Navy 42, Army 23
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Tired of hearing the gap with its biggest rival had closed, Navy made a statement.
Adam Ballard had 192 of the Midshipmen’s 490 yards rushing, leading Navy to a 42-23 victory over Army in the 106th meeting between the service academies.
Quarterback Lamar Owens added 99 yards rushing and three TDs, Ballard scored twice and Reggie Campbell had a 54-yard TD run for bowl-bound Navy (7-4).
The Midshipmen have won four straight and six of the last seven games against Army to take a one-game lead in the overall series at 50-49-7.
“I would’ve been satisfied with a one-point victory, but we wanted to prove that we’re on a different level,” Owens said. “That’s a team that was calling us out, saying they were better than for us whatever reason. We listened to that for two weeks. To come out and play the way we did was phenomenal.”
Zac Dahman tossed three TD passes and had 255 yards passing for Army (4-7), which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
“It just comes down to execution. We didn’t play that well or to the best of our ability,” Dahman said.
Navy outscored Army 134-31 in the previous three meetings, winning each one by 28 points or more. But the much-improved Black Knights came out strong, and led 10-7 midway through the second quarter.
The Midshipmen responded with TD runs of 28 and 1 yards by Owens to take a 21-10 lead at halftime. Ballard’s 67-yard scamper made it 42-17 just 9 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Navy captured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy outright for the third straight year, a first in school history. The coveted trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the football competition between the three major service academies, was on the line for both teams for the first time in nine years.
“Everybody was saying they had caught us and we weren’t that good,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “I’m of the adage that you have to show me.”
One of the most storied rivalries in college sports, for many the game has taken on even more significance in recent years because of the ongoing war against terrorism.
Army linebacker Barrett Scruggs wore on his uniform the actual patch of a soldier who was recently killed in action in Afghanistan.
Fighter jets and helicopter gunships roared over the stadium before kickoff, electrifying the sellout crowd of 69,322 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Army’s Golden Knights and the Navy’s Leapfrogs were supposed to parachute onto the field, but strong winds canceled their jumps.
President Bush, who participated in the coin toss last year, didn’t attend the game.
“It’s a big rivalry no matter what the records are,” Navy linebacker Rob Caldwell said. “It’s like fighting your brother in the backyard. We respect those guys more than any team we play because we’re on the same side now.”
After Army went ahead 3-0, Campbell took an option toss from Owens and sprinted untouched past the entire defense down the left side for his fourth TD this season.
But the Black Knights answered with Dahman’s 30-yard TD pass to Jeremy Trimble to make it 10-7. Trimble split two defenders and was so wide open that it appeared he was a punt returner making a fair catch.
On the ensuing possession, Owens faked an inside handoff, bounced outside, broke several tackles and ran 28 yards down the left sideline for his ninth TD rushing. Owens’ second, 1-yard TD run made it 35-10 late in the third quarter.
Dahman tossed an 18-yard TD pass to Carlton Jones to cut it to 35-17, but Ballard broke loose on the next play.
Jones finished with 80 yards rushing and became the second player for Army to run for 1,000 yards twice in his career. Mike Mayweather did it in 1989-90.
A confident Navy offense went for a fourth-and-6 from the Army 36 on the opening possession. Owens tossed a backward pass to burly offensive lineman Matt Pritchett, who was stopped after a 2-yard gain. That was one of the few times the Black Knights shut down a Navy runner, and it was a 267-pound blocker.
Army’s last victory over Navy was 26-17 in 2001.
Navy started this year with losses to Maryland and Stanford, but won its next four games. The Midshipmen are headed to the inaugural Poinsettia Bowl against Colorado State on Dec. 22 in San Diego.
It’ll be the third straight bowl appearance for Navy, a first in the academy’s history.
Under second-year coach Bobby Ross, Army was respectable this season. The Black Knights started 0-6, but won four straight before losing to their rival.
“We took a beating. It’s very disappointing to end the season the way we did,” Ross said. “All in all, we made progress but this game was indicative of the work that needs to be done.”
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