Perfect day for Harmon

navy notebook

Kicker makes all four field-goal attempts, ties school record

October 05, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The wind was beginning to whip up, especially at one end of Falcon Stadium, when Navy kicker Matt Harmon went out to warm up for yesterday's game against Air Force.

His kicks into the wind were falling short, and even some of those with the wind were being blown off course. It got so bad that Harmon's father, Leon, came down from the stands to confer with his son.

"That's when you've got to calm down," the younger Harmon said later. "My dad came down and said, 'You just need to relax.' "

Harmon did. The senior from Greenville, S.C., made all four of his field-goal attempts to help Navy beat Air Force, 33-27. It enabled Harmon to tie five other former Navy kickers for the most field goals in a single game.

After making 14 of 21 attempts the past two seasons - and having a potential game-winning field-goal try blocked against Ball State last year - Harmon has been successful on 14 of 15 this year, including his past 13.

"He's been automatic the whole time," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said after the game. "He's done a great job the whole time. We'd always like to score seven, but it's nice to know you can get three."

Block party

Reserve cornerback Blake Carter had to think hard about the last time he blocked a punt that was turned into a touchdown.

"Peewee football," Carter said. "Maybe when I was 10."

And the last time he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown?

"Never," he said. "First time."

Carter had a hand in both plays against the Falcons, scooping up the blocked punt of Air Force's Ryan Harrison in the first quarter for a 25-yard touchdown and then smothering Harrison when he attempted a rugby-style punt in the fourth quarter that Bobby Doyle fell on in the end zone.

"We watched a lot of tape of them on punts, and we realized they had a couple of weak spots in there," Carter said. "We wanted to attack those and capitalize."

Big hits

Safety Wyatt Middleton might not look like the prototype for what you would consider a ferocious hitter, but the 6-foot, 192-pound sophomore is starting to get that reputation. Middleton had several big hits among his eight tackles yesterday, but his forced fumble was straight out of a textbook.

With Navy leading 23-20 early in the fourth quarter, Middleton stuck his helmet onto the ball that Air Force's Savier Stephens was carrying. The force of the hit popped the ball loose, and Matt Nechak recovered at the Falcons' 18-yard line.

Four plays later, Harmon's 32-yard field goal gave the Midshipmen a 26-20 lead.

"We work on tackling every day," Middleton said. "The key thing for the defense is missed tackles, and to keep that number [low] in order to win games. We stress our tackling."

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