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College Football Capsules: Manziel is first freshman to win Heisman Trophy

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Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 10:15 pm | Updated: 8:07 pm, Fri Jan 4, 2013.

NEW YORK (AP) — He's Johnny Best in Football now — and a freshman, at that.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first newcomer to win the Heisman Trophy, taking college football's top individual prize Saturday night after a record-breaking debut.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o finished a distant second in the voting and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was third. In a Heisman race with two nontraditional candidates, Manziel broke through the class ceiling and kept Te'o from becoming the first purely defensive player to win the award.

"That barrier's broken now," Manziel said. "It's starting to become more of a trend that freshmen are coming in early and that they are ready to play. And they are really just taking the world by storm."

None more than the guy they call Johnny Football.

Manziel drew 474 first-place votes and 2,029 points from the panel of media members and former winners. Te'o had 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points and Klein received 60 firsts and 894 points.

"I have been dreaming about this since I was a kid, running around the backyard pretending I was Doug Flutie, throwing Hail Marys to my dad," he said after hugging his parents and kid sister.

Flutie was one of many Heisman winners standing behind Manziel as he gave his speech on stage at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

"I always wanted to be in a fraternity," Manziel said later. "Now I get to be in the most prestigious one in the entire world."

Manziel was so nervous waiting for the winner to be announced, he wondered if the television cameras could see his heart pounding beneath his navy blue pinstripe suit. But he seemed incredibly calm after, hardly resembling the guy who dashes around the football field on Saturday. He simply bowed his head, and later gave the trophy a quick kiss.

"It's such an honor to represent Texas A&M, and my teammates here tonight. I wish they could be on the stage with me," he said with a wide smile, concluding his speech like any good Aggie: "Gig' em."

Just a few days after turning 20, Manziel proved times have truly changed in college football, and that experience can be really overrated.

For years, seniors dominated the award named after John Heisman, the pioneering Georgia Tech coach from the early 1900s. In the 1980s, juniors started becoming common winners. Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win it in 2007, and two more won it in the next two seasons.

Adrian Peterson had come closest as a freshman, finishing second to Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart in 2004. But it took 78 years for a newbie to take home the big bronze statue.

"It doesn't matter anymore," he said.

Peterson was a true freshman for Oklahoma. As a redshirt freshmen, Manziel attended school and practiced with the team last year, but did not play in any games.

He's the second player from Texas A&M to win the Heisman, joining John David Crow from 1957, and did so without the slightest hint of preseason hype. Manziel didn't even win the starting job until two weeks before the season.

Who needs hype when you can fill-up a highlight reel the way Manziel can?

With daring runs and elusive improvisation, Manziel broke 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton's Southeastern Conference record with 4,600 total yards, led the Aggies to a 10-2 in their first season in the SEC and orchestrated an upset at then-No. 1 Alabama in November that stamped him as legit.

He has thrown for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and run for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores to become the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.

"You can put his numbers up against anybody who has ever played the game," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.

Manziel has one more game this season, when the No. 10 Aggies play Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.

As for the Heisman, Manziel said he'd like to keep it right next to his bed.

"But I'm in college. A lot of people come through the house. We live in a college neighborhood. It might not be a good idea. If I can get a case that's indestructible, locked and looks pretty good, we'll see where I keep it," he said.

The resume alone fails to capture the Johnny Football phenomena. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Manziel is master of the unexpected, darting here and there, turning plays seemingly doomed to failure into touchdowns.

Take, for example, what he did in the first quarter against the Crimson Tide. Manziel took a shotgun snap, stepped up in the pocket as if he was about to take off on another made scramble and ran into the back a lineman. On impact, Manziel bobbled the ball, caught it with his back to the line of scrimmage, turned, rolled the opposite direction and fired a touchdown pass — throwing across his body — to a wide-open receiver.

He might as well have been back in Kerrville, Texas, where he became a hill country star in high school.

