Nov. 4, 2005
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Senior kicker Anthony Conticelli (Alpharetta, Ga.) connected on a 23-yard field goal in the second overtime as Navy rallied to a 19-16 win against Army at Michie Stadium in West Point. Navy concludes the season with a 7-0 mark, 4-0 in CSFL action to claim its league-record 31st championship and the N-Star. Army wrapped up its campaign with a 4-3 record, 3-1 in league play.
"I knew that when I hit it that it was good," said Conticelli. "This is a huge thrill for me, an absolute dream come true. Before the game, one of the coaches said that I was going to kick the game-winner. I have to give credit to the snapper (Drew Cecil) and holder (A.J. Storrs)."
The Midshipmen overcame seven turnovers (four fumbles and three interceptions) and a 16-0 halftime deficit in winning back-to-back CSFL Championships.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team today," stated Navy head coach Maj. Jerome Rizzo, USMC. "We settled down after halftime and we started to make the plays we needed. I think that in the end, we just wanted it more.
Army capitalized on a Navy miscue to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Backpedaling to return a punt, senior Andrew Holmes (Savannah, Ga.) fell and fumbled the ball, which was picked up by Army at Navy's 34-yard line. Nine plays later, Patrick Hall ran in from one yard out to give the Black Knights a 7-0 advantage with 4:55 left in the opening stanza.
The hosts struck on their next possession, using 10 plays over five minutes to push the margin to 13-0. Quarterback Braden Amigo ran the option to his right and found the endzone with 13:47 on the clock in the second quarter. However, Adam DeMarco's PAT attempt was blocked by senior Marcus Walters (Richardson, Texas) to keep the Navy deficit at 13 points.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior Trevor Garabedian-Prophet
(Ventura, Calif.) dropped the ball and Army recovered at Navy's 27-yardline. Five plays later, DeMarco hit a 31-yard field to put the Black Knights up 16-0 with 11:37 left in the opening half.
"We couldn't do anything right in the first half, we couldn't get a break," said Rizzo. "I thought we were lucky to come out of the first half down 16-0."
Navy answered back with a 13-play, 82-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. From its own 31-yardline on third-and-eight, senior James Olsen (Germantown, Tenn.) completed a 47-yard pass to senior Theo Williams (Artesia, N.M.). Later in the drive, facing a fourth-and-12 from Army's 24-yardline, Olsen avoided a sack, rolled left and floated a pass to senior Jake Owens (Pensacola, Fla.), who cut back inside to pick up the first down with a 17-yard gain. Three plays later, Olsen scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak. The Midshipmen converted the two-point conversion on Olsen's pass to Williams to cut the deficit to 16-8.
On Army's first-play of the ensuing drive, senior Douglas Keel (Dallas, Texas) delivered a hit on Hall that caused him to fumble the ball, which Navy junior David Novotney (Chesterton, Ind.) pounced on at Army's 39. On the next play, Olsen found an open Kurt Laughary (Morris, Ill.) down the right sideline for a Midshipmen touchdown. After a false start penalty, Garabedian-Prophet ran in from eight yards out on the two-point conversion to knot the score at 16 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
"I have never seen momentum shift that fast," said Rizzo. "On the second two-point conversion after the penalty, Trevor (Garabedian-Prophet) said, `Give me the ball. I want it on the toss.'"
Each team had opportunities to go ahead in the final four minutes of regulation. Army's 46-yard field goal from DeMarco was on line, but came up short with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter. Navy drove the ball down to Army's 28-yardline, but Garabedian-Prophet was tripped up in the backfield on a fourth-and-one as the Mids turned the ball over on downs. Two plays later, Amigo's pass was tipped by Walters and picked off by senior Patrick Flores (Diamond Bar, Calif.), who returned the ball 17 yards to Army's 33-yardline. However, Olsen avoided a sack but lobbed a pass down the right sideline that was picked off by Dave Daniels with 19 seconds on the clock.
Army won the coin toss and chose to defend in the first overtime. Navy lost four yards on its first-three plays, then on fourth-and-14, Olsen completed a pass to junior A.J. Storrs (Cincinnati, Ohio) two yards short of the first down. Army also was unable to muster a first down in the first overtime session, and DeMarco's 37-yard field goal attempt struck the left upright and was no good.
In the second overtime, Navy's defense held the Black Knights to a three-and-out. DeMarco's fourth field goal attempt of the game, this one from 42 yards, sailed wide left.
With Navy on offense, the Midshipmen relied upon the running attack to set up for the game-winning field goal. Owens ran five times for 19 yards on the drive, however, Navy could not get in the endzone after a first-and-goal from Army's three-yardline. After a false start penalty was assessed on Navy to push the ball back to the seven-yardline, Conticelli drilled a 23-yard field goal to win the game.
The Midshipmen offense outgained the Black Knights, 295-239. Olsen completed 18 of his 33 pass attempts for 212 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Williams corralled five passes for 82 yards, while sophomore Richard Engel (Medford, N.J.) also hauled in five passes.
Engel led Navy's rushing game with 49 yards on 14 carries. Owens also chipped in 18 yards, while Garabedian-Prophet rushed for 13 yards.
Keel registered a career-high 13 tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble in his final career game. Junior Ryan Engle (Reed City, Mich.) provided 12 tackles, including a tackle for a loss. Engle made 35 tackles in Navy's two games versus Army this year and finished with 70 tackles on the season.
Freshman Justin Nabozna (New Fairfield, Conn.) and junior Cory Baxter (North Kingstown, R.I.) each added 10 tackles in the win. Novotney contributed nine tackles, four behind the line of scrimmage and a sack. Flores also made nine tackles, blocked a punt and picked off a pass, while Walters registered eight tackles, blocked a PAT and broke up a pass.
Army's rushing attack accounted for 181 of its 239 yards of total offense. Hall led the team with 37 carries for 130 yards with a touchdown. Amigo connected on five-of-nine pass attempts for 58 yards with an interception. Steven Wax and Daniels led the Black Knights with 10 tackles.
Friday's contest was Navy's third-ever overtime game and the first since Nov. 9, 2001, when the Mids defeated Army 17-10 at West Point in single-overtime. Each of Navy's last two wins at Army has required overtime.
Navy also improved to 31-30-1 all-time versus the Black Knights, including wins in the last four meetings and eight of the last nine contests.
The Midshipmen ended the 2005 season with seven wins for only the fourth-time in program history. The 1992, 1997 and 2002 squads also won seven contests in winning the league crown.
The 2005 team ended its season with only 34 points allowed (4.9 ppg), the fewest-ever yielded by a Navy team during a seven-game season.
Dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season, Navy has won 13-straight games and 30 of its last 31 games. Rizzo owns a 26-1 record over his four seasons at the helm, including seven wins against Army.