Saturday, October 24, 2009

Navy Defeats Wake Forest in a Downpour

Navy Defeats Wake Forest in a Downpour
By Trevor Replogle

Annapolis, MD – Coming into Saturday’s Homecoming game, the Navy Midshipmen were fifth in the county in rushing averaging 279 yards per game. Navy hoped to continue that streak without the service of starting quarterback Ricky Dobbs. Dobbs was injured in last week’s overtime victory against SMU.

Wake Forest was coming off a tough ACC loss at Clemson last week 38-3. The Demon Deacons have relied heavily on the arm of their career passing leader, Riley Skinner.

Kriss Proctor stepped in admirably for Dobbs and led the Navy offense to a 13-10 win over Wake Forest in front of 31,907 fans. The Navy rushing attack pounded out 338 yards on 64 carries on a wet turf and Proctor didn’t attempt a pass in the game. It was exactly 364 days since Navy won a game without attempting a pass against SMU during the 2008 season.

It appeared early that the game would be decided by the feet of each team’s kicker. The Mids got on the board first when Joe Buckley capped off a 7-play, 29-yard drive with a wind-aided 50 yard field goal. True to form, Navy has won 36 of their last 39 games when scoring first.

Jimmy Newman got Wake Forest on the board early in the second quarter with a 40-yard field goal of his own.

The kicking battle continued on the ensuing drive. Navy started on their own 20 and used 11 straight rushes to move deep into Wake Forest territory. The drive stalled and Buckley showed his poise when he connected on a 40-yard field goal, this time into the wind.

Buckley wasn’t the only kicker that had success for Navy. Punter Kyle Delahooke set two career-high marks on the day. He nailed a 65-yard punt in the first quarter and then boomed a 68-yard kick in the fourth.

On Wake Forest’s second possession of the second quarter a torrential downpour started that wouldn’t let up for the remainder of the game. The weather appeared to favor the running-focused Midshipmen and hampered the aerial attack of the Demon Deacons.

Proctor put the game out of reach with Navy’s first drive of the second half. After pounding the Wake defense with six carries from fullback Vince Murray, Proctor showed some nifty moves of his own with a 40 yard scamper into the end zone. The score gave Navy a commanding 13-3 lead.

Skinner finally found pay dirt midway through the fourth quarter when he connected with Devon Brown for a 15-yard touchdown completion, cutting the Mids lead to three.

Wake’s defense was unable to stop the Midshipmen running attack late in the game and the Mids were able to run out the clock.

Vince Murray finished the game with 175 yards on 27 carries, his second straight 100 yard game. Kriss Proctor finished with 96 yards and one touchdown.

Riley Skinner finished the day with 173 yards passing on 25 attempts and one touchdown. He was sacked three times.

Navy hosts Temple next week at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. With a win the Mids will be bowl-bound. They have accepted an invite to the Texas Bowl once they become bowl eligible.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mids Defeat Air Force in OT

On a beautiful afternoon in Annapolis, Navy and Air Force battled to the first-ever overtime matchup between the two schools. Coming into the game the Midshipmen were having their own internal battle between kickers Jon Teague and Joe Buckley. Last week Teague handled the kicking duties in less than impressive fashion. This week Buckley got the nod and the Junior finished the game as the Brigade hero.

Buckley nailed three field goals in the game with the final boot a 38-yard game winner in overtime. Navy came away with the overtime win 16-13 and the odds on favorite to retain the coveted Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.

Navy started the defensive battle by holding the Falcons to negative four yards on three plays and forcing the first punt of the game. Mario Washington returned the punt 12 yards to the Air Force 35 yard line setting up the offense with great field position.

Ricky Dobbs carried the ball three times on the drive with the final carry reaching the end zone from 13 yards out.

Air Force got on the scoreboard when Anthony Wright picked off Dobbs and raced 67 yards to the end zone. The TD was his second of the season and the fifth for the opportunistic Falcon defense.