His road to college stardom was anything but a clear path.

Manziel competed with two other quarterbacks to replace Ryan Tannehill as the starter this season, the Aggies' first in the SEC and first under Sumlin.

Manziel came out of spring practice as the backup, but became the starter in August.

Still, nobody was hailing him is the next big thing. Did Sumlin think he had a Heisman winner on his hands?

"No," he said emphatically, adding, "Not this year."

Then Manziel started playing and the numbers started piling up.

He also had some struggles against Florida in the season opener and in a home loss to LSU. The question was: Could he do his thing against a top-notch opponent?

The answer came in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 10. Going into the matchup against the Crimson Tide, Manziel said he and his teammates heard a lot of doubters.

"You can't do this and you can't do that," he recalled Saturday at the podium

Manziel passed for 253 yards, ran for 92 and the Aggies beat the Tide 29-24. Klein had been the front-runner for most of the season, but Manziel surged after beating 'Bama.

Still, Manziel was still something of a mystery man. Sumlin's rules prohibit freshmen from being available to the media. Manziel was off-limits, but not exactly silent.

Manziel gave glimpses of himself on social media — including some memorable pictures of him dressed up as Scooby-Doo for Halloween with some scantily clad young women.

Before he became a celebrity, Manziel got himself into some serious trouble. In June, he was arrested in College Station after police said he was involved in a fight and produced a fake ID. He was charged with disorderly conduct and two other misdemeanors.

After the season, Texas A&M took the reins off Manziel and made him available for interviews, allowing him to tell his own tale.

Though in the end, his play said it all.

State Games

Winston-Salem State tops West Texas A&M

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Kameron Smith accounted for three touchdowns and Maurice Lewis ran for two scores as Winston-Salem State beat West Texas A&M 41-18 Saturday in the Division II national semifinals.

Smith threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns — both 21-yarders to Jameze Massey and Jamal Williams — and tacked on a 23-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter for the Rams (14-0), who advanced to the national championship game for the first time after losing in last year's semifinal.

"We did not want a repeat of last year," said Lewis, who ran for 118 yards, including scoring runs of 9 and 11 yards. "(West Texas A&M) didn't respect our running game, so we had to prove them wrong. Y'all saw what happened."

The Rams will now face Valdosta State for the Division II championship next Saturday in Florence, Ala. The Blazers, who won the national title in 2004 and 2007, beat previously undefeated Minnesota State-Mankato 34-19 earlier Saturday.

"The whole team played well," said Winston-Salem running back Bryce Sherman, who added 73 rushing yards, including a 32-yard scoring run in the first quarter. "The offensive line was great. They didn't think we could run the ball on them, so we tried to set the tone by running the ball."

The Rams finished with 511 yards total offense, including 262 yards rushing, and 29 first downs against West Texas A&M, which came into Saturday's game having held opponents to 338 yards and 20.7 points per game.

West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan, who threw for more than 4,500 yards and 44 touchdowns this season, was held to 169 yards and a score, a 13-yarder to Trevor Hammargren in the first quarter that gave the Buffs (12-3) the early lead.

However, Winston-Salem State's defense kept the pressure on Vaughan throughout Saturday's game, sacking him four times (three coming in the first half) and forcing a pair of first-half interceptions.

"They were flying around," said Vaughan, a finalist for the Division II national player of the year award. "Their big guys up front were doing a good job of collapsing the pocket. The pressure was what we were used to, but some dumb mistakes on my part and not executing like we could really hurt us."

Khiry Robinson had 137 rushing yards and a touchdown — a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter — and Sergio Castillo added a 29-yard field goal for the West Texas A&M.

But the Buffs — who won three consecutive road playoff games to advance to the Division II semifinals for the first time — also hurt themselves repeatedly with mistakes, including 13 penalties for 119 yards.

