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Special Treatment for a Special Kick

Hitting what turns out to be a game-winning field goal is a big deal for a place kicker on most football teams. At Navy, it can bring special perks.

After Geoff Blumenfeld nailed a 30-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Navy a 24-21 win over Air Force in 2004, he was served breakfast in bed by a Midshipmen in full dress uniform. When Joey Bullen did something similar a year later — converting a 46-yard field with four-tenths of a second remaining in a 27-24 win over the Falcons — he received a signed picture from the Secretary of the Navy. Kicking a game-winning field goal against Duke in 2007 earned Bullen an extra 20 minutes of sleep every day for a week from his company officer.

So what did junior Joe Buckley get after making three field goals, including a 38-yarder in overtime that provided the winning margin in Navy's 16-13 win over Air Force? For one, he gained the gratitude of his classmates; one of the biggest cheers after the game came when it was announced inside the stadium that all Midshipmen — including restrictees — would receive overnight liberty.

On Sunday, "my company had a barbecue for evening meal, and it was nice because I saw all my classmates and everyone was so happy. It was awesome to talk to them about it and relive it again," Buckley said. "At inspection [on Monday], I had a button missing but my squad leader just overlooked it. That was kind of nice. But other than that, I've tried to be low-key and tried to play it off. We have a big game this weekend."

Buckley's clutch performance — he also converted kicks of 37 and 47 yards — won him the kicking job for the rest of the season. He knows that he needs to continue to work hard and remain consistent.

"It definitely gives me a lot more confidence," Buckley said. "Coming out here to practice, it was more like: 'All right, I've done this before. I've made kicks from distance.' So a short kick or wherever doesn't seem as daunting a task."

By Camille Powell  |  October 6, 2009; 10:40 AM ET
 
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