Navy Football: 5 Highlights of the 2012 Season

David Aldridge@davidmaldridgeFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

Navy Football: 5 Highlights of the 2012 Season

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    2012 was an exciting time for Navy football, and there is great optimism heading into next season.

    The 2013 Navy Midshipmen will feature Keenan Reynolds, an exciting young quarterback who has the potential to be one of the most dynamic players at the Naval Academy in some time.

    Yet, as the coaches and players use the offseason as a time to prepare for the future, the fans can use this time to reflect back on the best moments of last season.

    Let's look at five of the best highlights from Navy's 2012 season.

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Overtime Win at Air Force

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    When Air Force took a 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter of this game, it looked like the Midshipmen were about to drop their third straight in this rivalry.

    Then, while Navy was in the midst of a drive to potentially tie the game, quarterback Trey Miller went down with an injury, forcing Ken Niumatalolo to turn to Keenan Reynolds, an unproven freshman backup.

    Reynolds entered the game and finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run and never relinquished the quarterback job going forward.

    The Midshipmen converted the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime and caught a bit of luck when offensive lineman Jake Zuzek recovered a fumbled snap in the end zone to give the Naval Academy a 28-21 lead.

    The Navy defense made an impressive stand to finish off the game and give the team a surprising comeback victory, giving them an early lead in the race for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

Win on the Road at Central Michigan

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    Keenan Reynolds had his coming-out party in this big victory on the road over Central Michigan—a Friday night game that aired on ESPN.

    The Navy quarterback was impressive in his first start and displayed his unique versatility by throwing for three touchdown passes while also running for 59 yards and leading his team to a 31-13 victory.

    The defense for the Midshipmen also had an impressive performance against the Chippewas, who were known for their high-scoring passing attack. Navy held Central Michigan to only 151 yards passing, and none of their receivers caught more than four passes.

    It was a dominant all-around performance for the Naval Academy in a hostile environment on the road.

Fourth-Quarter Comeback Against Indiana

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    In one of the most entertaining college football games all year, the Midshipmen pulled off an incredible fourth-quarter comeback in a 31-30 win over Indiana.

    Trailing 30-21 in the fourth quarter, Keenan Reynolds lead the offense on two long scoring drives and the Navy defense made two big stops to prevent the Hoosiers from taking valuable time off the clock.

    With the Midshipmen down by six points and a little over two minutes to play, Reynolds was able to find Matt Aiken in the corner of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass.

    The subsequent extra point gave Navy the lead, and the defense was able to preserve the victory with one final stop.

    At the time, it was the third straight win for the Naval Academy and another impressive performance by the freshman quarterback.

Dominating Performance Against East Carolina

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    After suffering a heartbreaking loss to East Carolina in 2011, Navy was looking to steal a victory on the road against the Pirates.

    East Carolina entered the game favored by a field goal, but this turned out to be one of the most impressive and dominating performances of the year by the Naval Academy in a 56-28 win.

    The Midshipmen jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter and had tremendous success running the ball all day. Navy racked up 512 yards on the ground and finished the game with 563 yards of total offense.

    It was also a huge day for quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who finished with three rushing and two passing touchdowns.

11th Consecutive Victory over Army

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    A win over Army is the biggest highlight of any season at the Naval Academy, and the Midshipmen delivered for the 11th straight time in 2012.

    Keenan Reynolds led another impressive fourth-quarter comeback, completing a 49-yard pass to Brandon Turner and then scoring on an eight-yard touchdown run with under five minutes to play to give the Midshipmen a 17-13 lead.

    The Navy defense also recovered a critical fumble by Army's Trent Steelman late in the game to seal the victory.

    The win over Army gave the Naval Academy the 2012 Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, which had belonged to Air Force the previous two years.

    And the celebration of the victory even served as the perfect backdrop for Navy linebacker Brye French to propose to his girlfriend.