"(Winston-Salem State) played very sound and executed very well," West Texas A&M head coach Don Carthel said. "But we didn't play as well as we have in the last three weeks. We were lights out those first three weeks, but we didn't play good football today."

Mount Union beats Mary Hardin-Baylor

ALLIANCE, Ohio (AP) — Jake Simon scored a touchdown from 12 yards out with five seconds left to play as Mount Union rallied past Mary Hardin-Baylor 48-35 on Saturday — earning an eighth consecutive trip to the Division III championship game.

Mary Hardin-Baylor attempted to tie the game on the final play, but fumbled while trying numerous, desperation-lateral attempts. Mount Union's Matt Fechko recovered the fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to create the final margin.

The Purple Raiders (14-0), who overcame five turnovers, will play St. Thomas (Minn.) in the championship on Friday in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. They are seeking an 11th national title, first since 2008. Mount Union lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater in each of the last three years.

Mary Hardin-Baylor falls to 13-1.

Coaching

Cincinnati hires Tuberville as football coach

CINCINNATI (AP) — Tommy Tuberville wasn't expecting a call from an old acquaintance. A few hours later, he was headed north for a new job.

Tuberville left Texas Tech to become Cincinnati's football coach Saturday, moving away from a Big 12 school to one that has an uncertain future with conference realignment. He left the Red Raiders after three years to coach at a school where his recent predecessors have lasted no longer.

Two hours after Cincinnati's 11th-ranked basketball team won its ninth game of the season, the Bearcats hauled out their Big East trophies and held a pep rally — complete with cheerleaders, band and several hundred fans — for the new coach at midcourt.

"There's always a next step," Tuberville said. "I'm going to get the question: Why did you come to Cincinnati? That's exactly it."

His quick hiring ended a whirlwind week in Cincinnati, which had won a share of its fourth Big East title in the past five years a week earlier. Coach Butch Jones interviewed at Purdue and Colorado before accepting the job at Tennessee on Friday morning.

Athletics director Whit Babcock had Tuberville — whom he worked with for three years at Auburn — at the top of his list of candidates. Working on two hours of sleep, Babcock called Tuberville on Saturday morning to see if he was interested.

"I was perfectly satisfied," Tuberville said. "I had a great home in Lubbock, Texas. The people of west Texas are great people, they love football. Our football team played hard. ... But there was something when Whit called that I thought, 'You know? Let me think about this.'"

Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt was stunned when Tuberville called to tell him he was leaving.

"The first indication I got was at 10:32 this morning when he called me," Hocutt said. "Tommy and I have talked a number of times since the conclusion of the Baylor game this year, and as recently as yesterday he looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment and dedication to Texas Tech football and leading this program forward."

Both teams are headed to bowl games with their coaching staffs in flux.

The Bearcats (9-3) held their first practice on Saturday for the Belk Bowl against Duke. Players heard the news while eating lunch after practice.

"We had a real smooth practice," senior quarterback Brendon Kay said. "We knocked the rust off from not practicing for a week. After practice, I was in the locker room and then eating lunch, it came on (television). We said, 'Wow, this is real.'"

Tuberville won't coach the Bearcats in their bowl, leaving it up to the staff.

Tuberville went 20-17 in three seasons at Texas Tech, after coaching at Mississippi and Auburn. The Red Raiders (7-5) will play Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after missing out on a bowl last season.

By hiring the 58-year-old Tuberville, Cincinnati broke with its recent practice of attracting up-and-coming coaches from smaller conferences. The last three coaches left after three years each — Mark Dantonio came from Ohio State and left for Michigan State; Brian Kelly came from Central Michigan and went to Notre Dame; Jones succeeded Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Like Kelly and Jones, Tuberville likes a wide-open offense. The Red Raiders ranked second nationally with 361.9 yards passing this season.

His final season at Texas Tech was marred by a sideline outburst. Tuberville lost his temper with graduate assistant Kevin Oliver during a 41-34 win over Kansas.

