Navy 42, Army 23
One hundred and five previous football games between Army and Navy had produced 49 victories for each side and seven ties. Saturday, before a sold-out stadium and national television audience, the Midshipmen's offense dominated the 106th meeting in a manner unprecedented in this storied rivalry.
Navy scored touchdowns on six consecutive possessions bridging the second and fourth quarters to cruise to a 42-23 victory in front of 69,322 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Midshipmen's 490 rushing yards and 531 yards of total offense were the most by either team in the history of the series.
But more importantly for Navy, which has won four straight over the Black Knights for the first time since 1973-76, the victory meant it retained possession of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the service academies' three-way competition that includes Air Force. Navy has won the trophy three straight years for the first time in its history.
"I would have been satisfied with a one-point win," said senior quarterback Lamar Owens, named the game's most valuable player after rushing for 99 yards and three touchdowns and adding 41 yards passing. "But to see our offense take off in the second and third quarters really made a statement we are on another level."
For the fourth straight year, Navy (7-4) did pretty much anything it wanted to do against the smaller and slower Black Knights (4-7). Navy sophomore fullback Adam Ballard rushed for a career-high 192 yards, 179 in the second half, and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Senior slotback Marco Nelson had seven carries for 77 yards, and sophomore slotback Reggie Campbell rushed for 60 yards and a score on three carries.
"Seniors," Owens yelled as soon as Navy's band finished playing the alma mater. "Let's carry the trophy back home."
Leading 21-10, Navy delivered the knockout punch on its opening possession of the second half. The Midshipmen went 75 yards on seven plays, the last a 28-yard burst up the middle by Ballard to push the lead to 28-10. It was Navy's fourth touchdown in a span of 18 minutes 44 seconds.
But Navy wasn't finished. Owens methodically drove his team down the field before sneaking in from the 1-yard line to cap a 45-yard drive, making it 35-10 with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
"I didn't think they would have as much pep in their step after someone scores like that," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "It's not fun when the ball is being run down your throat."
Army pulled within 35-17 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zac Dalman to senior running back Carlton Jones, but it didn't matter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ballard burst up the middle and ran untouched for a 67-yard touchdown, the longest play by a Midshipman this season.
"As soon as I got through the hole I looked up at the JumboTron," said Ballard, whose 192 yards were the most by a Midshipman since 2001. "I was like, 'Where is everybody?' "
Early on, it appeared Navy, which had outscored Army, 134-31, the previous three games, would be tested against the Black Knights.
After Army forced Navy to punt from its end zone on its second possession, the Black Knights took advantage of their good field position to take a 3-0 lead when junior Justin Koenig's 32-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 26-yard drive with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
Navy countered immediately. When Owens kept the ball and ran to his left and just as he was hit head-on by an Army defender, he pitched to Campbell, one of Navy's fastest players. Campbell raced 54 yards untouched down the sideline to give his team a 7-3 lead with 13:59 left in the half, but Army regained the lead, 10-7, six minutes later when sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Trimble, a 2003 All-Met from O'Connell, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dalman. Trimble finished with a game-high six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Owens used the option to find the end zone again on its next series. Owens, who confused the Black Knights throughout the drive by pitching to wide open slotbacks for big gains, decided to keep the ball when he headed to his left from Army's 28-yard line. Owens ran through arm tackles by defensive backs Rob Davis and Caleb Campbell to give his team a 14-10 lead with 3:46 left in the half.
"We didn't have to be superstars or heroes to win," Owens said. "We just had to execute."