Owens Owns Philly... and Navy Greatness

How fitting that on the same field where Terrell Owens disgraced professional sports with his antics and all-around classless behavior, another Owens--this one with a lot more class, character and virtue--made a name for himself.

Indeed, on the same Lincoln Financial Field turf where the Philadelphia Eagles play, Lamar Owens put on a show that any Philadelphian could admire. With a display of picture-perfect brilliance in the second and third quarters--a 30-minute sequence straight from football nirvana--the Navy quarterback earned a lot of admiration from his teammates in the City of Brotherly Love.

Think this praise is lavish or excessive? Think again. The story of the 2005 Army-Navy Game is pretty simple: when the Midshipmen were flagging early on and looking for answers against an Army team that came ready to play, Owens filled the void. He turned questions into answers. He stepped up and put an indelible mark on this game.

After the Black Knights took a 10-7 lead on a 3rd and 18 touchdown pass that stunned Navy's shellshocked secondary, the Johnson Boys needed an answer to turn the game in their favor. It was at precisely this point that Owens needed to prove that he was a worthy successor to Craig Candeto and Aaron Polanco, previous Paul Johnson quarterbacks who helped the Midshipmen win three straight against Army and tie the all-time series at 49-49-7. If you're an Annapolis football man, your reputation is made or broken in this game, and after a season of learning and growing, Owens encountered the final exam of his first full season under center at Navy.

The young man got an A-plus for what he did in the middle two quarters on Saturday.

First and foremost, Owens' triple option reads--the source, summit and center of everything Coach Johnson hopes to accomplish on offense--were virtually flawless. Owens' execution, ballhandling and--perhaps most importantly--his timing enabled the Midshipmen to outflank Army on the edges and bust the "net" the Black Knights' coaching staff hoped to use to contain Navy's vaunted and unpredictable attack.

Secondly, Owens displayed great body language. In a position of leadership, Owens consistently provided positive energy that his teammates readily absorbed, and that confidence helped Navy turn the tide after Army controlled the game's first 15 minutes. By giving off good vibes, Owens set a tone for the rest of the Navy offense, and the momentum gained and established by the triple option in the second and third quarters was a testament to the excellence of Owens' performance as a field general.

Third, Owens was able to throw the ball and execute a two-minute drill, adding new elements to his football repertoire. In a display worthy of last-minute master and Navy legend Roger Staubach, Owens--with his arm, his legs, and an alert mind--ably guided the Midshipmen to a touchdown with just seven seconds left in the first half to break open a close game and give the Johnson Boys a 21-10 lead heading into the locker room. With that particular touchdown drive, Owens broke Army's spirit while giving every white-shirted player the sure knowledge that Navy would and could do whatever it took to win. After two touchdown drives fashioned exclusively by the triple option, that third scoring march--accomplished with a little bit of everything--fed the Navy steamroller while deflating the energies of an Army team that invested so much into the first 15-20 minutes of play. When Navy was able to turn back Army's initial thrust, absorb several body blows, and respond with a 21-point second quarter, the Black Knights were never the same team again. And it was Lamar Owens who engineered that decisive quarter more than any other Navy player.

After the halftime break, the momentum only continued for the Midshipmen, and with the score 35-10 near the end of the third quarter, it was all over but the shouting. An Owens had dominated in Philly, but not Terrell; no, it was Lamar Owens who made this city--and the greatest rivalry in college football--his very own on one special Saturday afternoon. For his efforts, Owens now has a piece of precious gridiron immortality, first for being a Navy hero against Army; secondly, for giving the Midshipmen a 50-49-7 edge in the all-time series; and third, for giving the Johnson Boys their third straight Commander-In-Chief Trophy as they head to the Poinsettia Bowl against Colorado State.

Lamar Owens. He owned this Army-Navy Game. The story couldn't be any better for a team and program that just continues to rack up the accomplishments, led by a quarterback who just secured himself a place in a very special pantheon.

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