Tuberville appeared to strike Oliver after the Red Raiders had trouble getting the right players on the field. Tuberville said he grabbed Oliver's headset, but wished he'd handled the situation better.

The Bearcats hope his hiring allows them to end their streak of losing football coaches every few years. He agreed to the framework of a five-year deal, with details still to be worked out.

The university has been disappointed by the Big East's massive exodus and lobbied to get into the Atlantic Coast Conference. Instead, rival Louisville got accepted by the ACC, leaving Cincinnati hoping it could make the move in a few more years.

Tuberville wasn't put off by the conference uncertainty, saying he wants to get the program to the point that "anybody would be proud to have Cincinnati in whatever conference is out there.

"But we're excited about where we at right now. Things will change and they're going to change every day for the next few years, and everybody knows where it's headed."

There's also a lot of work to do on the athletic facilities.

During Jones' tenure, Cincinnati expanded its football facility, adding a practice field with a protective bubble for bad weather. The school is trying to figure out how to upgrade 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium, which is the second-oldest playing site in the nation for a college team behind Penn's Franklin Field. Nippert has been in use since 1901.

Despite their Big East success, the Bearcats have played in front of disappointing crowds at Nippert. They drew only 21,171 fans on senior night — their smallest crowd of the season — for a 27-10 win over South Florida this year.

-- Joe Kay

Vols' Jones confident he can thrive in SEC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When his lack of Southeastern Conference experience came up at his introductory news conference Friday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones wasted no time responding.

"I'll be the first to tell you that Nick Saban and Les Miles had zero experience when they came into the league," Jones said.

Jones' chances of approaching their success will depend on how well he adapts to the conference that has won the last six national championships.

During his last two stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Jones went 50-27 and won at least a share of four conference titles in six seasons. The SEC offers a much tougher test than the Mid-American Conference or Big East.

Jones relishes the opportunity.

"If you want to be best, you want to compete in the best," Jones said. "Obviously the SEC is the best football conference in the country. I have many good friends that compete at this level - on the center stage - and I look forward to it."

Lately, Tennessee hasn't been competitive at this level.

The Volunteers have gone 1-7 in SEC play each of the last two seasons. Jones is replacing Derek Dooley, who was fired after losing 14 of his last 15 conference games.

That makes this a new type of challenge for Jones, who inherited winning teams from Brian Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Now he must rebuild a Tennessee program that has produced three straight losing seasons.

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said at the start of the search he wanted someone familiar with the challenges of the SEC. Although Jones hasn't worked in the SEC before, Hart believes the coach understands the league well enough to succeed.

"I do think it's important — particularly in this league and we talked about this at great length — to understand this league and to understand the competitive nature of this league," Hart said. "Butch talked about how good the Southeastern Conference is at the line of scrimmage. He talked a lot about that. He has an excellent grasp and an excellent plan on what he wants to do in that regard."

That plan could include adding assistants who have competed in this league and have recruited in SEC territory before.

Jones' contract includes a minimum of $3 million per year to pay his assistants. Jones vowed to put together "the best football staff in the country," though he also noted SEC experience wasn't essential for a coach to recruit effectively in this part of the country.

"Recruiting is a people business, so I want the best teachers and best recruiters no matter where we have to go get them," Jones said. "I do think it's important that we have some coaches that know the lay of the land, but I really think if you're a great recruiter, you can recruit anywhere because it's all relationship based."

Jones wants some staff members with Tennessee roots. He placed a priority on recruiting within his home state, a recent problem for the Vols.

"The first thing you want to do in any situation in recruiting is own your home territory, and Dooley did let that get away from him," said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "It's a combination of a few things. Winning is the first. When Tennessee wins, those kids flock to Knoxville. When you've got a dynamic recruiter (Vanderbilt's James Franklin) across the state and Vanderbilt's the better program in state, you're going to end up having those kids either decide to look harder at Vanderbilt or just take off."

