Saturday, October 01, 2011

Midshipmen fall to Air Force in OT

Trevor Replogle

Navy has beaten Air Force the last three times the teams have faced each other in Annapolis. This year there was even more motivation than normal for this Service Academy battle.

Last year, Air Force knocked off the Mids 14-6 in Colorado Springs and then beat Army 42-22 to claim the Commander-In-Chief's trophy for the first time since 2002. The trophy had taken up permanent residence in Bancroft Hall at the Naval Academy since 2003 and Navy was ready to bring it back home.

Air Force dominated for most of the game and took a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Navy never backed down and amazingly forced overtime by scoring 18 points in the last 5:21 of the fourth quarter.

Tim Jefferson led a potent Falcon offense by completing 9 of 10 passes for 136 yards a 1 TD, a 52-yarder to Ty MacArthur just 1:30 into the first quarter. Jefferson also gained 66 yards on the ground along with two rushing TDs. Asher Clark also rushed for two scores and 91 yards on just eight carries.

As dominant as Jefferson and Falcons were on the offensive side of the ball, Brady Amack and the Air Force defense matched their efforts on the defensive side. Amack finished the game with 23 tackles, one sack, and two tackles for a loss. He more than doubled his tackles from the first three games combined.

Given the apparent insurmountable score going into the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen never quit and provided one of the better comebacks in recent memory.

Navy was down 28-10 with 14:55 remaining in the game. That's when the magic started.

Kriss Proctor led the Mids on a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive to cut the Air Force lead to 11. Fullback Alexander Teich carried four times for 29 tough yards and quarterback Kriss Proctor rambled for 21 yards on five carries, including a seven yard TD with 9:34.

The Navy defense held the Falcons on the next series and Navy took over at their own seven yard line with 7:04 remaining in the game.
Proctor was the workhorse on the next drive with four carries and three completions to three different receivers. The Mids' drive stalled on the Air Force 20 yard line where Jon Teague kicked a 37-yard field goal bringing Navy within eight points with 2:04 remaining.

Everyone in the stadium was looking for the onside kick and Navy executed the play perfectly. Teague got the second hop and Navy recovered on their own 41 yard line setting up an amazing comeback.Proctor and Teich again led the offense with players like Matt Aiken and Gee Gee Greene coming up big to keep the drive alive.

On 2nd and four from the Navy 47, Proctor used his agility to keep a seemingly hopeless play alive and eluded the Air Force defense for a huge 27-yard gain. After a four-yard rush by Teich, Proctor hit Aiken for 15 yards and a first-and-goal from the AF seven yard line.

On third down, Proctor found Greene in the end zone to cut the lead to two. Teich got the call on the conversion play and found the end zone to tie the game 28-28.
Air Force won the toss and elected to play defense and Navy selected to play the first overtime in front of the rowdy Brigade. After a false start call on the first play, Teich powered through the Air Force defense for a 13-yard gain. Seven more carries, including one on a fourth down, and Navy found the end zone on a Kriss Proctor 1-yard run.

Amid the celebration of Navy's first lead of the game, Proctor was flagged for a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct call. The penalty moved the ball to the 18 yard line forcing a 35-yard extra point attempt. Jon Teague had missed wide right on a 26-yard field goal attempt at that end of the field in the second quarter.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo was obviously disappointed in the call. "That's a tough call to make. I would hope the referees would have said something like, 'Settle down' in that situation. It is too critical of a call to make. Both teams were battling hard. That call hurts. I'd have liked to have seen them use some discretion."

Proctor gave his side of the story. "Some guy got in my way and I told him to move explicitly and he called it."

Teich wasn't as tactful saying the call was sad, pitiful, horrible. It's hard to disagree with his assessment after hearing Proctor's version of the call.

Teague's extra point attempt was blocked and Navy held a six-point lead with Air Force getting the ball,

Jefferson completed a pass to Zack Kauth for 16 yards on their first play in OT to move the ball to the Navy 9 yard line. Four plays later Jefferson pounded it in from one yard to tie the game. Par Herrington kicked the extra point giving the Falcons the 35-34 lead and the early lead in retaining the CIC trophy.

Air Force hosts Army on November 5 and the annual Army-Navy game will be held on December 10.

No comments: