Navy downs Army for 11th straight year
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Navy won its 11th straight game over Army, beating the Black Knights 17-13 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Keenan Reynolds' 8-yard rushing touchdown with 4:41 to play allowed the Midshipmen to take home the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, which is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major Service Academies -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- and is named in honor of the President of the United States. Navy will take the trophy back to Annapolis for the 13th time since the award began in 1972. Air Force, which lost to both of these squads this season, won the trophy the previous two years.
Reynolds completed 10-of-17 passes for 130 yards for the Midshipmen (8-4), who will play against Arizona State in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco later this month. Reynolds also carried the ball 15 times for 43 yards.
Noah Copeland rushed for 99 yards and a score on 22 carries for Navy, which owns a 57-49-7 advantage in the all-time series.
"What an unbelievable football game," Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "You've got two teams battling back and forth. Neither team would quit. I tip my hat to Coach Ellerson and Army. Those guys played tough. I'm very happy and proud of our young men. They stayed resilient. To me that game is indicative of the season."
Trent Steelman connected on 4-of-5 passes for 48 yards for the Black Knights (2-10), who lost three in a row to end the season. Steelman also carried the ball 17 times for 96 yards and a score.
Raymond Maples rushed for 156 yards on 27 carries in defeat.
Trailing by three, 13-10, Navy took over at its own 20 with about seven minutes to play. Geoffrey Whiteside kept the drive alive with a 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-8. Two plays later, Reynolds escaped a pair of defenders and scrambled for 11 yards along the right sideline. Reynolds then threw a 49-yard bomb down the right side of the field to Brandon Turner. With the ball at the 8-yard line, Reynolds found an opening on the right side and scampered into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
However, Army seemed poised to end its losing streak in the series. The Black Knights moved the ball into Navy territory following back-to-back catches by Chevaughn Lawrence. The drive came to a sudden end on 1st-and-10 from the 14, when a bad exchange between Steelman and Larry Dixon resulted in a fumble. Navy recovered the ball and ran out the rest of the clock.
"It was routine triple option for us," Steelman said. "Honestly, I don't really know what happened. It was a quarterback-fullback mesh but I'm running out of here so I'm going to put that one on me; there's no way I could put something like that on Larry."
The game started out as a defensive battle. Army got the ball to begin the contest and used seven straight running plays to get to the Navy 34. On 4th- and-5, Steelman was stopped after rushing for four yards.
A trio of punts followed and the Black Knights took over at their own 22 with 1 1/2 minutes left. Army moved the ball into Navy territory before Maples fumbled.
The Midshipmen recovered the ball at their own 34. Shawn Lynch caught a 19- yard pass on the second play. Later in the drive, Matt Aiken hauled in a pass of five yards on 3rd-and-5. Copeland followed with back-to-back 12-yard runs, with the second run resulting in a touchdown.
Army responded with a score of its own. Steelman and Maples ran for 20 and 11 yards, respectively, to put the ball at the Navy 44. Malcolm Brown's 14-yard run later in the drive led to Steelman's 11-yard TD run. The extra point made it 7-7 with 6:20 remaining until half.
Navy's Nick Sloan and Army's Eric Osteen traded field goals to keep it a tie game at the break. Sloan capped a 15-play drive with a 31-yard field goal, while Osteen made a 41-yarder as time expired.
The Black Knights took advantage of a fumble by the Midshipmen early in the third stanza. Reynolds fumbled and Army took over at the Navy 37. The Black Knights used the ground game to move the ball to the 2-yard line. However, Navy's defense came up with a big stop on 3rd-and-1, forcing a 21-yard Osteen field goal.
Army had a chance to extend its 13-10 margin early in the fourth quarter, but Osteen missed a 37-yard field goal.
12/08 20:35:27 ET