Navy beats Pittsburgh on game-winning kick 24-21

One week after missing an extra point in the second overtime

that cost his team, Navy kicker Nick Sloan redeemed himself

Saturday against Pittsburgh.

Sloan booted a 30-yard field-goal as time expired that gave the

Midshipmen a 24-21 victory over the Panthers.

Navy (4-3) snapped a two-game losing streak and needs just two

wins to become eligible for a bowl game.

After Sloan missed the extra point against Toledo last week, the

Rockets scored on their next possession to escape with a 45-44

victory. Sloan said he heard Pitt coaches make comments about that

game when he was near their sideline. Nonetheless, he didn’t feel

any added pressure when he lined up for the game-winning kick.

”It’s every kickers dream to be in this situation,” Sloan

said. ”It’s definitely what separates the good kickers from the

bad kickers. I thought of it as just another kick. That’s all I can

do.”

Navy finally got into a rhythm in the second half and put

together their most impressive drive of the game to take a 14-13

lead with 14:28 left in the game.

Reserve fullback Quinton Singleton’s 9-yard scoring run capped

the 16-play, 91-yard scoring drive that took 8:15 off the clock.

The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter before Sloan

kicked the game-winner.

Tom Savage completed 20 of 27 pass attempts for 203 yards and

two touchdowns for Pitt (4-3).

Pittsburgh’s Devin Street caught nine passes for 96 yards with a

touchdown and became the school’s all-time leading receiver. Street

now has 186 career receptions, surpassing Latef Grim, who had 178

from 1998-2000.

Trailing 14-13 midway through the fourth quarter, Savage threw a

3-yard touchdown pass to freshman Tyler Boyd to give the Panthers a

20-14 lead. Street then caught a short pass for the 2-point

conversion.

Navy responded on the ensuing possession and tied the game on a

10-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 2-yard run by quarterback Keenan

Reynolds with 3:53 left in the game.

The Midshipmen then forced a 3-and-out on the Panthers’ next

possession and got the ball at Pitt’s 49. Navy ran 11 plays to set

up Sloan’s game-winning kick.

”I wish these games weren’t like this, but we’ll take it,”

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ”I’m super-happy for Nick Sloan.

The guy took a beating last week. He’s the guy who took the blame

last week. It wasn’t his fault. We lost as a team and today we won

as a team.”

Pitt opened a 3-0 lead on its first drive on a 25-yard field

goal by Chris Blewitt on a 16-play, 68 yard drive that took 7:32

off the clock. After Don Pearson recovered a fumble by James Conner

to open the second quarter, Navy took the lead on a pass from

Reynolds that deflected off Geoffrey Whiteside and was caught by

senior Marcus Thomas, who ran 58 yards for first career

touchdown.

”Give Navy credit, in a 60-minute game, they found a way to

win,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. ”I thought our guy’s effort

was nothing short of what I expected. Obviously, we did not make

enough plays to win the game.”

Another 44-yard field goal by Blewitt pulled Pitt to within 7-6

with 9:23 left in the half. The Panthers then took a 13-7 lead

eight minutes later on a 12-yard pass from Tom Savage to

Street.

The Panthers completely dominated the first half and held the

edge in total plays (44-22), time of possession (22:07-7:53) and

yardage (252-135).

Navy entered the game ranked sixth in the nation with 304.2

rushing yards per game, and managed 220 against the Panthers.

”I’m extremely proud of Nick,” Navy linebacker Cody Peterson

said. ”After last week, it’s tough for a kicker because you’re in

the limelight with that one play. By no means was it his fault

because there were so many plays in that game. He came back this

week with ice in his veins and made it.”