AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Another wild overtime finish in the Navy-Air Force rivalry. Only, this time, the Midshipmen came out on top in their quest to regain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
Navy beat Air Force 28-21 on Saturday when right guard Jake Zuzek recovered freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds' fumbled snap in the end zone.
"I had no clue he had fumbled the ball," Zuzek said. "I just saw it when I was on the bottom of the pile. I wasn't letting it go for anything."
After the weird touchdown, defensive end Wes Henderson knocked down Connor Dietz's pass on fourth-and-6 from the 21 to seal Navy's win, a significant first step in the Midshipmen's quest to regain the trophy that represents superiority among the three service academies.
"Last year was so painful to see the seniors go out like that. To win like this is really indescribable," Henderson said. "It's probably one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life."
Last year's game also went to overtime in Annapolis, Md., with Air Force prevailing 35-34 thanks to a controversial call. Officials ruled a touchdown celebration by Navy went overboard, and penalized the Midshipmen for unsportsmanlike conduct. The long conversion attempt from 35 yards was blocked by Alex Means. Then, the Falcons scored, and Parker Herrington added the conversion to give Air Force the wild win.
Herrington had the chance to win it again this time, but his 51-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired in regulation. It was his second miss of the afternoon and fifth in six tries this season for the senior.
After starting the season with blowout losses to Notre Dame and Penn State and then getting shut out by San Jose State at home last week, Navy (2-3) needs only to beat Army on Dec. 8 to regain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy that the Falcons (2-3) have had in their possession the last two years.
Dietz said he was confident the Falcons would match Navy's touchdown in overtime because "we had only stopped ourselves the whole game."
They had lost fumbles on three straight drives and blew a late eight-point lead in the second half with Navy's starting quarterback sidelined with an ankle injury.
"This game never should have been this close," Means said.
"It's football, you never know," Dietz said. "Obviously, I think we missed a lot of opportunities, I'll say that. But, you have to give them credit. You let somebody hang around, it never ends up good."
Cody Getz rushed for 204 yards and a score, becoming the first Air Force player to post three 200-yard games in one season. He is the second Mountain West Conference running back to do that, joining San Diego State's Larry Ned (2001).
It wasn't enough to keep the Midshipmen from celebrating wildly on Air Force's field — and in the coaches' box adjacent to the press box, where some salty language reverberated loudly after Henderson's pass deflection sealed Navy's wild win.