Service Academy Football: Upsets at Colorado Springs and West Point

Ken Kraetzer@SAL50NYRadioCorrespondent IIOctober 8, 2012

Navy Wins First Commander-In-Chief Game
Navy Wins First Commander-In-Chief GameRon Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Overtime determined the outcome of the first Commander-In-Chief game of the season among the three major service academy football teams as Navy (2-3) defeats Air Force (2-3) at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs 28-21 while Army (1-4) scored a last minute touchdown to win its first game of the year 34-31 over Boston College. 

A crowd of 38,927 at Falcon Stadium saw Navy win the C-In-C game when 318 pound guard Jake Zuzsek jumped on a loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.  On the Falcons last chance at possession, Navy defensive end Wes Henderson knocked down a fourth down Air Force pass attempt. the Mids starting QB Trey Miller ran for 110 yards before hurting an ankle and being replaced by freshman Keenan Reynolds. 

Sr. Air Force back Cody Getz rushed for 204 yards on the day as the Falcons out gained the Mids by the wide margin of 507 to 359 yards.  Navy freshman Nick Sloan kicked two field goals of 39 and 41 yards while Air Force kicker Parker Herrington missed attempts from 27 and 51 yards.  Air Force was hurt by losing three fumbles, while converting just two of ten third down plays.

Key play was a two point conversion run by Navy fullback Noah Copeland that tied the score at 21 all, after a 15 yard score by  Keenan Reynolds with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo commented on his team perseverance,

"We just continued to battle. Things have looked bleak, like I said, not just in this game, but this year—but our guys just continue to fight. That’s who we are though. The United States Naval Academy is producing leaders and fighters for our country, and our country should be proud of them. Obviously, it’s great to win anytime, but to beat a great program like Air Force, our rival. Like I said, this hasn’t been such a great year for us. We just got shut out at home. To have something positive, I’m just happy for our guys.”

Navy will play next week at Central Michigan while Air Force travels north to face Wyoming in Laramie.

A capacity crowd of 39,492 at West Point witnessed the Army (1-4) defense make a defensive stop on Boston College (1-4) in the last two minutes providing QB Trent Steelman one last drive, culminating in a 29 yard touch down run in a 34-31 win over the Eagles.

In a game much like Army's one point loss to Northern Illinois three weeks ago, the lead changed hands six times.  Tied 24 all going into the fourth quarter, Army freshman kicker Dan Grochowski kicked a 20 yard field goal to give Army a three point lead.  Boston College then proceeded down the field 77 yards finishing the drive on a reverse by wide out Alex Amidon good for 24 yard touchdown run and to take back the lead 31-27.

Army then went 74 yards down the field but on a fourth and goal from the one, the Eagle defense smothered Army's top runner Raymond Maples short of the goal.  The Army defense rallied stopping three straight BC plays and forcing a punt that went out of bounds at their own 38.

The Black Knights ran two plays before QB Trent Steelman, ran the option to his left, received a great block from back Malcomb Brown and accelerated through a hole 29 yards for the winning score.

Army ran for 516 yards in the game led by 184 yards by Raymond Maples, 141 yards gained along with three touchdowns scored by Steelman, and 128 yards gained by Larry Dixon along with a touchdown.  Boston College's Andre Williams ran for 191 yards and scored two touchdowns including a 99 yard run in the second quarter Steelman score in the fourth quarter broke the Academy career record for touchdowns scored with 36 passing Tory Crawford's record 35 set from 1984-1987.   

Army head coach Rich Ellerson was pleased that his team made the plays enabling the Black Knights to win their first game of the season commenting,

 “Our guys love to play, and that was kind of the war cry all week.  We knew it was going to be a hard game. We expected it to be a 15-round fight. We didn’t expect to have as many guys go down, but guys kept stepping up and making plays. When it got its darkest, nobody blinked. Nobody liked it, but nobody blinked. We kept playing. The guys love to play. They love to fight.”  

Army will play their third home game in a row next Saturday when they host Kent State from the Mid-American Conference.

In other games, Coast Guard (2-3) lost 44-21 to Bridgewater State (5-1) at Cadet Memorial Field in New London, CT.  At Kings Point, NY, Rochester defeated Merchant Marine (3-3) by score of 44-26. SUNY Maritime College (2-3) defeated ECFC Conference opponent Becker College, 33-7, at Reinhart Field in Throgs Neck, NY. Also in the ECFC, at Northfield, VT, Norwich (3-2) lost 35-27 to state rival Castleton State College.  

In Lexington, VA,  VMI (2-3) won their Big South conference opener 17-7 over Presbyterian College.  The Citadel (3-3) lost at Samford to a 38-7 in a Southern Conference game.

Sports Illustrated writer and West Point graduate Mark Beech will be Ken Kraetzer's guest at Monday 2:30 p.m. EST on the Sons of the American Legion Radio Report to discuss his new book about Army football in the 1950s glory years, When Saturday's Mattered Most. On Tuesday, National Football Foundation Hall of Famer and former Army head coach Jim Young will be the guest on the West Point Football Report, to be aired at 5 p.m. EST Tuesday on WVOX in New Rochelle, NY.

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