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Toledo edges Navy in 2nd OT after missed PAT

The SportsXchange

TOLEDO -- Navy kicker Nick Sloan experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum in a short span of time Saturday afternoon.

Sloan first drilled a clutch, career-long 40-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to get the Midshipmen to overtime against Toledo, but then he missed an extra point in the second extra session that led to Navy's 45-44 defeat.

"That's football. That's kicking," Sloan said about the ecstasy and agony of his day. "You make one, and then you miss one, and that's just how it is."

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who had a fumble of his returned for a touchdown by Toledo, did not want Sloan taking the blame for the defeat.

"Losing is losing, so whether it's an extra point or something else, it doesn't matter," Reynolds said.

The game was a showcase for two prolific offenses, with Navy piling up 514 yards and Toledo 426. Navy had 419 rushing yards on 93 attempts, with fullback Noah Copeland carrying the ball 28 times for 153 yards to lead the Midshipmen, who were 7-for-7 inside the red zone against Toledo.

The lead changed hands five times in regulation.

"When you've got two teams that are pretty evenly matched -- an extra point, a missed block, a missed assignment -- it is what it is," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Both sides gave everything they had, but unfortunately, we came up a little short."

The Midshipmen (3-3) battled back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to force the overtime, and after the two teams matched scores in the first overtime, Sloan pushed his extra point kick wide following a six-yard score by Geoffrey Whiteside that put Navy on top, 44-38.

Toledo (4-3) got a 20-yard touchdown pass from Terrance Owens to Bernard Reedy on its possession of the second overtime, and Jeremiah Detmer hit the extra point to give the Rockets the dramatic victory.

"It went back and forth, but I'm really proud of our guys -- we didn't fold the tent when we were down 10 in the fourth quarter," Niumatalolo said.

Sloan hit a career-long 40-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to tie the game and force overtime. That followed a short scoring run by Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds that capped a 96-yard drive and closed the gap to three points with about five minutes left.

Despite having two weeks to prepare for Navy's option attack, Toledo struggled to slow the Midshipmen.

"It's the uniqueness of who they are and what they do on offense," Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. "But they've got the ability to get into some other spread style things due to the talent of their quarterback. They've got a dynamic quarterback and they create some mismatches and some advantages for themselves."

Toledo built its lead with the aid of touchdown runs of 52 yards by David Fluellen and 44 yards by Kareem Hunt, plus a 68-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jayrone Elliott.

The Midshipmen relied on that potent rushing attack, with fullback Chris Swain scoring the game's first touchdown to complete an eight-play, 75-yard push.

Toledo responded with Detmer's 47-yard field goal and trailed, 7-3, midway through the first quarter.

Reynolds' fumble with 13 minutes left in the half was scooped up Elliott and returned for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead.

After Sloan missed a 39-yard field goal try, Navy got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the half and Reynolds put the Middies in the end zone again with a 20-yard pass to Noah Copeland for a 14-10 lead at the half, but the missed opportunities would later haunt Navy.

"We were moving the ball, but not finishing in the first half," Niumatalolo said. "We've got to finish drives and we've got to get off the field against teams on third down."

Toledo regained the advantage to open the third quarter, thanks to a 45-yard burst up the middle by Fluellen, but Navy answered quickly and Reynolds scored on one-yard sneak that made it 21-17.

After Hunt slipped a couple tackles on a 52-yard touchdown run that gave the Rockets a narrow lead into the fourth quarter, Hunt stepped in again and scored on a 16-yard touchdown run, good for the game's first two-score lead at 31-21.

That set the stage for Navy's fourth-quarter comeback that forced the overtime, and the heart-breaking finish.

"Our guys are used to adversity," Niumatalolo said. "We've got tough kids -- so we'll bounce back." Navy faces Pitt at home next Saturday.

NOTES: Before the start of the game, Toledo dedicated a permanently unoccupied seat in its Glass Bowl stadium that will honor military service personnel who were or are prisoners of war (POW) or have been declared missing in action (MIA). Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller of the United States Military Academy took part in the ceremony establishing the honorary seat, believed to be the first of its kind at a university sports venue. ... Navy and Toledo have faced off three previous times, with the Rockets winning the most recent meeting, 21-20, in 2001. ... That 2001 visit to the Glass Bowl by Navy set the stadium attendance record with an announced crowd of 36,852. ... While Navy entered the game with one of the top rushing offenses in the nation with 281.2 yards per game (10th), Toledo has one of the top individual rushers in senior RB David Fluellen, who ranked fifth nationally with 141 yards per game.
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