Late Navy FG edges Rutgers 23-21
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)—Eric Kettani had his breakthrough game at the right time for Navy.
Kettani had a career-high 133 yards on 20 carries to help the Mids to a 23-21 win over Rutgers on Saturday. He rushed for 42 yards on the 63-yard drive that led to Matt Harmon’s winning 24-yard field goal, which gave the Midshipmen (2-2) the win over winless Rutgers (0-3) in a game attended by Naval Academy graduate and presidential candidate John McCain.
Kettani led the team in rushing in 2007, but has had just 21 carries this season and sat out all but the first play of last week’s loss to Duke.
McCain was in town for the 50th reunion of the Class of 1958 and for however long he stayed to watch the game, he was part of a record Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium crowd of 37,821, even if he probably was gone when Harmon’s kick put Navy up for good with 2 minutes, 6 seconds left.
“It felt good (to make the game-winning kick),” said Harmon, who also converted on field goals from 26 and 36 yards in the first half and ran his streak of successful PATs to 60.
“I knew Rutgers didn’t have any timeouts left, so I knew they couldn’t ice me,” Harmon said of the winner. “I could just go out there and get set.”
Ross Pospisil sealed the win for the Mids with an interception at midfield with 1:34 left.
Kettani gained 102 yards in the second half as the Mids rallied from a 14-6 deficit.
“We know what Eric can do. He’s going to have some nicks and bruises tonight,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We challenged him and we said we needed the Eric of old.”
“I felt about 75, 80 percent today,” Kettani said. “As a fullback we have to push through that. I tried to break some of those long runs.”
The nation’s leading rusher heading into the game, Navy’s Shun White was held to 85 yards as the Mids’ top-ranked rushing offense gained just 272 yards (98 below its season average).
Quarterback Kaipo Kaheaku-Enhada had been hampered by a hamstring injury, but played his first full game of the season and completed 5 of 8 passes for 89 yards and ran for 47 yards. He threw a scoring pass of 22 yards to Tyree Barnes, who also had a catch for 47 yards.
“Tyree made me look good today. There were some questionable passes by me today,” Kaheaku-Enhada said.
Rutgers freshman Jourdan Brooks rushed for 134 yards and scored two touchdowns in his first start. Mike Teel completed 13 of 20 passes for 131 yards with an interception.
“Our big mantra all week has been to finish,” Niumatalolo said. “We kept the sticks moving. I’ve been here 11 years (10 as an assistant) and today’s win is right up there with all of them.”
Earlier, Kettani had a 44-yard gain that started a 94-yard drive that ended in his 2-yard run and put Navy up 20-14.
Rutgers came back with an 84-yard drive which ended in Brooks’ 12-yard scoring run and a 21-20 Rutgers lead.