Campbell big part of Mids' win

College football


At 5 feet 6, 164 pounds, Navy sophomore slotback Reggie Campbell easily can get lost among the giants that populate a football field. Yesterday, when the Midshipmen needed someone to fuel their comeback late in the fourth quarter against Air Force, the smallest player on the field stood tall.

Although the Mids ultimately beat their service academy rivals, 27-24, because sophomore Joey Bullen kicked a 46-yard field goal with less than one second remaining, Navy could not have done it without the speedy, diminutive Campbell.

With less than three minutes left and Navy trailing 24-17, Campbell stepped up to wound the Falcons and give the Mids a chance to win in regulation.

First, Campbell found a desirable matchup with an Air Force linebacker, got wide open and hauled in a 29-yard completion from quarterback Lamar Owens. That suddenly put Navy on the Air Force 40. On the next play, Campbell took a pitch to the left, ran through an arm tackle by Air Force linebacker John Rabold, then flew down the sideline untouched to score with 2:22 left.

Bullen's extra point tied the score, and for the youthful Mids, another young star may have been born in the form of Campbell, a football, track and weight-lifting standout at Lake Mary High in Sanford, Fla.

A year ago, Campbell caught one pass and ran the ball four times, while earning letters in football and track. Yesterday, Campbell caught three passes for 47 yards, both career highs, and scored the first rushing touchdown of his career.

"I'm just glad I was in a position to make plays," said Campbell, who said he could not recall how his scoring run unfolded. "Once I got the ball, I just ran. I just got into the end zone as fast I could. My first thought [after crossing the goal line] was, was it a penalty?"

"Reggie is probably one of the fastest guys on our team," said Navy senior quarterback Lamar Owens. "I love to see him and Marco [Nelson] and Karlos [Whittaker] in the open field. I'll take them in the open field against anybody."

Owens, who gained 2 yards with a sneak on a critical fourth-and-one to keep the game-tying drive alive, hooked up with Campbell two plays later. The play was designed to get the ball to junior wide-out Jason Tomlinson (career-high 114 receiving yards), but Air Force rolled its coverage to take Tomlinson away.

That left Campbell to find an opening down the middle. Said Navy coach Paul Johnson: "We felt like [on the pass play] we had a good matchup outside with Jason Tomlinson. To [Air Force's] credit, they rolled into two-deep coverage [to address Tomlinson], they put their linebacker on our slot inside, and Reggie was able to beat the guy down the middle of the field."

Owens added: "We actually ran that pass play in practice this week ... and Reggie dropped the ball. And he said, `Hey, I've got you next time.'"

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