing and more importantly, neither seemed to tire near the end of the four-hour marathon.
However, neither Kaipo nor
the fullback tandem should receive as much praise as Navy's all-everything slot
back Reggie Campbell. From his
60-yard kick-off return, to his three touchdowns,
On the defensive side, it's pretty hard to find too many positives especially considering Navy typically does not do too well in the win-loss column when a member of the secondary leads the team in tackles. As a matter of fact, the win over Pitt is the first time this year that this has happened. With 12 tackles, freshman safety Wyatt Middleton not only led the team in the statistical category, he had two crucial tackles that helped force Pitt to punt in their last possession of regulation.
And as much as Navy's goal-line stand at the end of the game can be attributed to poor offensive play-calling, it's still a stop, and a stop for the Midshipmen defense, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, needs to be applauded.
With the victory, Navy
players and fans alike will take a deep breath this weekend as they begin to
look ahead to the