But enough of worried pronouncements and killjoy lectures about the defense. Back to the fun for the "Milestone Midshipmen."
Just absorb what these Annapolis footballers did in Denton, Texas:
* 572 rushing yards, a Navy record.
* 35 second-quarter points, part of a combined 63 with the Mean Green. This set a Football Bowl Subdivision (major college football) record
* 74 total points, part of a combined 136 with North Texas, also an FBS record.
* 45 first-half points, part of a combined 94, also--yup--an FBS record.
* Only 5 third downs faced, total. This is an incredible stat when you consider how many points Navy scored. It's an exponentially more eye-popping stat when you realize that Paul Johnson's offense scored just about every time it had the ball. This particular detail of Saturday's game borders on the ridiculous. Scratch that--it IS ridiculous.
* Only 6 passes thrown, total. Not a whopper for a run-first team, but a staggering fact in light of Navy's incredible offensive output. You'd think that Kaipo would have had to snooker the Mean Green defense on a few more bombs (he did so on Navy's very first touchdown, but not the last nine... yes, the last NINE touchdowns), but he didn't need to. Navy's offense was that awesome, that prolific, that locked into video game mode. After doing something that hadn't been done in 44 years on Nov. 3, Navy did a whole bunch of things that had NEVER been done on Nov. 10, seven short days later.
Think of the other mind-boggling realities to emerge from this contest:
* Navy overcame five separate 18-point deficits: 21-3, 28-10, 35-17, 42-24, and 49-31.
* Navy gave up 62 points... and won... BY DOUBLE DIGITS.
* Navy allowed a freshman-record eight touchdown passes by North Texas quarterback Giovanni Vizza... and won comfortably when all was said and done. Navy's defense was itself a pizza sliced up by Mr. Vizza. But despite being cut up and gobbled up on defense, the Midshipmen threw the victory party at the end because of Kaipo's crew.
* When you realize that North Texas' last touchdown was a garbage touchdown, it must be said that Navy's defense--after the fright show in the first half--allowed only one meaningful scoring drive in the second half, a tremendous display of resilience by a unit that, for all of the afternoon's fireworks, did its part after halftime.
This was, simply stated, one for the history books. It's been that kind of season for Navy: even with all of this team's deficiencies, the Milestone Midshipmen are making magical memories and mighty moments that will live forever in Navy football history.
On one hand, it's manifestly absurd that this team should have allowed 43 to Duke and 44 to Notre Dame (albeit in overtime), along with 59 to Delaware and 62 to North Texas this past weekend. But for all of this team's defensive deficiencies, this team has just punched another ticket to another postseason game, the Poinsettia Bowl. To be honest, it won't feel like a bowl-level season unless or until this ballclub reaches seven wins and assures itself of a winning record. With that said, though, this group has already proven that it can elevate its game when necessary, and persevere when in trouble. Navy's offense has had to be spectacular for the Milestone Midshipmen to win as often as they have in 2007; spectacular it has been, then, for Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and a collection of young men that has never given up the ship when the chips were down.
This past Saturday in a sleepy Texas town that was enlivened by first-rate pyrotechnics, Navy could have drowned on five separate occasions when North Texas established an 18-point bulge. Five times, this team responded, and on the fifth attempt to swim to safety, the Milestone Midshipmen didn't just get the life raft; they climbed aboard and commandered the whole air craft carrier to find safe harbor and the port of victory. And as a result of finding a way to win another difficult game, Navy will also enjoy the port of San Diego, where this team will once again spend the days before Christmas. The Poinsettia Bowl is a fitting reward for a team that has rewritten many record books while retaining the grit and resilience that have characterized the winning ways of Annapolis football in the Paul Johnson era.