- The Washington Times - Friday, October 23, 2009

When Navy finally played an overtime game in 2006, it became the last program in the Football Bowl Subdivision to do so. Based on their success in overtime ever since, the Midshipmen were missing out all those years.

After dropping that first overtime contest to Tulsa and their next one a year later to Ball State, the Mids have frequented overtime with great success. Since October 2007, they have won five straight extra-session affairs.

“Being in a lot of them helps us to stay calm,” linebacker Clint Sovie said. “Winning breeds a positive atmosphere. So whenever you keep winning, you have this idea of ‘We can do this.’ When we get in those situations, we’re ready.”

Navy’s offense carried the load in its first two overtime wins - against Pittsburgh and Notre Dame in 2007. Those two games went a combined five extra periods, with the Mids’ offense outpacing the opposition. Finally, in the third overtime against the Fighting Irish, Navy’s defense made a play, stuffing running back Travis Thomas on a two-point-conversion attempt to seal the win that snapped its 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame.

Navy’s defense has been stout in overtime since that fateful afternoon in South Bend, Ind., not allowing a point in an extra session.

“The mentality is ‘We can’t let them get a first down’ because if we do, they’re inside the 15, and most teams will score from inside the 15,” Sovie said. “We just try to keep the field goal as far away as possible and then try to get a good push or a good run off the end on the kick.”

That formula has worked twice for the Mids (5-2) this year, and they have gotten stronger with each showing. Against rival Air Force on Oct. 3, Navy gave up one first down and forced the Falcons into a 31-yard attempt. Last week at SMU, Navy again played defense first and held firm, forcing the Mustangs to lose a yard on three plays before a 43-yard field goal attempt.

Both kicks sailed wide.

“You know there’s no room for error,” defensive captain Ross Pospisil said. “You know they’re in field goal range and there’s a good chance they are going to come away with points. So you just want to back them up, give up nothing at all. It’s selling out completely, risking everything and just going for it.”

While his counterparts have failed this season, junior kicker Joe Buckley has taken advantage of the opportunity in clutch situations. Navy’s kicking situation was shaky at best early in the season as Buckley and sophomore Jon Teague struggled to replace graduated record-setting kicker Matt Harmon. But Buckley won the permanent job with his game-winning kick against Air Force and solidified it last week against the Mustangs.

“Every kick is the same to me. I really don’t care what the other guy did. I have to make mine regardless,” Buckley said. “It doesn’t change my demeanor going into the kick. I just line up, pick my target and go from there.”

Considering the setup of college overtime, it is hard to envision such a streak. And in fact, Navy’s five straight overtime wins is tied for the NCAA record.

The Mids are usually undersized and constantly rely on toughness to overcome their physical disadvantage. Similar intangibles have no doubt factored into their success in pressure-filled situations.

“I think just kind of the nature of being at this school and a lot of the things guys go through here, when guys on this team realize their backs are against the wall, they respond in a special way,” Pospisil said. “I love the situation. It’s a blast. It’s fun memories that we’ll always be able to look back at.”

Note - Quarterback Ricky Dobbs (knee) missed his third straight practice Thursday. As a result, sophomore Kriss Proctor will make his first career start Saturday against Wake Forest.



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