Bullen gets a good bounce

Notebook

December 02, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

Navy coach Paul Johnson was joking with his kicker, senior Joey Bullen, before yesterday's Army-Navy game about missing all but one of the kicks he was trying from 50 to 52 yards.

But when slotback Reggie Campbell returned a punt to the Army 34-yard line and left one second on the clock, Johnson decided to give his kicker a chance to make a 51-yard field goal.

"He comes up to me during the timeout and said, `Coach, I can make it.'" Johnson said. "And I said [sarcastically], `Sure you can, I watched you warm up.' He says, `No, really, I can make it.' So I figured the chances were better for him to hit it than for us to complete a pass into the end zone from there. So what did we have to lose?"

Johnson laughed, because Bullen made the kick - with a little help from the crossbar.

"He was lucky it hit the crossbar and bounced over," Johnson said. "If it hit the crossbar and bounced back, he never would have heard the end of it from me."

The kick gave Navy a 24-3 lead.

Lost respect

There is always a lot of good-natured fun surrounding the Army-Navy game. Mascots get stolen, pep rallies are over the top. Rumors surface that a coach - in this case Army's Stan Brock - had guaranteed a win.

But Navy senior fullback Adam Ballard said things went too far when Army made him a marked man in an e-mail that said Army's defense was out to get him.

"They were talking a lot of trash," he said. "They said they would break my legs, and they had my number written in their eye black. And they were twisting my legs at the end of plays.

"I lost a lot of respect for Army this week. It did feel good to beat them."

Limited production

Army wide receiver Jeremy Trimble stretched his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 21 yesterday and increased his school-record career reception total to 176, but the senior had just one catch for 5 yards.

"Credit Coach Johnson and his staff," Trimble said. "They came with a good scheme that was able to keep the ball out of my hands. I had a slight foot injury, but it was good until late in the fourth [quarter]."

Trimble was more disappointed by the game's result, however, than by his lack of receptions.

"This pretty much means I've spent four years dedicated to winning that one game ... and not getting it done," he said. "Now, I know how it feels. It hasn't all set in yet, but it's going to be that much worse when it does."

Johnson on rumors

Almost every day, someone asks Johnson and his players about their take on Johnson's prospects of leaving Navy for another job. Yesterday was no different.

Johnson laughed and said: "They've been shipping me out for six years. ... Not one thing [about him leaving] that I have seen or read has been true. I have not taken another job. There is not going to be an announcement tomorrow or any time. That being said, as any other human being would, if someone calls and asks to talk to me about another job, I may listen. But it would take a special deal for me to leave."

Asked about the possibility of Johnson leaving, Ballard summed up his feelings quickly.

"This is my last year," he said. "He can go wherever he wants."

End zone

Navy leads the series 52-49-7. ... Army limited Navy to 125 total yards and forced three punts in the first half, but trailed 24-3 at halftime. ... Navy's Reggie Campbell was named the game's Most Valuable Player. ... With yesterday's win, Navy has won 11 straight service academy games dating to the 2002 Army-Navy game. This is the second straight year Army has finished its season with six straight losses. ... The three points by Army were the fewest allowed by the Midshipmen during Johnson's tenure. ... Yesterday's second half was the first scoreless half by the Mids defense this season. ... Navy broke the school record for points in a season with 479 - the previous record was 442, set in 1917.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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