ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Central Michigan nearly pulled off its second straight fourth quarter comeback before falling at Navy, 38-37, on Saturday.
Trailing 38-24 midway through the final quarter, quarterback Ryan Radcliff engineered a pair of late scoring drives that gave the Chippewas an opportunity at a 2-point conversion to win the game with just 4 seconds left. Radcliff's final throw of the night, however, intended for Kito Poblah on the 2-point play, fell incomplete.
Navy's Joe Buckley kicked a 35-yard field goal with 7:27 remaining gave the Midshipmen (7-3) a 38-24 lead. CMU responded with a 10-play, 72-yard drive that Zurlon Tipton capped with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining. Radcliff connected with Poblah for 19 yards on third-and-6 and Cody Wilson for 14 yards on fourth-and 1 to keep the drive alive.
CMU's defense then forced Navy to punt for the first time, and the Chippewas took over on their own 20-yard line with 1:04 remaining and no timeouts. After an incompletion on first down, Radcliff completed three consecutive throws to move the ball to the Navy 15-yard line. CMU was facing fourth-and-2 from the Navy 7 when Wilson hauled in a deflected pass in the end zone to draw CMU within 38-37 with 4 seconds remaining. CMU attempted the 2-point conversion, but Radcliff's pass went through the back of the end zone and fell incomplete.
Radcliff posted one of the top passing games in CMU history, finishing 36-of-58 for 394 yards and three touchdowns. His completions and attempts are the second most in school history, while his 394 passing yards rank sixth in school history.
After Navy fumbled and CMU missed a field goal to open the game, the teams combined to score touchdowns on six consecutive possessions.
Navy scored on an 18-yard run by Aaron Santiago and runs of 16 yards and 3 yards by Alexander Teich. CMU answered each score with touchdowns of its own, as Radcliff threw a pair of touchdown passes to David Blackburn and Tipton scored on a 3-yard run.
The CMU defense stopped Navy on downs with 4:03 left in the half, and David Harman's 41-yard field goal sent the Chippewas into the locker room with a 24-21 lead.
CMU turned the ball over on downs to open the second half, and Navy countered with a 4-yard touchdown run by Kriss Proctor.
CMU punted on its next possession, and John Howell scored on a 6-yard to extend Navy's lead to 35-24. A 48-yard run by Procter set up the touchdown.
Buckley field goal midway through the fourth quarter stretched the Navy lead to 38-24 and set up the dramatic finish.
Radcliff's favorite target was Wilson, who caught 13 passes for 126 yards and a score. His 13 receptions set a career high and matched the third highest single game total in school history. He was one of nine Chippewas to catch a pass.
Proctor completed just 2-of-5 passes for 33 yards for Navy, but he ran for 201 yards on 20 carries. The Midshipmen finished with 437 rushing yards.
CMU held an edge in total yards, 495-470, and time of possession, 34:57-25:03.
The Chippewas close the 2010 season at Toledo on Friday, Nov. 26