The Vols don't have verbal commitments from any of Tennessee's top five 2013 recruits according to Rivals, and four of them have committed elsewhere. Rivals listed 10 four-star prospects from Tennessee in 2012. Only one signed with the Vols.

"We are going to win first and foremost with the great state of Tennessee," Jones said. "We have tremendous high school coaches in this state. We are the state institution and we will own our state. We are going to be at every high school in the state, and our players are going to understand what it is to wear the 'power T.'

"They're going to understand what it is to represent their home institution. I take great pride in that."

Jones also takes pride in his track record. He believes his previous results show he can make Tennessee a contender, even if that resume doesn't include any stops at SEC schools.

The improvement might not happen immediately. Cincinnati went 4-8 in Jones' first season, but the Bearcats have gone 19-6 since. Jones used the term "process" — one of Saban's favorite buzzwords — to describe the project he's taking on at Tennessee.

"It's a process," Jones said. "You have to look at the body of work. It hasn't been just performed at one institution. It's now been formed at two institutions along the way, and I look forward to the third here at Tennessee."

-- Steve Megargee

Taggart leaves Western Kentucky for South Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Willie Taggart is taking over as South Florida's football coach after establishing himself as one of the nation's top young prospects by turning around a losing program at Western Kentucky.

USF scheduled a news conference for Saturday afternoon to introduce the 36-year-old Taggart, who grew up in the Tampa Bay area before heading off to play and later coach at Western Kentucky. He replaces Skip Holtz, who was fired following the worst season in USF's 16-year history.

Taggart led Western Kentucky to a 7-5 record this season. The Hilltoppers, who made defensive coordinator Lance Guidry the interim coach on Saturday, will make their first postseason appearance since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision when they face Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl.

A former assistant at Stanford to Jim Harbaugh, Taggart takes over a program that went 16-21 under Holtz, who dropped nine of 10 games following a 2-0 start this season.

Western Kentucky had lost 20 consecutive games before Taggart returned to his alma mater three seasons ago from Stanford, where he was the running backs coach. He went 2-10 in his first season, then followed with consecutive 7-5 records to expand his resume.

The native of nearby Palmetto played for Harbaugh's father, Jack, at Western Kentucky in the mid-1990's and was part of the coaching staff there when the Hilltoppers won a national Division I-AA title in 2002.

Taggart arrives at USF with a different challenge than Holtz faced. Holtz was lured from East Carolina to replace Jim Leavitt, who was fired for mistreating a player who had accused Leavitt of grabbing him by the throat and slapping him in the face during halftime of a game.

The Bulls were perceived at that point in their development as one of the fastest rising programs in the country, having been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in 2007.

Taggart inherits a team that has been unable to remain competitive in a conference that has also been in decline because of the departure of several members to other leagues. The Bulls have lost 14 of their last 16 games against Big East opponents, and they have finished last in the conference the past two seasons.

USF was 5-16 overall in the Big East under Holtz, who took over a program that Leavitt helped start. Taggart becomes the third head coach in the program's brief history.

The Bulls went 8-5 and appeared in a bowl game for the sixth consecutive year in their first season under Holtz. But there was a pattern of underachieving that began even before he became coach in 2011, when USF won four straight to climb into the Top 25 before dropping seven of eight to finish 5-7.

Taggart, who informed his players of his decision to leave Western Kentucky after practice Friday, played on a state championship team at Bradenton Manatee High School in 1992. His connection to the Harbaugh family began when Jim recruited Taggart to play for his dad in college.

Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart said during a news conference in Bowling Green, Ky., that the Hilltoppers raised "sufficient private funds" to put together a contract offer in October that would have made Taggart the highest-paid coach in the Sun Belt Conference.

"He felt announcing a new contract during the season would be a distraction to the team and wanted to keep the focus on football. We respected that statement and mutually agreed to wait until the end of the regular season to discuss a new contract," Stewart said. "This past week we again extended a term sheet that offered him a contract for him to become the highest paid coach in our conference. We were proactive and thorough in our efforts to retain him."

