San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Navy and San Diego State played sloppy football throughout the fourth quarter of the Poinsettia Bowl, but it was a missed field goal that sealed the Midshipmen's victory.
Austin Grebe's 24-yard field goal with 1:27 remaining moved Navy in front, and the Midshipmen survived a missed 34-yard attempt by Donny Hageman with 20 seconds left in Navy's 17-16 triumph.
The teams combined for seven turnovers, including four in the final quarter, but Navy (8-5) overcame four from its side on the night to win a bowl game in back-to-back years for just the second time in school history. Last year, the Midshipmen dealt Middle Tennessee State a 24-6 loss at the Armed Forces Bowl.
Keenan Reynolds had just nine yards rushing, but ran for two scores for the Midshipmen.
"I have no idea how we won the game. Our defense didn't flinch. They played phenomenal," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Donnel Pumphrey had 21 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown for the Aztecs (7-6), but his fumble set up Navy's winning kick. Pumphrey had the ball stripped by Chris Johnson at the Navy 47 with 5:54 left. The Midshipmen then converted a 4th-and-1 at the SDSU 44 when Chris Swain rushed for 13 yards.
A facemask penalty set Navy back, but Ryan Williams-Jenkins rumbled down the right sideline 28 yards to the SDSU 13 to set up the go-ahead kick.
Quinn Kaehler found Eric Judge over the middle for a 32-yard gain. The ball was jarred loose and the play was originally ruled a fumble, which would have given Navy the ball at its 37. The call was overturned after a video review as Judge's back hit the ground with the ball in his possession.
A 16-yard pass to Pumphrey helped to set up Hageman's kick, but the junior, who made his first three attempts, was wide right to seal the outcome.
"Our field goal kicker is really good from any spot once you get inside about the 35-yard line he makes them from anywhere anytime. Honestly we were trying to score a touchdown and we thought if we didn't make the touchdown he would kick the field goal and we would still win, but he didn't kick it quite right," San Diego State coach Rocky Long said.
Williams-Jenkins and Reynolds fumbled on the first two Navy drives of the final quarter, while George Jamison picked off Kaehler for the other turnover of the period.
SDSU faced a 4th-and-5 from the Navy 12, but instead of kicking a field goal, Kaehler's pass to Mikah Holder fell incomplete near the goal line with 8:45 left.
Reynolds came into the game with 1,182 rushing yard on the season, but was bottled up all night. He also completed just 3-of-7 passes for 17 yards. Swain had 72 yards on eight carries.
Kaehler finished 11-of-27 for 141 yards.
Reynolds came into the game off three straight games with at least 100 yards on the ground, but he was limited to minus-five yards on nine carries in the first half.
Kaehler was picked off to set up the Midshipmen at the Aztecs 42 less than three minutes into the game. Reynolds cut inside and scored on a 1-yard run midway through the opening quarter. Navy converted a 4th-and-3 from the SDSU 35 on a 10-yard run from Geoffrey Whiteside.
Pumphrey tied the game two minutes later on a 5-yard rush, and the Aztecs turned a Reynolds fumble into a 43-yard field goal from Hageman. A 37-yard kick extended the margin to 13-7 with 6:34 left in the half.
Navy pushed ahead 14-13 with 8:28 left in the third thanks to a 6-yard TD run from Reynolds up the middle after he faked a handoff. That finished a 92-yard march with rushes on every down of the 13-play drive.
DeBrandon Sanders fumbled when calling for a fair catch to set up the Aztecs at the Navy 18. It resulted in a 30-yard field goal from Hageman with 4:16 left in the third.
Pumphrey (1,867) surpassed George Jones' (1,842) 1995 mark as the highest single-season rushing total in SDSU history ... The other time Navy won back- to-back bowl games was when the Midshipmen topped New Mexico, 34-19, in the 2004 Emerald Bowl and defeated Colorado State, 51-30, in the 2005 Poinsettia Bowl. Long was the head coach of that 2004 Emerald Bowl New Mexico team ... The Aztecs had won eight straight games against Service Academy foes ... San Diego State had its eight-game home field winning streak broken.