Nov. 2, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy sprint football team rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but it wasn't enough as Army defeated the Midshipmen, 21-18. With the win, Army reclaimed the Star and the Collegiate Sprint Football League title as it finished the season 7-0. Navy ends the year at 6-1.
"We knew this was going to be a fight and Army came out strong early," said Navy head coach Maj. Kavan Lake, USMC. "It was our mistake we didn't shut them down."
Army wasted little time in getting going as it went 72 yards in just five plays on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. A 40-yard pass from Javier Sustaita to Cody Nyp on third-and-12 play put the Black Knights at the Navy 10-yard line. Marquis Morris rushed into the end zone on the next play for the first score of the game.
The 40-yard pass from Sustaita was a sign of the things to come for the Black Knights as it was one of four Army plays that went for over 20 yards in the first half.
After failing to get beyond midfield on its first three possessions of the game, the Navy offense got in gear as it started a nine-play, 85-yard scoring drive at the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Lewis Correale went 3-of-5 on the drive and made two huge throws. The first came on a third-and-10 play at the Navy 30-yard line as Correale found Jesse Holian for 37 yards to put the Mids in Army territory. Three plays later on another third down, Correale hit running back Corey Garcia with a screen pass over the middle. Garcia was able to shake free of several would-be tacklers and sprinted to the corner of the end zone as Navy tied the game, 7-7, with 12:32 to play in the half.
A blocked field goal by Navy on the next possession kept the game tied, but another big play from Army later in the quarter reclaimed the lead for the Black Knights. On second down from the Army 34-yard line, Sustaita found Tom Jeffers down the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown pass.
With Navy unable to sustain any offensive momentum, Army got the ball back with 2:42 to play in the half and used two more third-down conversions en route to a six-play, 65-yard TD drive. A 30-yard pass from Sustaita to Cody Ross on a third-and-12 put Army in Navy territory. The touchdown play then came on a third-and-7 from the Navy 24-yard line as Sustaita hit Jeffers to give Army a 21-7 lead.
Navy sliced into the deficit with 7:44 to play in the third quarter when Adrian Montecinos, who missed a 38-yard field goal just before half, connected on a 41-yarder to make the score 21-10.
The Mids' defense rose to the occasion on the next possession as linebacker Temple Sloan Picked off a Sustaita pass at the Army 32-yard line. It took Navy just five plays to convert the turnover into points as Alex Horton rushed into the end zone from two yards out. Horton's two-point conversion put the Mids within a field goal, 21-18, with just over 2:00 to play in the third quarter.
"Our guys are a bunch of fighters and I knew walking out of that locker room before the second half that they were ready to climb back," said Lake.
With just three points separating the teams, both defenses tightened and produced a total of three turnovers over the next six possessions. The Midshipmen forced Army into a three-and-out and got the ball back with 3:47 to play in the fourth quarter looking to drive 70 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
A 19-yard pass from Correale to Holian helped Navy get across midfield and then an 18-yard strike from Correale to Tracy Daniels put the Mids in the red zone with just over 1:00 to play. But the Army defense forced Navy back five yards over the next three plays, giving Navy a fourth-and-15 from the 22-yard line.
Montecinos looked to tie the game for Navy with a 39-yard field goal attempt on the next play, but his kick fell short and Army held on to win, 21-18.
Army finished the game with 377 yards of total offense, while Navy finished with 345 and a 10:24 edge in time of possession. Correale completed 21-of-43 throws, had one touchdown and three interceptions. Army's Sustaita was 10-of-21 for 192 yards with two TDs and one pick.
Coming into Friday's game, the team with the most rushing yards won nine of the last 11 meetings and that held true to form again as the Black Knights totaled 140 yards on the ground and Navy a season-low 89.
Navy linebacker Matt Piotrowicz led all players with game-high 11 tackles, including 2.0 for loss.
"I'm very, very proud of my team's effort," said Lake. "These are a fantastic group of guys - next year we'll just have to get it done and we understand that."