Navy Beats Army For Only Win

Melanie Larkin, center, and her mother Laurie Tang, right, wait in line to pay for shoes they are buying on sale at Macy's in San Francisco on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006. AP/SF Chronicle, Deanne Fitzmaurice

When he looks back on a season that began with 10 straight losses, Navy senior Chris Lepore will tap his selective memory to focus on the game that counted most.

"All I'm going to remember is we beat Army," said Lepore, who had an interception and a fumble recovery. "We wanted to go out on top."

Navy found the ideal way to end its perfectly awful season, taking advantage of five turnovers and getting a solid performance from Brian Broadwater in a dramatic 30-28 victory Saturday.

Looking for their first win since last year's Army-Navy game, the Midshipmen (1-10) built a 20-point lead late in the third quarter and held on to beat the bumbling Black Knights.

Navy lost the ball twice and had a field goal and a punt blocked. But the Midshipmen nevertheless won a second straight game in the series for the first time since 1982-83.

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  • "It was almost like momentum got caught in the middle a couple of times and didn't know which way to go," Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said.

    Army (1-10) used two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Curtis Zervic to cut the gap to 30-28 with 2:44 left, but an onside kick failed and Navy retained possession when the Black Knights were called for running into the kicker on a 43-yard field goal try with 1:29 to go.

    Michael Wallace had 159 yards rushing and a touchdown for Army, which capped its worst season since going 0-10 in 1973. Wallace finished with 1,157 yards on the ground, third-best total in Army history.

    But what he'll remember most is a fumble that Navy's Brad Wimsatt took into the end zone for a touchdown.

    "I could have had the best rushing game I ever had, but that one turnover is what I'm going to remember," he said. "To have such a critical turnover is what is going to be with me the rest of my life.

    "I don't have a chance to come out and prove it next week," he said. "It's over for meThat's just something I'm going to have to live with from here on out."

    Despite the loss, Army still holds a 48-46-7 lead in the series.

    "I think it's very obvious with the turnovers, and the penalties, that we didn't play very well," said first-year Army coach Todd Berry. "We kept on finding ways to shoot ourselves."

    Although it's been a trying season for the Midshipmen, they can take solace in beating Army and averting only the third winless season in the history of the program. The 1883 Navy team went 0-1 and the 1948 squad finished 0-8-1.

    Navy concluded its season on a high note in part because Broadwater finished his career with a flourish. The senior quarterback, who missed last year's Army game with a broken collarbone, directed the option attack with near flawless precision and passed just often enough to keep the Army defense honest.

    He averaged 6.6 yards per carry in the first half, when Navy held the ball for more than 23 minutes.

    Navy went up 27-7 with 3:22 left in the third quarter when Wimsatt took Wallace's fumble three yards into the end zone.

    The Midshipmen then let the Black Knights back into the game. First, Army scored on a blocked punt. Then, after Navy lost a fumble, Army closed to 27-21 on a 23-yard TD pass from Zervic to Brian Bruenton on a fourth-and-16 play.

    Navy appeared on the verge of collapse before one final Army turnover temporarily stopped the onslaught. Four plays after Omari Thompson fumbled a punt, David Hills kicked a field goal for a nine-point cushion with 5:32 to play.

    Whether it was nerves, or simply the product of two teams logging a combined 1-19 record, the first few minutes of the game were rife with errors.

    It began on the opening kickoff, which bounced out of bounds. Army punter Dan MacElroy then dropped the snap to conclude the Black Knights' first series, and Navy gave it back three plays later on a botched pitchout.

    Then Wallace burst through the line and into the clear for a 65-yard touchdown run that gave Army its only lead. A field goal and a 45-yard touchdown run by Broadwater put the Midshipmen up 10-7.

    Broadwater made it 17-7 by taking the Midshipmen into the end zone by a different route, a 32-yard TD pass to a wide open Brian Williams.


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