The football games that take place between Army and Navy are more than just 60 minute battles, they are traditions. This tradition has taken place since 1890, where the Naval Academy won the first meeting by a score of 24-0.
Navy holds the series advantage with a record of 58-49-7. The Midshipmen currently hold a 12-game winning streak over the Cadets, a streak that dates back to the 2002 season. Last season, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial field, Navy defeated Army in a 34-7 blowout.
During the Naval Academy’s illustrious winning streak, they have outscored the United States Military Academy by a wide margin of 400-132. Particular mismatches include a 58-point effort in 2002 and a pair of 42-point performances in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
After five of the previous six meetings took place in Philadelphia, Saturday’s matchup was held at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. This marked the first time since 2007, as well as the fifth time overall, that Army and Navy have played each other in Baltimore.
The Cadets got the ball to start the game, but were forced to punt. Army’s defense then forced the Midshipmen into a three and out on their first series. With Navy punter Pablo Beltran set to kick the ball away, Army’s special teams came up with the first points of the game.
Beltran’s punt was blocked and returned for a seven-yard touchdown by Xavier Moss. The explosive special teams play and an extra point gave the Cadets a 7-0 advantage in the first quarter. For much of the first half, Army demonstrated that they wanted to end the streak.
Late in the second quarter, Army’s offense threatened to widen its lead. Faced with a third and two at the Navy 31-yard line, quarterback Angel Santiago gained a single yard. Navy head coach, Ken Niumatalolo, immediately called a time out with 2:14 remaining.
As both sides faced a fourth and one situation, Navy’s swarming defense stopped Santiago for no gain. When their offense took over, quarterback Keenan Reynolds wasted little time, driving the Midshipmen all the way down to the Cadets nine-yard line.
Reynolds then rolled to his right side and threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamir Tillman. The scoring play capped off a six play, 70-yard drive with 18 seconds left in the half. Austin Grebe’s extra point brought the score to a 7-7 tie at halftime.
When the second half began, Ryan Williams-Jenkins got the Midshipmen off to a good start. The senior running back exploded for a 41-yard kickoff return. Williams-Jenkins’ big play provided Navy with outstanding field position from midfield.
The Midshipmen took advantage, driving towards Army’s red zone. Facing a third and eight from the Cadets 22-yard line, Keenan Reynolds was sacked for a loss of six-yards. Navy settled for a three-point lead after Grebe nailed a 45-yard field goal.
Army’s offense responded by marching 51-yards in seven plays. When the drive stalled, the Cadets tried to match Navy’s field goal with one of their own. However, Daniel Grochowski missed the 49-yard attempt which would have tied the game.
The Midshipmen capitalized off of the miss by driving 69-yards in 15 plays. The march ate up 7:49 of the game clock. Reynolds personally accounted for 48-yards on the drive and scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak. Grebe’s extra point extended Navy’s lead to 10.
On Army’s following possession, quarterback A.J. Schurr fumbled and the ball was recovered by defensive end Will Anthony. Navy had the ball for eight plays before Reynolds fumbled the ball back to the Cadets after running for no gain.
All of a sudden, Army clung to life. Grochowski atoned for his earlier miss by nailing a 52-yarder. The field goal capped off a nine play, 45-yard march following the turnover. With 1:51 remaining in the game, Navy’s lead was cut to seven.
Navy successfully recovered the ensuing onside kick. After forcing Army to use its final timeout, Keenan Reynolds ran for a 19-yard gain on second and 12. The first down run propelled the Midshipmen into victory formation to run out the rest of the clock.
The Midshipmen came out winners for the 13th straight time, defeating Army, 17-10. Once again, Navy’s triple-option offense prevailed against the Cadets defense. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo now has seven wins in his first seven games against Army.
Keenan Reynolds completed just six of eight passes for 77-yards while also rushing for 100-yards on 26 carries. He also accounted for both of Navy’s touchdowns, passing for one while rushing for the other.
Senior running back Larry Dixon was a bright spot for an Army offense that did not score a single touchdown. Dixon ran for 90-yards on 14 carries while catching a pass for 20 more. Another bright spot for the Cadets was its running game, which gained 198-yards on the ground.
In the end, the players from both teams sang their alma maters in a traditional postgame ceremony. This gathering displays a sense of brotherhood between both sides. Although they fight one another on the football field, they will always fight together on the battlefield.