We are now firmly entrenched in the dog days of summer. Spring practice seems like a distant memory. Fall camp feels like a mirage on the horizon.
Some teams have an abundance of storylines to continue filling the message boards with. Others are just counting down the days until August. If you are a Navy Football fan, there is not much to keep you busy aside from the ongoing saga with whether or not the College Football Playoff committee will find a work around for the Army-Navy game’s impact on the final CFP rankings. In case you missed the last couple weeks, the latest news was positive (unless you are the MWC commissioner), but there is still no official resolution to the issue.
A quiet summer is usually a good summer. But for those of us who find ourselves trying to sustain our Navy Football fill over the course of an entire year, we are required to reach back in the memory bank and relive our favorite moments until the Brigade reforms.
In hopes of helping this process along, I have compiled a list of the top ten moments in Navy Football over the last ten seasons.
In creating this list, I solicited some help from my fellow contributors over @4PtStance. I combined my own rankings with theirs to get a small polling sample of what Navy Football fans consider the greatest moments of the last decade.
First, a few honorable mentions. Each of these games received votes in our top ten poll but did not make it in the final rankings.
2008 Temple game
Significance: Navy overcame a 20 point deficit in the 4th quarter highlighted by an incredible strip by Ross Pospisil that Clint Sovie returned for a TD in the final minute of the game. The Midshipmen eventually won the game in overtime 33-27 in one of the craziest games I can remember in recent memory.
2007 North Texas game
Significance: I’m not sure whether the inclusion of this game is because of how good both offenses were or simply how awful both defenses were. I suppose the true significance of the game was that when it was all said and done, the two teams had combined to score the most points ever in a non-overtime FBS game at the time. Navy won the game 74-62.
2007 Pittsburgh game
Significance: I will be honest, I voted for this game for the top ten. This was one of my favorite games I watched in person as a Mid. This was a Pitt team that had a freshmen sensation by the name of LeSean "Shady" McCoy and he did not disappoint, rushing for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns in a back and forth affair. However, the significance of this game was one of the strangest play calls I can remember from a Navy game over the last decade. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Navy 2 and needing only a FG to send the game to a third overtime, Pitt gambled and a Rashawn King deflection in the back corner of the endzone sealed the game for Navy.
2008 Wake Forest game
Significance: This game was significant for one reason. This was Navy’s first win over a ranked opponent in 23 years as the Midshipmen went on the road and forced six Wake Forest turnovers on their way to a 24-17 victory.
2008 Towson game
Significance: Yes, a game against an FCS opponent made the honorable mention list. The reason this game made the list was the individual performance of Navy slotback Shun White. White rushed for a Navy record 348 yards and three touchdowns, eclipsing the previous record of 298 set by Eddie Meyers in 1981.
Alright, enough with the games that almost made the list. Without further ado, here are the top ten moments in Navy Football over the last ten seasons.
10. 2009 Air Force game
Significance: We start our countdown of the top ten with a classic victory against Air Force. Some Navy fans would argue that any victory against Air Force should qualify for the top ten list because there is generally no love lost between these two. This game certainly did not disappoint. True blue Navy fans will remember that kicker Joe Buckley had been benched two weeks earlier after struggling early in the year, but he was the difference maker in this one. Buckley had field goals of 47, 37, and 38 yards with the final field goal being the deciding points in overtime as Navy held on to win 16-13.
9. 2009 Texas Bowl against Missouri
Significance: Navy absolutely manhandled a Missouri team that hailed from the Big 12 conference and came in with a bit of overconfidence. And why shouldn’t they have been confident? Mizzou was led by future first round pick Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and had the FBS leader in receiving yards in 2009 in Danario Alexander at wide receiver. However, the game turned into an epic performance by Ricky Dobbs. Dobbs rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another, and the Navy defense intercepted Gabbert twice as Navy shellacked Missouri 35-13.
8. 2010 Notre Dame game
Significance: Similar to the Air Force logic, any victory over Notre Dame deserves to be mentioned in the top ten victories of the decade. The significance of this Notre Dame game was twofold. First, beating Notre Dame three times in four years is an incredible feat for the 2010 senior class. Second, this was not just a victory, but a complete demolition of the Fighting Irish, and the man behind it all was Alexander Teich. Ricky Dobbs would get credit for most of the touchdowns, but Teich was a workhorse, rushing for 210 yards and absolutely gashing the Notre Dame defense over and over again. He also hauled in a receiving touchdown off an incredible catch (see below) as Navy clobbered the Irish.
