Navy in 2013: Pivot Points, Part Four

The exhilarating win in a prolonged shootout at San Jose State. The strong, disciplined performance against Army. The defensive masterclass in the Armed Forces Bowl against an unhinged, bizarrely unsportsmanlike Middle Tennessee team. The final three games of Navy's 2013 season could not have offered a better set of insights into why this team achieved so richly.


PIVOT POINTS: SAN JOSE STATE, ARMY, ARMED FORCES BOWL

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SAN JOSE STATE

-- After San Jose State takes an early 9-0 lead, Navy answers on its next possession. San Jose State immediately scores to build its lead back to nine at 16-7, but Navy answers with a field goal and gets a defensive stand just before halftime, staying in the contest at 16-10.

-- Navy scores a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, gaining a 17-16 lead. The defense then forces a punt by San Jose State, and the offense, in a groove, follows with another touchdown for a 24-16 lead.

-- San Jose State’s offense bounces back, scoring a touchdown. The two-point try is no good, however, so Navy retains a 24-22 lead.

-- Navy’s offense stalls and punts. It’s the last time Navy’s offense fails to score in the game.

-- San Jose State’s offense, taking advantage of the Midshipmen’s rare second-half failure to score, marches downfield and faces only one third down, a third and one, en route to a touchdown. The two-point try is good. 30-24, Spartans.

-- Navy’s offense converts a third and 10 and replies with a touchdown of its own. 31-30, Midshipmen.

-- Navy’s defense recovers a fumble. The offense converts on fourth and one and then scores with 2:38 left. Navy had the chance to get a first down and then sit on the ball, but Keenan Reynolds ran into the end zone, giving San Jose State another possession in a one-score game, 38-30.

-- San Jose State’s offense scores on the last timed down of regulation and then converts the two-point try on the final play of the fourth quarter to send the contest into overtime at 38-38.

-- With the offenses completely controlling the flow of play, Notre Dame answers with a touchdown on its next possession. The Fighting Irish once again avoid facing a single third down. 31-27, Notre Dame.

-- Navy scores a touchdown on its next possession, converting a third and seven in the process. 34-31, Navy, midway through the fourth quarter.

-- Notre Dame scores a touchdown in response. On one of the two key plays of the game, the Irish convert a third and eight to sustain their drive. 38-34, Notre Dame, with just under four minutes left in the game.

-- Notre Dame stops Navy’s end-around to the wide side of the field, preserving its victory and giving the Midshipmen a wrenching loss on a day when they played extremely well.

-- After four easy touchdowns in overtime, two by each offense, Navy’s defense intercepts a pass by San Jose State’s star quarterback, David Fales. The pick comes on third and goal at the Navy 3. The Midshipmen then score on their next possession to win the game, 58-52.

ARMY

-- Late in the first quarter, Army fumbles at the Navy 38.

-- Navy gets a field goal on its next possession, but the Midshipmen were stopped by Army after gaining a first and goal at the Black Knights’ 4.

-- Army tries to build momentum after its defensive stand, going for it on fourth and three at the Navy 33, but the Midshipmen stop the Black Knights.

-- Army commits a personal foul on third and six, giving Navy a first down. Navy then produces a 39-yard touchdown run for a 10-0 lead.

-- Navy intercepts Army on the Black Knights’ next possession, but Army’s defense responds by stopping Navy at midfield.

-- Navy’s defense forces a three-and-out.

-- Navy uncorks a 47-yard touchdown run on the next possession for a 17-0 lead.

-- Early in the second half, Army’s defense stops Navy on a fourth and three for the Midshipmen at the Army 29. Army then scores a touchdown on its next possession. 17-7, Navy.

-- On Navy’s next possession, Army allows a field goal but makes another red-zone stop to stay in the game. 20-7, Navy.

-- Navy’s defense, aided by a false start from Army on third and 1, makes another fourth-and-three stop.

-- Navy’s offense goes three-and-out, but the defense responds with a three-and-out of its own.

-- Navy’s offense, held in check for much of the game, scores a touchdown on its next possession, converting a third and seven. The Midshipmen put away the game, 28-7, early in the fourth quarter.

ARMED FORCES BOWL: MIDDLE TENNESSEE

-- Navy scores a touchdown on its first drive of the game.

-- Navy’s defense gives up a field goal on Middle Tennessee’s next possession, but it makes a stand inside its own 30, something that will happen again as the day unfolds in Fort Worth. 7-3, Midshipmen.

-- While the offense struggles for much of the first half following the first-drive touchdown, Navy’s defense holds firm. With Navy leading, 10-3, later in the first half, the Midshipmen’s defense gets a stop inside its own red zone. MTSU settles for three points once again. 10-6, Navy.

-- Navy fumbles in the MTSU red zone. The Blue Raiders get to the Navy 41 just before halftime but can’t score. 10-6, Navy, at the intermission.

-- On MTSU’s first possession of the second half, the Blue Raiders drive to the Navy 7, but the Midshipmen get yet another stop near their own goal line, stuffing a fourth and two to preserve a four-point lead.

-- Navy fumbles in MTSU’s red zone for the second time in the Armed Forces Bowl.

-- Navy’s defense forces a punt on the Blue Raiders’ next possession.

-- Navy’s offense converts a third and 10 at its own 20, in retrospect, the biggest play of the game other than any of the Midshipmen’s defensive stops in the red zone. The Midshipmen use that third-down conversion as the gateway to a long touchdown drive and a pressure-relieving 17-6 lead.

-- Navy’s defense comes up with an interception.

-- Navy’s offense scores a touchdown in two plays after the pick. 24-6, Navy. Game over.

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