Navy prevails in 2 OT

Seesaw game ends with Mids on top

Navy 48 Pittsburgh 45

October 11, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

PITTSBURGH -- Escape artists. That's what Navy's football team tried to be last night.

It worked, despite missing what would have been a game-winning field goal with seven seconds left in regulation. The Midshipmen were able to pull out the victory in double overtime, 48-45, when Joey Bullen's 29-yard field goal held up.

Pittsburgh missed an opportunity to end a three-game skid when a fourth-and-goal pass went incomplete.

"It's a huge win," said Navy cornerback Rashawn King, who broke up the final pass by Pitt in the end zone. "When you talk about our defense not performing - we still haven't performed very well - but we should get a lot of confidence from beating a team like them. It should set a tone for the rest of the year."

Panthers freshman quarterback Pat Bostick's 1-yard touchdown run gave the Panthers a 45-38 lead in the first overtime, but Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada's 25-yard pass to slotback Reggie Campbell evened to score again.

Asked whether he thought about going for the two-point conversion, Navy coach Paul Johnson said: "I did think about it and then I didn't. I felt like if I had a better play, that I was sure would have worked, I would have."

Kaheaku-Enhada passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and compiling 288 all-purpose yards while leading Navy to its third straight win. Campbell caught two touchdowns and ran for one.

The game by all rights should have been won by Pittsburgh with ease, but Navy kept fighting back - against the Panthers and in spite of themselves.

Navy ended the first half by missing what could have been a decisive 35-yard field goal and started the second with a penalty that disrupted its rhythm and set Pitt (2-4) up for a go-ahead touchdown. Then the Mids (4-2) failed to capitalize on an interception, failed to convert a fake punt for a first down and much of the time looked silly trying to make tackles.

But as time ticked down, the Mids were still in the game.

"It's the way the game was played," Johnson said when asked whether he felt like Houdini. "You had to match them score for score. When they scored, you had to score."

"It was a tough, hard-fought game, and it was hard for either team to lose," Johnson said. "But we were due to win a game like this. We've been in three overtime games. We lost one by missing an extra point, and we fumbled in the last one before we even got a chance."

The announced crowd of 30,103 that turned out at Heinz Field on a cold, damp night got an eyeful all night.

The second half started badly for Navy for the second time in two games, as a penalty took the team out of its rhythm. It was just what Pittsburgh needed to gain the upper hand.

LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns, fumbled at the 2, but officials reviewed the play and judged the ball went out of bounds without touching the end-zone pylon. The Panthers went on to score on a 2-yard run by McCoy.

Navy tied the game at 6:54 with a 1-yard run by Shun White, but the sequence from the first half was reversed. Now, every time Pitt scored it put the pressure back on Navy instead of the other way around.

The Mids' defense, which again demonstrated how challenged it is to make tackles, held the Panthers to a field goal on their next drive. Navy regained the lead, 35-31, with a 3-yard touchdown run by Kaheaku-Enhada. The quarterback gave that drive a boost with a 37-yard run.

And then the Mids actually had a chance to make a real impact when King intercepted a pass from Bostick at the Navy 36. But the Mids reached fourth-and-three and lined up for a punt.

The punt was a fake, but punter Greg Veteto was caught a yard short.

With the ball back in their hands at Navy's 45-yard line, the Panthers scored two plays later on a 21-yard run by McCoy for a 38-35 lead with 10:45 to play in the fourth.

As the clock ticked to the final five minutes, Navy tried its second field goal of the night. The first one, a 35-yard attempt, missed wide, but with 4:57 to go, Bullen hit the ball low, slow and true and the game was once more tied, 38-38.

The Midshipmen didn't waste any time getting on the scoreboard last night. It took the Mids all of 2:05 to complete a 77-yard touchdown drive. After the Navy defense forced Pitt to punt on its first series, Kaheaku-Enhada hit O.J. Washington on a 49-yard pass that moved the ball to Pitt's 28-yard line. Four plays later, Kaheaku-Enhada pitched to Campbell for a 4-yard touchdown with 9:02 left in the first quarter.

Pitt responded with a 75-yard drive that lasted 5:48 and ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Conredge Collins, as the bigger Panthers were able to break out of Navy's tackles for large gains.

It appeared Navy had Pitt stopped on third-and-10 at the Navy 41-yard line. But then McCoy, a 210-pound freshman, broke through a Navy leg tackle for a 14-yard gain on a pass play, and Collins gained 7 the same way to set up his touchdown run and tie the game at 7.

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