NAVY VS. MARINE

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - / Bruce Tins­ley

Col­lege foot­ball fans haven’t for­got­ten one of the 1993 sea­son’s more mem­o­rable games, when Army beat Navy by 18 inches. Yes, as in just over a foot.

Of all un­likely mid­ship­men, Navy placekicker Ryan Buc­chi­aneri was crit­i­cal to the Army win, as Sports Il­lus­trated re­called af­ter the game:

“In all the years he had played and re­played this mo­ment in his mind — from spring and sum­mer nights to rest­less au­tumn af­ter­noons, from his Penn­syl­va­nia boy­hood to his first months at the U.S. Naval Academy — Ryan Buc­chi­aneri had al­ways made the kick, the one he had to nail to beat Army. Not once, in all his youth­ful rev­er­ies, had he ever missed. Ever hooked it left, floated it right. Ever failed. Ever imag­ined any­thing but the kick that sailed end over end through the up­rights, the boot that lifted the Mid­dies over the Cadets and raised the boy onto the swarm­ing shoul­ders of his team­mates.”

In­deed, Mr. Buc­chi­aneri told the mag­a­zine: “Lit­er­ally thou­sands of times I’d been in that sit­u­a­tion in my dreams and made the kick against Army. I al­ways made it. I had been visu­al­iz­ing it for years. For years!”

As fate would have it, at age 18 and six months out of high school, at Giants Sta­dium in New Jer­sey “at al­most ten past three on the af­ter­noon of Dec. 4, 1993, and for Ryan Joseph Buc­chi­aneri — placekicker, poet, pi­anist, plebe — the Army-Navy game was just one play away from be­ing his to de­cide. Army was lead­ing 16-14, but the Mid­ship­men had driven 79 yards in 12 plays in the game’s fi­nal 4 min­utes, from their own 20-yard line to Army’s one, and now it was third-and-goal with 12 sec­onds left to play, and Buc­chi­aneri (pro­nounced Boo-chee-ah-nary) was recit­ing his mantra on the side­lines: ‘I’m go­ing in to kick the game-win­ner,’ “ Sports Il­lus­trated wrote.

Twelve sec­onds later, Mr. Buc­chi­aneri was in shock, white as a ghost. His kick missed right by 18 inches.

Upon grad­u­a­tion from the U.S. Naval Academy, he spent five years as a naval of­fi­cer sta­tioned in the Mid­dle East, Cen­tral Amer­ica and Asia. He worked two years with con­trac­tor Lock­heed Martin in South Amer­ica and Europe, han­dled Mid­dle East pol­icy for the State Depart­ment’s Bureau of Po­lit­i­cal-Mil­i­tary Af­fairs and grad­u­ated from Har­vard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment.

Now, with the Army game still no dis­tant mem­ory, Mr. Buc­chi­aneri has just en­tered Penn­syl­va­nia’s Demo­cratic pri­mary — his aim this time to un­seat a re­tired Marine who went from drill in­struc­tor at Par­ris Is­land to be­ing awarded two Pur­ple Hearts. He is the only Demo­crat fac­ing the out­spo­ken and em­bat­tled vet­eran Rep. John P. Murtha, and if he were to win it would be the long­est field goal of his life.

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