2004 is a year that Navy fans won’t forget anytime soon. The team went 10-2, proved that Navy football was here to stay by repeating as CIC Trophy winners, and finished ranked #24 in both polls. The campaign was capped off with a convincing 34-19 win over a solid New Mexico team at the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. It was a great game in a great city to wrap up a great season. The win was clinched when the Mids ate up almost the entire 4th quarter with a scoring drive that would last for an NCAA-record 14 minutes and 26 seconds, ending with a Geoff Blumenfeld field goal. Navy fans still talk about “The Drive” as the perfect example of just how soul-crushing this offense can be. What we don’t talk about nearly as much is the play that made that drive possible.
New Mexico had put together a drive of their own and faced 4th and goal from the Navy 1. Kicking a field goal when you’re down by 12 still leaves you needing two scores, so Lobos head coach Rocky Long didn’t hesitate to go for it. Running back D. D. Cox took a handoff and ran to the right, only to be met by a gaggle of Navy’s defensive stars. Cornerback (and game defensive MVP) Vaughn Kelley took him high. Linebacker Bobby McLarin grabbed his legs. Josh Smith came running in all the way from the other side of the formation to get to the ball, and Jeremy McGown stepped up from his free safety position. The referee was knocked to the ground, but when he stood up, he spotted the ball one foot short of the goal line. Navy had held, thanks to the collective effort of some of the season’s most celebrated players. But those guys weren’t alone. Cox was strung out to the sideline, unable to make a cut upfield towards the end zone. And that was thanks to the awesomeness of Jason Monts.
Monts wasn’t the most heralded player on the team, and you won’t find his play reflected on the stat sheet. If there was a stat for being badass, though, this definitely would qualify. When Cox took the handoff, all 6’7″ and 340 pounds of New Mexico tackle Terrance Pennington pulled around the tight end to clear a path to the end zone. Monts met him head on. And despite giving up 6 inches and 120 pounds to the future draft pick, it was Monts that got leverage and moved Pennington backwards. With his lead blocker being pushed back into him, Cox was forced to bounce outside and run toward the sideline, never getting the chance to turn the corner.
We have here a relatively unknown player, refusing to fail, making a play through sheer determination that he probably shouldn’t have been able to make. It wasn’t the most glorious of jobs, but it was his job nevertheless, and he did his part to lead his team to victory. In one play, Jason Monts embodied everything we love about Navy football. And that’s why he gets the nod for the Hall of Awesome.
THIS BLOG NEEDS SOME MORE WANT-TO.