Navy ended its otherwise disappointing season with a dramatic 17-13 victory over rival Army on Saturday. The Midshipmen leaned on a dominant second-half effort in which they possessed the ball for nearly 22 minutes and held the Black Knights to just 57 yards of offense. But luck played a role in the win as well, thanks to an all-time heads-up play from star linebacker Diego Fagot.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at the Navy 34-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen appeared to deliberately fake a punt by snapping the ball to Fagot, who rumbled 4 yards to his left, stiff-arming one defender and hurdling another while converting a first down to keep the drive alive. That first down would turn out to be a critical moment in a 15-play drive that took nearly nine minutes off of the clock and ended in a field goal to put Navy up 17-13 -- enough to force Army into a touchdown-scoring situation if it wanted to win.
THE FAKE!— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 11, 2021
A big gamble pays off for Navy. pic.twitter.com/JRZMuNm4nM
Except the fake punt wasn't called as a fake. Fagot said after the game that he wasn't expecting the snap, but handled it anyway and let instincts do the rest.
On Navy’s crucial fake punt conversion in the 4th quarter, Diego Fagot had NO CLUE the ball was coming to him 😂 pic.twitter.com/wxbh1rsHlx— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 11, 2021
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo then confirmed the fake punt wasn't called ahead of time, calling the play a "mistake." Call it a mistake or call it luck, the first down proved to be a turning point in the game in Navy's favor. The Midshipmen have now enjoyed two wins over their chief rival in the past three games after losing three straight from 2016 to 2018.
"It was a mistake." - Ken Niumatalolo confirms the fake punt was an accident.— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 11, 2021
Hey, whatever works. https://t.co/bHKjjfyeLj pic.twitter.com/tyiJVOEggU