On Navy’s next possession, Buckley gave the Midshipmen the lead with a career long 47 yard field goal. The half would end with Navy in the lead 10-7.

Head coach Ken Niumatololo wasn’t sure what to think when sending in Buckley for the long attempt.

“I didn’t know what to think. I asked him if he could make it, he said yes, I said go do it.”

Air Force’s kicker Erik Soderberg came up big for the Falcons late in the third quarter. After Navy punter Kyle Delahooke’s punt went only 27 yards to the Navy 37, Air Force looked to be in a position to take their first lead of the game. After nine straight carries the Air Force offense stalled on the Navy 10 yard line. Soderberg coolly split the uprights and tied the contest 10-10.

The fourth quarter had a little bit of everything that kept both Academies’ fans on the edge of their seats.

Navy capped off a 15 play drive with Buckley’s second field goal of the night, this time a 37 yarder that gave the home crowd of 37,820 a reason to celebrate.

Midway through the fourth quarter Air Force fullback Jared Tew fumbled on a fourth down play and the ball was recovered by Navy linebacker Ross Pospisil. Two plays later Dobbs fumbled after fighting for extra yardage and the Falcons recovered at midfield.

After the teams traded punts, Air Force had one more opportunity to win the game.

Starting on their own 24 yard line, the Falcons moved methodically down the field converting on both third and fourth downs to keep their drive alive. On a first and ten from the Navy 44, Wyatt Middleton picked off a Tim Jefferson pass in a play that appeared to seal the win for the Mids. A questionable roughing the passer penalty was called giving new life to the visitors.

Air Force moved the ball to the Navy 22 where Soderberg kicked his second field goal of the night with no time left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

Navy took the ball first and played the overtime in front of the Brigade of Midshipmen who had been raucous the whole game. After only being able to muster four yards on the drive, Buckley came in and coolly kicked what would be the game winner from 38 yards.

“Jon Teague and I have been battling at every practice,” noted Buckley. “It is not an ideal situation, but it has made both of us better kickers. I think that showed today. Doing something like this is a dream come true.”

Air Force had one last shot, but Soderberg couldn’t match his Navy counterpart and kicked the 31 yard attempt wide left giving the Mids the dramatic home victory.

Navy-Air Force tied 10-10

Erik Soderberg hit a 27 yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 late in the third quarter. Air Force capped off a drive that started at the Navy 37 yard line following a 27 yard Navy punt.

Navy Regains the Lead

Joe Buckley kicked a 47 yard field goal to give Navy a 10-7 lead going into the half.

The lead is bitter sweet as starting fullback Alexander Teich went down with an ankle and knee injury on his seventh carry of the afternoon. He is finished for the day.

Air Force Ties the Game

Navy QB, Ricky Dobbs was picked off by Anthony Wright who returned the INT 67 yards for a TD. The score was Air Force's 5th defensive TD this season. It was Wright's second score this season.

The intereception return for a touchdown was the first against Navy since the Tulane game in 2001.

Today's crowd was the third largest in Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium history (37,820). It's also the largest crowd to watch a Navy-Air Force game in Annapolis.

Merchant Interception

Emmett Merchant picked off a Tim Jefferson pass and returned it 33 yards to the Air Force 35. A penalty on the return moved the ball back to mid-field. The interception was Merchant's second of the year.

Navy 7-0

Ricky Dobbs ran it in from 13 yards and Joe Buckley tacked on the XP to give Navy the 7-0 lead over Air Force with 8:55 remaining in the first quarter. It was a 7 play, 35 yard drive that took 3:48. Navy held Air Force to -4 yards on three plays in their opening drive.

Air Force at Navy

It's a beautiful day in Annapolis for the Air Force - Navy football game. There's a strong potential for a record crowd at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the first of leg of crowning the Commander-in-Chief's trophy.

For the record, Army just lost a heart breaker to Tulane when they missed a 37 yard field goal with about 15 seconds remaining that would have won it for the Black Knights.