Hilltoppers defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen said players were preparing to go home from practice when called a team meeting to reveal his plans.

"He came in and told us he got the job at South Florida and that he had to do what was best for him and his family. We completely understand that. He told us to continue to make history and be one of those 35 teams that win a bowl game," Allen said.

"I was shocked and, I really hurt for the young guys because it's probably hard for them to transition," Allen added. "I just know that us group of seniors has been through so much and we know how to handle it. I just know we're going to put our arms around these younger guys and help them get through it."

-- Fred Goodall

WKU names Guidry interim football coach

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Western Kentucky has named defensive coordinator Lance Guidry interim head football coach.

The university made the announcement Saturday, a day after former coach Willie Taggart accepted the South Florida.

Guidry will assume his new duties immediately and will lead the Hilltoppers in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 against Central Michigan.

Guidry has been in this position before. He led Miami (Ohio) to a victory in the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl as the Redhawks' interim head coach.

He has been the Hilltoppers' defensive coordinator for the last two years, helping WKU to a 14-10 record over that stretch. This year's Hilltoppers' defense ranks 23rd nationally, allowing 344 yards per game.

Guidry declined to say if he will apply for the WKU coaching vacancy.

Guice to head panel in search of Dykes replacement

RUSTON, La. (AP) — Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau has assembled a search committee to find a replacement for head football coach Sonny Dykes, who was named the new coach at California this past week.

The university announced Friday that the search committee will be chaired by Les Guice, a Tech vice president who will become president when Reneau retires in June.

Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde also will be a member of the seven-member committee.

Other News

Navy tops Army 17-13, 11th straight win in series

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Navy's decade of dominance over Army was 14 yards away from sinking.

Then the Black Knights botched a handoff with an overdue victory in sight and the Midshipmen pounced on the fumbled ball.

Tight games or blowouts, Navy has made a habit of beating Army. Keenan Reynolds helped Navy top Army for the 11th straight time, scoring the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter in a 17-13 victory in the 113th rivalry game Saturday.

The Midshipmen can hook an anchor to the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and bring it to Annapolis.

"It means everything," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "That's our No. 1 goal, to get the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. I'm just so happy for these guys."

Navy (8-4) and won the CIC trophy awarded to the team with the best record in games among the three service academies. Army and Navy each beat Air Force, putting the prestigious trophy up for grabs in the regular-season finale for the first time since 2005.

Army (2-10) hasn't hoisted the CIC trophy since 1996.

Unlike previous games over the last decade, the Black Knights were in this one until their final 70-yard drive. Army had driven to the 14 when QB Trent Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon fumbled on a sloppy exchange. Navy recovered and the Midshipmen on the sideline went wild and rushed the field.

"We expected to win from the beginning to the end," Army coach Rich Ellerson said.

In front of 69,607 fans and Vice President Joe Biden at Lincoln Financial Field, Navy caught a break when Army missed a late field goal attempt.

Reynolds quickly found Brandon Turner down the sideline for a 49-yard gain. Reynolds, named the game's MVP, then escaped a rush and followed with the 8-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the game.

The CIC trophy was coming back to the Naval Academy for a record 13th time after a two-year stint at Air Force. Before Navy started its 11-game winning streak, the longest one in the series, started in 1890, was only five games for either team.

The Midshipmen gathered at midfield and posed with the trophy while their classmates in the stands celebrated the win.

This one was the toughest victory yet during the streak.

"It's about not letting your brothers down," Turner said. "This is the best I've ever felt after winning a football game."

Late in the third, Army's James Kelly stripped the ball and linebacker Alex Meier recovered to give the Black Knights the ball at Navy's 37. Eric Osteen kicked a 21-yard field goal 10 plays later for a 13-10 lead.

