10 Most Memorable Moments of Decade (Updated)

GoMids.com assembled an all-star cast of media personalities to come up with the top ten most memorable moments in Navy football in the 2000s. There were very few rules other than the fact that the ‘moment' did not have to be a game or necessarily a positive memory. As it turns out the contributors voted three off-the-field moments into the top ten. NOTE: Moments 5 through 1 have been added.

Before we get to the list, a special thank you must be extended to those members of the media who helped me compile the list. They are: Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital; Pete Medhurst, WNAV; Christian Swezey, GoMids.com; and Adam Nettina, GoMids.com.

We hope that you enjoy our list and that you will go to the GoMids.com message boards and debate our selections.

Now on with the countdown!

#10

"THE KICK"

What: Navy 27, Air Force 24

Dateline: Annapolis, MD

When: October 8, 2005

Storyline: Both teams entered the game with losing records and thus were pretty desperate for a victory. The Midshipmen entered the game 1-2 having started the season with two, three-point losses to BCS schools (Maryland and Stanford). The Falcons were 2-3 and were coming off of three-straight conference losses (Utah, Wyoming and Colorado State). As always, the winner of the game would have a leg up in the Commander in Chief's Trophy competition. And ironically it would be Navy kicker Joey Bullen who provided that leg up with his clutch field goal to cap off the comeback victory.

Memorable Moments: 1) Joey Bullen's game-winning 46-yard field goal in a driving rain. 2) Reggie Campbell's game-tying 40-yard touchdown run - with tape from his uniform flying off. 3) Air Force punter Donny Heaton's improbable 9-yard punt to set-up Bullen's kick.

#9

"THE CALL"

What: Navy 48, Pittsburgh 45 (2 OT)

Dateline: Pittsburgh, PA

When: October 10, 2007

Storyline: Navy had righted the ship after two early losses in the season and was 3-2 headed into the Wednesday night nationally televised game. Its offense, led by quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, was averaging 32 points a game; however Navy's defense was struggling to the tune of giving up 31 points a game. The Panthers meanwhile were having problems on both sides of the ball and there was a lot of speculation that their head coach, Dave Wannstedt was in jeopardy of losing his job. That speculation reached a fever pitch after the embattled coach decided to go for a win in double overtime instead of taking a chip shot field goal. Even more debated after the game was the play call on the fourth and two, do or die situation.

Memorable Moments: 1) Navy's first play on offense: A 49-yard pass play from Kaipo to O.J. Washington. 2) Reggie Campbell's 60-yard kick-off return in the third quarter. 3) Joey Bullen's 48-yard field goal miss with seven seconds left. 4) Kaipo's 25-yard TD pass to Campbell in the first overtime. 5) Wannstedt's decision to go for the win and the resulting play call (fade route).

#8

"THE COMEBACK"

What: Navy 33, Temple 27 (OT)

Dateline: Annapolis, MD

When: November 1, 2008

Storyline: A week after beating SMU 34-7 without attempting a pass, Navy was looking to become bowl eligible against an improved but still mistake-prone Temple team. For the Mids, the quarterback shuffle continued a week after senior captain Jarod Bryant went down to an injury against the Mustangs and was relieved by sophomore Ricky Dobbs. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, however, got the start for Navy against the Owls. Meanwhile, Temple put its stock in senior quarterback Adam DiMichele who definitely did not let the Owls down as he went 21-28 with 340 yards and three touchdowns. However, it wouldn't be enough to overcome one of the most improbable finishes in Navy football history. Trailing by 20 points with 14 minutes to play, Dobbs came off the bench to lead the Midshipmen to an amazing victory which sent the team to the EagleBank Bowl the following month.

Memorable Moments: 1) Ricky Dobbs' scramble and 15-yard pass completion to Eric Kettani in the fourth quarter with Navy down 27-7. 2) Kettani's one-yard touchdown run (after a pitch from a smothered Dobbs) on fourth and goal to put the Mids within a touchdown. 3) Temple coach Al Golden's decision to run a play instead of taking the victory formation to run out the clock. 4) The ensuing forced fumble by Ross Pospisil and the touchdown gallup by Clint Sovie which tied the game at 27 and forced overtime. 5) Temple TE Steve Maneri's dropped touchdown pass in overtime on fourth and goal.

#7

"THE DESTRUCTION"

What: Navy 58, Army 12

Dateline: East Rutherford, NJ

When: December 7, 2002

Storyline: Nobody really knew what to expect when a 1-10 Navy team took on a 1-10 Army team in the storied rivalry, and let's face it, outside of Annapolis and West Point, not too many football fans really cared. Both teams were struggling to find their offensive identities with Army trying to figure out Todd Berry's pro-style offense and Navy looking to completely grasp Paul Johnson's triple option scheme. By the end of the game, Midshipmen fans were reborn and Army fans settled in for what would become many winters of discontent. Navy's 46-point victory is still the second-largest in the history of the series and Craig Candeto's seven touchdown (6 rushing, 1 passing) performance will never be forgotten…and maybe never equaled. Since this win, Navy has not lost a service academy game.

