The Army Black Knights secured the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy for the first time since 1996 as they defeated the Navy Midshipmen, 14-13, for a second consecutive win in college football’s greatest rivalry game.
It was only fitting that the team honoring soldiers who operated in harsh winter conditions picked up the victory as snow fell at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia throughout the game. Army wore all-white uniforms to commemorate the 10th Mountain Division, which was formed during World War II.
The snowfall would not impact these two offenses as both teams completed just one pass in the game. That’s not really a shocker considering how these teams operate, but the weather conditions also limited the teams from passing or using the pitch on option plays. Still, what makes the Army vs. Navy game so unique is all the different variations of option football are on full display as the two teams combined for 515 yards on the ground, led by their quarterbacks.
Army (9-3) won the game on their first and final drives on offense. Head coach Jeff Monken could not have asked for a better start to the game, scoring the opening touchdown on an 11-play, 68-yard drive in which Darnell Woolfolk found the end zone. Other than that, Army was mostly ineffective on offense until when it mattered most.
Malcolm Perry got the start at quarterback for Navy (6-6) and was the most explosive player on the field for either team. He picked up yards in bunches, racking up 250 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown. However, it is the long gain in which he didn’t score that ultimately cost Navy in the end.
Perry looked to be headed for pay dirt on the first possession of the second half, but a touchdown-saving tackle by defensive end John Voit ultimately saved the game for the Black Knights. That led to a Navy field goal as the Army defense came up with the huge stop in the red zone to keep the game within one score.
Ahmad Bradshaw did not have his best game statistically – 21 carries for 94 yards – but his go-ahead touchdown with 5:10 remaining in the game proved to be the difference maker for Army. The senior quarterback was terrific on the final drive, picking up big play after big play before punching it in from one yard out to take the lead.
It was not a smooth sailing from there as Army kicker Nick Schrage put the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to give the Mids possession at the 35. Perry had one last chance to get Navy into field goal range, and did so following a fourth-and-3 play in which he dropped the snap and still picked up 12 yards and the first down to keep the drive alive. However, two false start penalties pushed them back and Bennett Moehring’s 48-yard try sailed wide left as time expired to give Army the win.
It has been a rough second half of the season for the Midshipmen as they have now lost six of their last seven games after starting the season 5-0. If there is one encouraging thing for Ken Niumatalolo to point to during this rough stretch, it’s that Navy’s widest margin of defeat was 10 points. They will square off against the Virginia Cavaliers in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28.
It was the first time the Black Knights picked up a win in 11 Army-Navy games played at Lincoln Financial Field, which should come as no shocker considering they lost 14 straight meetings leading up to last season’s victory. Monken, Bradshaw and the rest of the Black Knights will finish their season against the San Diego State Aztecs on Dec. 23 in the Armed Forces Bowl.