December 21, 2007

There's No Quit in Navy

SAN DIEGO - There was a time when Air Force ruled the roost among service academy football programs. In fact, it was earlier this decade. That was before Paul Johnson came to Annapolis and turned Navy into a premiere non-BCS conference program. Johnson may not have been on the sideline Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium, but the players that won 17 games the last two seasons, dominated the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and beat Notre Dame were. And they fought until the bitter end.

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Johnson a Gem in Poinsettia Bowl Win

SAN DIEGO - Brian Johnson has had expectations to deal with throughout his tenure at Utah. He took the quarterback reins from Alex Smith, a No. 1 NFL Draft pick and leader of the unbeaten 2004 Utes. In his first season, Johnson posted more total yardage than Vince Young, Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush. So in '06, Johnson entered with enormous hype, which was deflated by injury. The Johnson of '07 never quite reached the level Johnson '05 attained -- until tonight.

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December 20, 2007

Gutsy Play Calling Critical for Utes

SAN DIEGO - Kyle Whittingham lived the adage "save the best for last" in the third quarter. With literally no tomorrow, the Utes pulled out all the stops on a critical scoring drive. First a Darrell Mack four-yard rush on fourth down deep in Navy territory kept Utah's clock-eating drive alive. On the very next play, Jereme Brooks took the pitch for a 23-yard score on an end-around.

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Navy Leads, But Edge Could Be Utah's

SAN DIEGO - Surely Navy and interim head coach Ken Niumatalolo is happy to lead Utah at halftime of the Poinsettia Bowl, but a 10-7 score plays into Utah's hands. The Utes are on pace to hold one of the nation's most prolific offenses to nearly half its season average, and though Utah has only seven points to show for it, the offense has sat on the ball nearly 17 of the first 30 minutes.

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Utah Breakthrough

SAN DIEGO - It took over 100 minutes, but finally an opposing offense found paydirt against a suddently stingy Navy defense. Utah broke the scoreless tie with a clock-consuming, rush-heavy drive that culminated in a Darrell Mack two-yard scoring jaunt on third down.

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Poinsettia Bowl First Quarter

SAN DIEGO - Uncharacteristic mistakes were the story of a scoreless first quarter. Navy started off with a bang when Reggie Campbell returned the kickoff 39 yards, which was the first of a specatular play bookend. The Midshipmen also ended the quarter in style with Campbell rushing for 44 yards. That Mids' opening drive stalled out about where it started, however.

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Poinsettia Bowl Kick-Off

SAN DIEGO - An offensive juggernaut and one of the top 40 defenses in the nation: Navy and Utah could not be any more different on the stat sheet, but tonight each has the same goal -- win the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl.

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