Memorable Moments: 1) Craig Candeto's 42-yard touchdown run to put Navy up 21-6 in the second quarter. 2) Lack of penalties – the Mids were not penalized once during the game. 3) Candeto's statement after the game: "It was almost like I was unconscious and living a dream. Hopefully, I won't wake up." 4) Johnson's statement about the defense's effort: "We were getting touchdowns every possession and they had to settle for field goals and it was tough to keep up. I'm not real smart, but seven is more than three." 5) During the pre-game prisoner exchange ritual, Midshipmen taking part in the ceremony spelled out "Let's Roll'' -- in tribute of the now-famous phrase Todd Beamer said from a phone aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

#6

"THE DECISIONS"

What: Paul Johnson Leaves; Ken Niumatalolo Arrives

Dateline: Annapolis, MD

When: December 7-8, 2007

Storyline: Perhaps the fate of Paul Johnson's tenure at Navy was sealed after the Midshipmen beat Notre Dame for the first since 1963 – a moment sure to find its way onto this list – earlier in the season. However, up until the last moment before he made his decision, Johnson said that he could have seen himself in Annapolis for the rest of his career. However, the chance to compete for a national championship at a BCS school was too much to pass over and the man who brought the Midshipmen back into the college football discussion was off to Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, in Annapolis, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk had a plan in place and once Johnson left, he wasted no time in putting it into action. Less than 24 hours after Johnson was introduced as the new Georgia Tech football coach, Ken Niumatalolo was named as his successor. Since then, Johnson is 20-6 in Atlanta and Niumatalolo is 17-9 in Annapolis.

Memorable Moments: 1) Johnson when questioned about who gets credit/blame: "I don't go down to McDonald's and start second-guessing his job so he ought to leave me alone." 2) Johnson about facing Notre Dame in 2004: "I just hope we're not scared." 3) Niumatalolo's post-game interview after beating Army in 2009…no words needed.


#5

"THE DRIVE"

What: Navy, 34, New Mexico 19

Dateline: San Francisco, CA

When: December 30, 2004

Storyline: For the second year in a row, Navy was going bowling. The 9-2 Midshipmen were coming off two blowout victories against Rutgers and Army and had an opportunity to tie the record for most wins in a season. Offensively, the Mids were led by Kyle Eckel and Aaron Polanco while on the defense, Josh Smith, David Mahoney and Bobby McClarin were poised to end the season on a positive note. Their opponent was a streaking 7-4 New Mexico team which was riding an impressive five-game winning streak. Led by 1,000-yard rusher Dontrelle Moore, the Lobos were determined to test Navy's run defense. In the end, a huge goal line stand by Navy and a scoring drive for the record books led the Mids to a victory, a ten-win season, and a national ranking.

Memorable Moments: 1) Cornerback Vaughn Kelley's jarring hit on Dontrelle Moore. 2) Frank Divis' two slot back passes to quarterback Aaron Polanco. 3) Kelley and several members of Navy's defense stopping New Mexico on fourth and goal to keep the score at 31-19 late in the third quarter. 4) Pick any play from the Mids 26-play, 95-yard drive that spanned 14 minutes and 26 seconds.


#4

"THE FIRING"

What: Charlie Weatherbie is fired, Paul Johnson is hired

Dateline: Annapolis, MD

When: October 28, 2001, December 9, 2001

Storyline: It's not very often that a college football coach gets fired before the end of the season and the thought of that happening at the Naval Academy was pretty close to unfathomable. However, that's exactly what happened on Sunday, October 28, 2001, the day after Navy lost 21-20 to Chester Taylor and the Toledo Rockets. It was the Midshipmen's 17th loss in their last 18 games and it was the final chapter in a Charlie Weatherbie era that started off so promising. After posting a 21-13 record in his first three seasons, Weatherbie failed to sustain the success, going 9-41 after the 1997 season. And while defensive coordinator Rick Lantz was named the interim head coach for the final three games of the season, an immediate search was underway for a new coach. A committee made up of former players, Navy athletic officials, and Naval Academy staff members agreed that returning to a triple option offense was needed and that the best person for the job was currently the head coach at Georgia Southern. So on December 9, 2001, Paul Johnson was named the 36th head coach in Naval Academy history.

