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A perfect way for Navy's Sloan to start the year

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Kicker has yet to miss a field goal this season

Trailing Indiana by nine points with less than six minutes left and facing 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo had a decision on Saturday -- kick a field goal or go for a touchdown.

Helping him make the choice was his faith in kicker Nick Sloan. The freshman promptly drilled the kick and later followed with the game-winning extra point in the 31-30 victory.

Up next
Navy at East Carolina
When » Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where » Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, S.C.
TV » Fox College Sports

After a frustrating 5-7 season, full of losses in close games and uncharacteristic miscues in the kicking game, Navy (4-3) has returned to its precise ways and the credit goes to Sloan, who has been a perfect 7-for-7 on field goal attempts and 17-for-17 on point-after tries.

"It's been huge," Niumatalolo said. "If I didn't have confidence in him [on Saturday] I probably would have gone for it and tried to score that touchdown."

Sloan got little attention as a baseball pitcher and kicker at Scripps Ranch High in San Diego. One of the schools he visited was Air Force, but Sloan opted for Navy. In the Mids' 28-21 overtime victory over the Falcons in Colorado Springs early this month, Sloan was the difference. While he made field goals of 41 and 39 yards, Falcons standout Parker Herrington missed his tries from 51 and 27 yards.

"I am a little surprised," Sloan said of his flawless start. "All I do is try to keep working during the week. Everything has kind of come [together]. Everything has played out smooth -- knock on wood."

After a year at the Naval Academy Prep School, Sloan was part of a five-man kicking competition in the preseason. None of the candidates emerged for weeks, until Niumatalolo decided he had to settle on one.

"He came from behind. We weren't really thinking about him. He was just constantly climbing up the ladder," Niumatalolo said. "We were getting close to our first game and [decided] we had to make a choice, we gotta make a decision. He kicked the best that day. He's our kicker."

With the prophetic selection of Sloan, Niumatalolo might have found Navy's kicker for the next four years.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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