PHILADELPHIA – Army’s best chance to score came midway through the first quarter.
Navy punter Kyle Delahooke deftly chased down a bad snap in the end zone, then booted about as welcome a 13-yard punt as anyone could ever come up with. Army took over near midfield, went three-and-out, and Navy proceeded to cobble together a drive for a field goal to make it 10-0.
The Cadets never did score, instead enduring the first shutout in the series since 1978.
“I’m on him to take a safety and throw it out of bounds,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “The kid had enough composure to get the ball, turn around, see he had time and get it off. I think that was the turning point in the game.”
It was quite the sight from the sideline, too.
“I was a punter in high school, and I was told if it goes over your head in the end zone just to kick it back for a safety, ” fullback Eric Kettani said. “It was real impressive. I was proud of him.”
It’s tough to say what was the most impressive part of that play. Maybe it was Delahooke’s awareness. Perhaps it was his ability to smoothly uncork a punt under those conditions. And maybe it was the fact none of Navy’s linemen went downfield.
“Like I said, that’s why it goes to show that coaching’s overrated,” Niumatalolo said.