Pittsburgh — Pittsburgh -- The Navy football team is leaving a lot of people winded, including opposing teams such as Pittsburgh, which couldn't find a way to beat the smaller, slower and less-than-perfect Midshipmen on Wednesday night.
Navy again found a way to win when all signs said it shouldn't. The Mids won in overtime for the first time - in double overtime - beating Pitt, 48-45, just before the clock struck midnight. It was another wild win, and in its way, an impressive one.
"We were due for a win like this," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "We've been to overtime three times in our history, and we lost one of them by missing a point after touchdown and we lost the other with a fumble that eliminated our chance to even try to win."
So, Wednesday, when the Mids had been held to a 29-yard field goal in the second overtime, it looked as if the end was near, as neither Pitt nor Navy had much success keeping the other team out of the end zone.
Instead of going for the tying field goal on fourth-and-goal or using his oversized offensive line to plow through the middle, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt directed quarterback Pat Bostick to throw to Darrell Strong, his 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior tight end.
Strong was defended on a fade route by Navy's Rashawn King, 6-0, 190, and couldn't make the catch on the high pass.
"I thought they were going to come at me because they'd done it before," King said. "The tight end was a big package. I don't want to take the credit, but it was the coaches who gave us the game plan that put us in position to win."
Wannstedt said after the game: "We felt good about the play. ... If I had the same situation, I would do it again."
King, acknowledging that the Navy defense has yet to play its best, called the victory "huge" and said it could set the tone for the rest of the season. The Mids are 4-2 and two wins from assuring themselves of an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
With the ability they've shown to pull off the dramatic - escaping with a 46-43 victory over Duke and a 31-20 win over Air Force in the previous two games - fans might get excited over the remaining schedule. Some might even go so far as to think this may well be the year Navy beats Notre Dame.
Johnson, of course, doesn't want to talk about that. There are two games before that, starting with Wake Forest on Oct. 20. And everyone from Johnson to King to quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada knows the Mids have plenty of work to do before they can be called a good team.
On field goals, Navy's Joey Bullen, who took the kicking job from Matt Harmon, missed a 35-yarder Wednesday that could have helped secure a victory in regulation.
On tackling, time and again Pitt running backs and receivers broke through Navy's tacklers for big games.
And Kaheaku-Enhada, who had 122 yards rushing, scored one touchdown, threw for two touchdowns and was 9-for-12 passing for 166 yards, wasn't impressed with the offense or himself.
"We can't miss a scoring turn," he said. "We've got to get into the end zone. We've got to get points every time. We can't let the other team have an edge. And I've got to go study more film. I played a horrible game."
But one thing has become apparent: The Mids can't be counted out. They've shown an unrelenting ability to make end-of-game magic. Even Kaheaku-Enhada agrees with that.
"We definitely do what it takes to win," he said.