Memorable Moments under Weatherbie: 1) Weatherbie being carried around the field after Navy beat Army 39-7 in 1997 to break the Cadets' five-game winning streak in the series. 2) Navy fans tearing down the goalpost at Navy Marine-Corps Stadium after the Mids finished unbeaten at home in 1996. 3) Quarterback Ben Fay doing his best hula impression after scoring the deciding touchdown in the 1996 Aloha Bowl.


#3

"THE ARCHITECT"

What: Chet Gladchuk is hired as Navy Athletic Director

Dateline: Annapolis, MD

When: September 4, 2001

Storyline: Former Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel served the Academy for 14 years and you would have a tough time finding anyone who does not have a nice thing about to say about him. Furthermore, the role he played in helping Marshall University and their football program deal with the tragedy surrounding the Southern Airways plane crash that killed nearly the entire team in 1970 is the stuff that legends are made of. However, change came at a good time in Annapolis as the Academy needed a new direction for its athletic department. And the person given the reigns to help steer Navy sports into the new millennium was Chet Gladchuk. Gladchuk came to Navy after spending the previous four years at Houston and since his arrival the Naval Academy has witnessed what most consider the greatest transformation and sustained success in the history of its sports programs.

Memorable Moments: 1) Firing Charlie Weatherbie less than a month after taking the job as AD. 2) Hiring Paul Johnson. 3) Hiring Ken Niumatalolo. 4) Raising the money and leading the renovation of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. 5) Signing a television contract with CSTV. 6) Lining up bowl game after bowl game. 7) Staying at Navy even when other suitors may have pursued him.


#2



"THE TURNING POINT"

What: Navy 28, Air Force 25

Dateline: Landover, MD

When: October 4, 2003

Storyline: The last time Navy had won the Commander in Chief's Trophy was 1981 and if someone was looking for it since then, chances are it was in Colorado Springs. In the 21 years prior to 2003, Air Force won the trophy 16 times (retained it one other time) and Army won it four times. In that span, Navy was 2-19 against Air Force. Navy entered the game 2-2 having just lost to Rutgers 48-27. The Falcons were 5-0, ranked #25 and coming off a 24-10 victory over Utah – their first in Provo since 1982. The Mids and Falcons were the top two rushing teams in the country entering the contest. And it was pretty big news that the game was going to be televised by CN8. Even bigger news was the outcome as Navy prevailed behind an inspiring 33-rush, 176-yard effort by fullback Kyle Eckel. In the 84 games since that victory, Navy is 57-27. In the 84 games prior to that victory, Navy was 24-60. Since that victory Navy is 7-0 against Air Force, and has won seven consecutive Commander in Chief's Trophies.

Memorable Moments: 1) Leading up to the game, Navy coach Paul Johnson remarked, "They have been the benchmark. They've won. They beat us 48-7 last year. That's why I laugh; someone is doing a good job selling the Air Force players that Navy's after them. What we're trying to do is get better and catch up. 2) Eckel's 14-yard run with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. 3) Eckel's 4-yard TD run on fourth and goal to put Navy up 28-18. 4) Linebacker Bobby McClarin's swat of Chance Harridge's pass which would definitely have been a touchdown if not for ‘the club.'


#1

"THE VICTORY"

What: Navy 46, Notre Dame 44 (3 OT)

Dateline: South Bend, IN

When: November 3, 2007

Storyline: A gallon of milk cost $0.49…a gallon of gas cost $0.30…in 1963 which everyone in Annapolis and South Bend knew was the last time the Midshipmen beat the Irish. Roger Staubach was the quarterback; John Kennedy was the President and on, and on, and on. Every season Navy coaches and players would have to answer the question, "Is this the year the streak ends." Some recent years there was some hope the streak would end, but it never did…not until November 3, 2007. The lead sentence of the AP wire story after the game said it well, "It took 44 years and three overtimes for Navy to beat Notre Dame again." It was pretty easily named the number one moment by our panel for the past decade, and I'm sure it would probably make the top ten all-time list for memorable Navy football moments.

Memorable Moments: 1) Ram Vela's leap and sack. 2) Chris Kuhar-Pitters' 16-yard fumble recovery and return for a TD. 3) Reggie Campbell's 25-yard TD reception in the third overtime. 4) Bogus pass interference call on Notre Dame's two-point conversion attempt in the third overtime. 5) Irv Spencer and what seemed like the entire Navy defense stopping Travis Thomas short of the goal line to end the game. 6) The happy chaos that ensued.

The Honorable Mention List:

2005: Poinsettia Bowl – "The Reggie Campbell Show."

2006: Meineke Car Care Bowl – "The One that Got Away."

2007: Navy 74, North Texas, 62 – "The Shootout."

2008: Navy 24, Wake Forest, 17 – "The Upset."

2009: Navy 23, Notre Dame, 21 – "The New Streak."

Of course these 10 entries all have more memorable moments and we hope that you will add yours on the GoMids.com message boards.

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