Poinsettia Bowl: Awful and Exciting or Just Awful

Posted by on December 24th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

“I’ll take ugly”.
That’s what the guy sitting behind me in the end zone seats was yelling with (:07) left in the Poinsettia Bowl game last night.
It was ugly, this Navy win over San Diego State.  The nation wide television audience sat thru turnovers, flagrant penalties, missed kicks, and weird play-calling.  
When it was done, Navy made a field goal late, and San Diego State missed a field goal at the end, and Middies had a (17-16) win over a disappointed State team.
It was a strange game.  Navy could not run its option package with record setting QB-Keenan Reynolds seemingly paralyzed by the sideline to sideline speed San Diego State presented.
It was only after they went fullback heavy in play calls, that Navy climbed back into the game, and yet Coach Ken Nuimatalolo only went big back package for just two series.  They kept trying to get the edge only to be chased down by the SDSU linebackers.
Rocky Long and Bob Toledo matched the Navy coaches mistakes, especially on the final drive, deep in Navy territory, trying to run 3-sweeps wide for little yardage, leaving kicker Donny Hageman to try a game winning field goal from a far side hash mark at an acute angle.  He missed.
Reynolds, coming off a brilliant option run-pass season, got nothing done for Navy at quarterback.  The Aztecs Quinn Kaehler was even worse, just (11-27), missing receivers, throwing interceptions and just not being able to make any plays consistently.
Running back Donnel Pumphrey blew past SDSU record setters Marshall Faulk and George Jones, finishing with 112-yards rushing, giving him a season long record total of 1,817, amazing considering he was a marked man all year with an offense that showed no consistency throwing the ball.
For a bowl game, it was sloppy.  7-turnovers; fumbled punts, dropped balls, flagrant penalties, leaky kick return coverage, and the missed field goal from a kid who made great kicks all year long.
San Diego State puts away the helmet today with a (7-6) record, with all six losses coming against the only quality teams they played.  Navy goes back to Annapolis at (8-5), having won 6-of its last 7-games.
As games goes, it was not a work of art, more like a smudged finger painting.  Maybe we are spoiled by seeing the greatness every week of NFL talent on the field, and think the guys wearing Red & Black, or Navy & Gold, should play like that every down.
It was classy at the end, as both the Aztecs and Middies went to the corner end zone of the stadium to salute the Midshipmen and its band, with the Navy Alma Mater.  It was fun to watch.  It was great to see the fans salute the Navy band too.  And behind the Middies bench, 3-goals, wearing Navy blankets paraded up and down all night long, a long standing tradition of Navy football going back to the 1950’s.
It was fun to hear Navy grads argue who was better, Roger Staubach back then, or Keenan Reynolds today. 
It was color and pageantry and hard play. It was a loud crowd of over 33,000. It just wasn’t a good game.
As the Navy man-fan walked up the steps from his seat at the Q-he felt good, as he said again ‘I’ll take ugly”.  It was.
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