Osteen, however, was wide left on a 37-yard attempt with 6:57 left in the game.

Navy made them pay on Reynolds' score. The Midshipmen now lead the series 57-49-7

"It's hard to do," Niumatalolo said. "It's hard to beat anybody in a rivalry game, but to do it that long just speaks volumes about the guys in the white jerseys."

Navy not only won 10 straight, but pretty much dominated the Black Knights, winning games in 2007 and 2008 by a combined 74-3 score.

Navy's 27-21 win last season was the tightest margin since the winning streak started. Last year was just a start at nudging closer toward ending the winning streak.

After a scoreless first quarter, Army and Navy swapped rushing TDs in the second. Navy fullback Noah Copeland plowed straight up the middle for a 12-yard score. Steelman matched him with an 11-yarder for his program-tying 17th TD run of the season, then saluted the cadets after the score.

Carlton Jones had 17 rushing touchdowns in 2004.

Nick Sloan put Navy up 10-7 with a 31-yard field goal.

Then came the ugly — yet, so sweet — kick for Army that send the game into halftime tied at 10. Navy twice tried to freeze Osteen with consecutive timeouts. They didn't work. There was a high snap, a line drive kick, a glance off the upright and — good! Osteen's 41-yarder as time expired had the cadets rocking the Linc.

The fun wouldn't last and it was just the latest loss for the Black Knights.

"I feel like we deserved that game in every way possible but it just didn't happen," Steelman said. "We were wearing them down and there was nothing that was going to stop us. But that's life."

There's more football left for Navy after Saturday's tradition-filled spectacle. The Midshipmen play Arizona State in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Francisco.

With cadets and midshipmen standing, bouncing and cheering on a gloomy day, it was clear how much the centuries-old rivalry means to both sides.

Biden handed off coin flipping duties to a referee before the game and made the traditional switch from the Navy side to the Army side at halftime. Team highlights were played to "Gonna Fly Now." Billed as "America's Game," the hours before kickoff were highlighted by the Army Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen march onto the field. The cadet glee club performed the national anthem.

Cadets even brought one of those oversized goofy cutouts of Biden's head to show off during the game.

There were reminders all around the Linc, full and with a festive vibe for a rare time this football season, that this was no ordinary game. Forget the kiss cam during timeouts. Purple Hearts and Distinguished Service Cross awards were presented.

Low clouds wiped out the parachute jumps.

The Midshipmen played with "Rafi" stickers on the back of their helmets as a salute to injured third-string quarterback Ralph Montalvo. Montalvo remained in a medically-induced coma after he was critically injured in a car accident near his home last on Thanksgiving night.

Montalvo was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia and dress for the Army-Navy game before the accident. The Naval Academy had shipped his game jersey to his parents and it will be waiting for him.

-- Dan Gelston

Three Oregon State football players arrested in brawl

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Three Oregon State football players spent Saturday behind bars following a brawl at a Corvallis bar.

Corvallis Police Lt. Cord Wood tells the Gazette Times that the players were arrested at about 2:20 a.m. on Saturday. They were identified as: Rudolf Fifita, a senior defensive end; Mana Rosa, a junior defensive tackle; and Dyllon Kalena Mafi, a junior linebacker.

Authorities say Fifita and an unidentified victim got into a heated exchange, when a friend of the victim stepped in and cooled things down. But as the men were leaving, police say Fifita threw a punch, and Mafi and Rosa joined. Police say both victims were punched multiple times. The players fled when a bouncer showed up, and they were arrested nearby.

Out of the three players arrested, Fifita saw the most action this season, playing in all 12 games and compiling 25 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. Rosa also played in 12 games while Mafi saw action in two.

The Beavers will play Texas in the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29. There was no word on the players' status for the bowl game.

Coach Mike Riley was out of town and unavailable for comment, but a spokesman told The Oregonian that Riley would discuss the matter when practice resumes on Monday.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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