Teague’s first kick sailed through from 23 yards and came with 12 minutes 3 seconds to play to give the Midshipmen the lead for good. The senior who had missed nine kicks overall this season added a 44-yarder with 10:26 left, and after some tense moments down the stretch, Navy (5-7) was able to celebrate its closest triumph over Army since 2000 and numb the discomfort of its first losing season since 2002.
“It was a fairy-tale ending for us,” said Midshipmen Coach Ken Niumatalolo, who was holding back tears during his postgame news conference when discussing Teague and the rest of the senior class.
Redemption for Teague unfolded also thanks to a pair of seminal moments in the final five minutes. The first was a Navy defensive stand that forced a turnover on downs. Army had advanced from its 33-yard line to the Midshipmen 25 and on fourth and seven elected to go for it, but junior linebacker Matt Warrick came free on a blitz to drop quarterback Trent Steelman for a loss.
Then, as the Midshipmen were running out the clock on their ensuing possession, they faced fourth and one from their 48. Navy lined up as if it would go for the first down, but senior quarterback Kriss Proctor managed to draw freshman defensive tackle Jacob Drozd offside to extend the series and effectively end the first Army-Navy game contested within proximity of the nation’s capital.
“To beat Army for a decade is unheard of,” Proctor said after rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. “To do anything 10 straight times, whatever it is, is hard to do, and for Navy to beat Army 10 straight times, it’s really remarkable.”
Navy finished with 296 rushing yards and attempted only three passes, one of which was completed for 13 yards. The Midshipmen rushed for their most yards against Army since 2008, and their passing yardage total was their lowest since 2007, when Navy threw for seven yards.
It was the first time this season Navy won a game when rushing for fewer than 300 yards, and it won for just the second time in seven games decided by eight or fewer points.
“It’s amazing to see where this program has come from 10 years ago when the program wasn’t necessarily going the right way,” said Navy’s Jabaree Tuani, a senior defensive tackle and co-captain.
After closing the first half on its heels, Navy got a jump-start to the third quarter courtesy of a 48-yard kickoff return by senior fullback Alexander Teich, who was inserted in place of regular returner Bo Snelson. Five plays later, Proctor scored from two yards after a pickup of 20 by sophomore slotback Gee Gee Greene and an eight-yard run by Teich on first and goal.