A new venue for Army-Navy produced a familiar result Saturday as the Midshipmen rushed for 296 yards and capitalized on three Army turnovers in a 27-21 win over the Black Knights.
With President Barack Obama presiding over the first Army-Navy game to be played in the vicinity of the nation’s capital, the Mids (5-7) got a pair of touchdown runs from quarterback Kriss Proctor and one from fullback Alexander Teich to win their 10th straight in the rivalry.
At least this one was close. Navy had won the other nine by at least a dozen points. The Mids needed a pair of fourth-quarter field goals from Jon Teague and a fourth-down stop in their own territory before those in the blue uniforms could start chanting “10 more years!”
Proctor ran 32 times for 97 yards, and Teich — winner of the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar athlete — carried 18 times for 93 yards for Navy, which completed only one pass in the tussle between run-heavy, triple-option teams.
Raymond Maples and Malcolm Brown ran for 82 yards apiece for Army (3-9), which finished the season with four straight losses. The Black Knights rushed for 298 yards and completed only four passes.
Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, worked the Navy sidelines before the game, shaking hands and even getting a hug from the Navy mascot — a ram wearing a Santa hat. The president performed a left-handed coin toss at midfield — Army won and elected to receive — then adhered to presidential tradition by spending a half on each side of the field. He switched from Navy to Army with an escorted walk on the 50-yard line from sideline to sideline in a formal halftime ceremony.
As always, the pageantry was breathtaking, starting with the Army Corps of Cadets’ march onto the field three hours before kickoff. Then the Navy’s Brigade of Midshipmen took their turn. Both sides taunted each other in good spirits — “Why so quiet?” was the Navy chant after the Mids took a 14-0 lead — and beach balls and even an inflatable snake were batted around the lower deck while slick scoreboard videos poked fun at one academy or the other.
But there were also stirring moments of tribute for the 80,789 inside the Washington Redskins stadium, and both sides swayed and sang loudly when Lee Greenwood performed “God Bless the U.S.A.” at halftime.
Both teams stuck to their triple option attacks and rarely even bothered trying to put the ball in the air. Navy didn’t throw a pass in the first half, although Proctor was sacked twice. Army quarterback Trent Steelman, starting again after missing time this season with left ankle and right leg injuries, went 1 for 2 in the half.
After the teams traded fumbles in the first quarter, Navy took advantage of a short field to score first on Proctor’s 4-yard run. Another Army fumble, this one near midfield, led to Teich’s 10-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
The Black Knights answered with back-to-back scoring drives. Steelman had a 34-yard touchdown run, and then showed that a top-notch air attack isn’t needed to execute the 2-minute drill. He completed one pass — for 10 yards — in a 63-yard drive that took only 1:56 and tied the game on Brown’s 5-yard run with 49 seconds to go in the half.
Teich opened the second half with his first kickoff return of the season, plowing 47 yards to give Navy the ball in Army territory. Proctor gave the Mids a 21-14 lead five plays later with a twisting 2-yard run.
Army responded again, tying the game with the Black Knight’s fifth touchdown pass of the season. Steelman found Brown wide open for a 25-yard strike.
But Army wouldn’t score again.
Navy had committed only 26 penalties all season — fewest in the country — and their first infraction Saturday came at a bad time — a false start on third-and-goal at the 1 with the score tied in the fourth quarter. The Mids had to settle for Teague’s 23-yard field goal to take a 24-21 lead with 12:03 to play.
But Army’s James Whittington fumbled the ensuing kickoff to give Navy the ball at the Black Knights’ 27. Teague, who entered the game having made only 8 of 13 field goal attempts this season for Navy’s beleaguered kicking game, came through again four plays later with a 44-yard effort that made it 27-21 with 10:26 to go.
Needing a touchdown, Army drove to Navy’s 25, but Steelman was stopped on fourth-and-7, stuffed for a 1-yard loss when linebacker Matt Warrick read the triple option perfectly with 4:31 remaining.
story by: Joseph White
photo courtesy of: Rob Carr