- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 3, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — Last season Navy fullback Adam Ballard rumbled through the middle of the Army defense for 192 yards, but yesterday was decidedly different.

Ballard went down awkwardly on his second carry against the Black Knights at Lincoln Financial Field before hopping toward the Navy sideline. He left the playing field on crutches and an X-ray revealed Ballard has a broken right fibula.

When Ballard returned to the Navy bench with his right leg immobilized, he joined senior Brian Hampton as starters-turned-cheerleaders because of severe injury.

“Any time you lose a player of Adam’s potential it hurts a little, but we’ve lost guys all year and other guys stepped up,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “Matt Hall and Eric Kettani both ran the ball hard. The way their defense was we really needed to run the ball inside.”

Kettani, a sophomore, replaced Ballard and finished with a team-high 67 yards on 15 carries. Army’s defense was designed to limit Navy’s effectiveness on the perimeter and the Midshipmen’s slotbacks struggled. Junior Reggie Campbell and sophomore Shun White combined for 48 yards on 10 carries — both finishing well below their season averages.

Still, Kettani and Hall — who spelled the sophomore with 19 yards on seven carries — rarely found wide-open spaces like Ballard did last season and Kyle Eckel did before him. Often their yards were after first contact and hard earned.

This was Kettani’s second chance for significant playing time. Ballard left the game against Eastern Michigan with a sprained ankle and Kettani responded with a team-high 91 yards on 14 carries. He began the season at No. 3 on the depth chart, but moved past Hall, who was the starter in 2005 before a season-ending knee injury against Notre Dame.

Ballard is expected to have surgery tomorrow and will not be available for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 30 against either Boston College, Clemson or Maryland.

“Adam’s definitely a huge part of our offense, but we have other guys who are outstanding running backs also,” sophomore quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada said. “It is good to know we can shuffle our fullbacks in there and anyone can get in there and run it and be fine.”

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