7. 2009 Notre Dame game
Significance: This game comes in just ahead of the 2010 game for two reasons. First, a couple of memorable plays that changed the momentum of the game. Second, a two game winning streak in South Bend is better in my opinion than a two game winning streak overall. The first memorable play came at the end of the third quarter. After the play broke down, Jimmy Clausen scrambled and ran towards the end zone, but he fumbled just short of the goal line and Navy recovered. The second play was actually back to back plays as Clausen was sacked twice in a row, the second time in the endzone for a safety with a minute to go and Notre Dame down a touchdown. This game was certainly a nail biter for Navy as Notre Dame was able to recover an onside kick and get it within two points, but in the end the Midshipmen prevailed 23-21.
6. 2013 San Jose State game
Significance: This game was an individual performance for the ages. In a back and forth affair that saw both teams trading touchdowns throughout the game, Keenan Reynolds showed why he will arguably go down as the greatest quarterback in Navy history not named Staubach. Reynolds would set the record for rushing touchdowns in a game with a whopping 7 TDs, culminating with a 25 yard TD scramble in the third overtime to seal the game for the Mids.
5. 2005 Poinsettia Bowl against Colorado State
Significance: This was another game that would be remembered for an outstanding individual performance. Reggie Campbell would end up with 290 all-purpose yards in this game and would tie Barry Sanders for the FBS bowl game record with 5 touchdowns as Navy clobbered Colorado State 51-30.
4. 2008 Air Force game
Significance: Another Air Force victory makes the list. Anytime Navy beats Air Force in Colorado it's extra special. This is due in part to the confidence the Falcons have in the mile-high effect. This game will be remembered for the two blocked punts returned for touchdowns that the Navy special teams caused as the Mids held on to win 33-27.
3. 2005 Air Force game
Significance: Now we are getting into the realm of where were you moments. I remember being in the front row of Plebes, soaked from the rain, and hoarse from the screaming as Navy scored ten points in the last three minutes of the game to win 27-24. Joey Bullen nailed a 46 yard field goal with .4 seconds left and we tried to rush the field, only to be forced back to the stands so the last half second could be run off the clock.
2. Decade of dominance against Army (special emphasis on 2012 game)
Significance: If you are wondering why there has not been a single Army-Navy game in the top ten list up to this point, don't fret. I decided to include the entire decade of dominance (and 13 in a row overall) as one single moment in the top ten list. Defeating Army ten times out of ten is memorable in it's own right, and if not for an epic game to end all epic games, this would certainly have been number one on the list.
In looking at ten victories in ten years against the Black Knights, I decided to focus on the 2012 game as we reminisce about the great string of victories in the series. The first thing that made the 2012 game significant was that Army and Navy had both already defeated Air Force, so the Commander-in-Chief's trophy was up for grabs during the game for the first time since 2005. The second thing that made this game memorable was simply the fact that Army was in position to win in the fourth quarter for one of the only times during Navy's streak. Army was moving down the field with the endzone in sight, but a botched handoff between Trent Steelman and Larry Dixon at the Navy 14 preserved the streak for the Midshipmen.
1. 2007 Notre Dame game
Significance: The 2007 Navy-Notre Dame game was a unanimous number one for us. This was most certainly a where were you moment in the lives of all Navy fans. Ending a 43 game losing streak on the road in South Bend was everything we hoped it would be and then some.
There were numerous plays during the game that will go down in Navy lore. The Nate Frazier/Michael Walsh forced fumble that was returned by Chris Kuhar-Pitters for a TD. The Super Ram Vela leaping sack. The inexplicable decision by Weis to not kick a FG and go for it on fourth down late in the 4th quarter. The back and forth scores in the first two overtimes. The amazing TD pass and catch from Kaipo to Reggie Campbell in the third overtime followed by a gutsy call to pass on the two-point conversion. The pass interference call that gave the Fighting Irish the ball on the one for another attempt at their own two-point conversion. And finally, Navy stacking everyone in the box and selling out for the run, stuffing Travis Thomas and sealing the streak ending victory.
I remember my roommate Austin leaping every security guard and running around the field. I remember Bill the Goat pulling me over the railing and helping me onto the field as the security guards tried to keep me in the stands(I lost my shoes in the process and never saw them again). That's yours truly circled below, getting a hug from Eric Kettani and singing Blue and Gold with the team. This was certainly a once in a lifetime experience and I was glad I got to be a part of it.
So, what do you think Navy fans? Did we get the top ten right? Was there another moment that stood out more for you? Feel free to let me know in the comments section or hit me up @UDDNavy. Only 83 days until we get new memories and maybe a new top ten moment to add to the list!