There were no victories for the service academies last week in football, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some standout performances to go with the overtime heartbreaks for both Army and Navy and the incredible comeback attempt by Air Force.
Let’s take a look at who stood out and crown some CIC MVPs for the week!
The Black Knights gave the Oklahoma Sooners all they could handle and then some, in a good old-fashioned triple option, possession limiting, time consuming, barnburner. Army held the ball for nearly three quarters and played a nearly flawless game, pushing Boomer Sooner to the brink before a couple of Kelvin Hopkins interceptions near the end of regulation and in overtime allowed OU to escape with a 28-21 victory in Norman.
Offense: Kell Walker, RB
Kell Walker made big play after big play as Army had Oklahoma on the ropes. He busted a 23 yard run on the very first drive that really sparked the Black Knights offense and followed that up by picking up what would be the first of four fourth down conversions later in the drive. He followed that up by picking up two first downs on the next drive and picking up big gain after big gain through the evening, finishing with 6.7 yards/carry for 80 yards rushing and hauling in all of the receiving targets for the Black Knights for an additional 40 yards.
Defense: James Nachtigal, LB
It seemed like the Sooners were just going to score on every single possession in the game until Nachtigal was “shot out of a cannon” for a huge sack of quarterback Kyler Murray late in the second quarter. It was just the stop the defense needed to keep the offense in the game, and with only seven total drives, it was critical to the near upset.
Nachtigal would finish with five tackles to go with the sack and is my choice for defensive player of the week for Army.
Special Teams: Zach Potter, P
There wasn’t hardly any special teams action in this game. No kick returns or punt returns, only 3 PATs, and 2 punts in the entire game for Army. Potter’s punt pinned Oklahoma at the four yard line and setup the Nachtigal sack and three and out leading into halftime to keep it a one score game.
The Falcons did everything they could to mount a furious comeback against the Utah State Aggies after falling behind 35-14 but it was too much to overcome in the end as they fell 42-32. A touchdown and successful two point conversion followed by a strip of the football on the ensuing Aggie kickoff by Chris Musselman and return for a TD got Air Force within 3 at 35-32 with 13:00 to go in the fourth quarter but that’s as close as they would come to closing the gap.
Offense: Kadin Remsberg, RB
The offense was inconsistent for most of the night as the Falcons switched back and forth between Isaiah Sanders and Arion Worthman at quarterback, but Kadin Remsberg had a great game, rushing for 94 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown to pace the Air Force running game.
Defense: Lakota Wills, LB
This was a tough one as Jeremy Fejedelem racked up 14 tackles during the game, but that was largely a product of how successful the Aggies were in the passing game. Lakota Wills continued to his impressive start to the season, with seven tackles and a huge strip sack of Aggies quarterback Jordan Love that kept the game tied at 14 late in the first half.
Special Teams: Chris Musselman, LB
Musselman had the play of the game for the Falcons, forcing a Savon Scarver fumble on a kickoff in the fourth quarter and then returning it to the house for a touchdown that brought Air Force within three points of tying the game.
It was a heartbreaking day for Navy as well, as they fell to SMU for the first time since 1998, losing in overtime when the Mustangs completed a two point conversion to pull out the victory 31-30. Navy’s offense was inconsistent again, as Malcolm Perry, Zach Abey, and Garret Lewis each had their moments at times and struggled at others. Perry and Abey went down with injuries in the second half, forcing Lewis to finish the second half. He did everything he could to keep Navy in the game, leading touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and overtime to give Navy the lead, but ultimately, SMU was able to rally and secure the victory.
Offense: CJ Williams, RB
I know that CJ Williams missed an assignment resulting in a critical chop block early in the game, but he has proven himself electric this year, and he broke off several big runs, none bigger than the 52 yard touchdown run that got the game to overtime. He finished the game with 6 carries for 82 yards and the TD.
Defense: Taylor Heflin, LB
There were several Navy defenders who had great games including Jackson Pittman, Sean Williams, and Jarvis Polu, but the biggest performance of the day came from Heflin. He was all over the field, showing up time and time again with big stops. He finished with 12 tackles , 1.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Special Teams: Jarid Ryan, DB
Navy had a rough day on special teams, giving up 190 yards of returns and a touchdown. Jarid Ryan had a huge play early in the fourth quarter however, as he returned a blocked PAT by SMU all the way back for two points to pull Navy within 7. If it wasn’t for that play, there would have been no overtime, and Navy would have likely lost in regulation.
Alright, there’s our performers of the week for each school, but we can only select one to be our offense, defense, and special teams CIC MVPs of the week. Here’s who I picked. Be sure to vote on Twitter to let us know who you think is the overall CIC MVP of the week and of course to let me know how wrong I was in my selections!