Army’s skid against Navy reaches 12 with 34-7 loss

Walking off the muddy field after another disheartening loss to

Navy, embattled Army coach Rich Ellerson probably wondered if he

would get another chance to beat his school’s biggest rival.

The Black Knights offered little resistance Saturday in a 34-7

defeat, their 12th straight in a lopsided series that Army once

dominated.

”I love that football team,” Ellerson said about his squad.

”I want desperately for them to have a better feeling today.

That’s what is killing me.”

Army (3-9) fumbled five times and was intercepted once in its

fifth straight defeat. Ellerson fell to 0-5 against the Midshipmen

and 20-41 overall since taking the job in December 2008.

Whether he will be back in 2014 remains up in the air.

”That’s not my call,” he said. ”Obviously, in the body of

work, we’ve made some progress. But I wasn’t brought in to make

progress. I was brought in to win some football games and beat

Navy. I’ve lost to our rival five times.”

Asked if he’s gotten any indication about his future, Ellerson

replied, ”We haven’t had that conversation. I’m a football coach.

It’s hard, but again, it’s not about me, it’s those guys. That’s

who I’m sick for right now.”

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for 136 yards and three

touchdowns, and Navy (8-4) took a 17-0 halftime lead before

coasting to the finish.

”I thought we closed the gap the last two years, but that gap

opened back up,” Ellerson said.

Reynolds scored on runs of 47 yards, 11 yards and 1 yard. The

sophomore has 29 rushing touchdowns, breaking the single-season

mark for a quarterback previously held by Ricky Dobbs (Navy, 2009)

and Collin Klein (Kansas State, 2011), both of whom had 27.

His third score – with 46 seconds left in a lopsided game – gave

him 176 points for the season, breaking the school record of 174

set by Bill Ingram in 1917.

”The thought did come across my mind to take a knee,” Navy

coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ”But then my thoughts went to, I have

a kid that has a chance to break a record that’s hard to come

by.”

Navy’s effort to score in the final minute was taken in stride

by the Black Knights.

”It’s like any rivalry. They were just playing football,” Army

linebacker Jarrett Mackey said. ”If they wanted to run the ball,

it was up to us to stop them. It’s not on them, it’s on us.”

Navy (8-4) won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the second

consecutive season and ninth time in 11 years. The trophy is

awarded to the service academy with the most victories in games

between Navy, Army and Air Force.

The Midshipmen haven’t lost to Army since 2001 and lead the

series 58-49-7. Navy’s 12-game run is the longest in the history of

the rivalry that began in 1890.

”I’ve got a lot of good friends on that side,” Niumatalolo

said. ”They’ve got great kids over there. They go through what our

kids go through. But ultimately, I’ve got to think about our

team.”

Niumatalolo became the second coach in Navy history to start his

coaching career 6-0 against Army, matching Paul Johnson

(2002-07).

The Midshipmen will conclude their season in the Armed Forces

Bowl against Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 30.

The snow that was forecast in the morning hours began during the

pregame pageantry that makes this game a one-of-a-kind spectacle.

The snow, along with the freezing temperatures, created an

uncomfortable setting for those in the packed stadium.

Many of them left after the first half, which ended with Navy up

17-0.

Making his first college start, Army quarterback A.J. Schurr

lost the handle on the wet football with his arm cocked to throw.

Teammate Larry Dixon recovered, but the 20-yard loss doomed the

Black Knights to end their first possession with a punt.

Schurr fumbled on the next drive, too, and this time Navy

recovered at its own 38. That ended his day.

”If you’re struggling to hold onto the ball, that will get you

out of there,” Ellerson said.

Following the turnover, Quinton Singleton burst through a hole

in the middle and ran 58 yards to the Army 4, setting up a field

goal for a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Angel Santiago came in at quarterback for the Black Knights at

just about the same time the intensity of the snow increased. On

fourth-and-3 at the Navy 33, Terry Baggett lost three yards.

Midway through the second period, Noah Copeland ran 39 yards for

a touchdown to make it 10-0.

With 2:38 left in the half, Reynolds gingerly picked his way

through the Army defense on his record-tying touchdown run.

In the third quarter, the snow turned to rain and Santiago did

his best to make a game of it. After throwing a 29-yard pass to

Xavier Moss, the junior quarterback scored on a 4-yard run to get

the Black Knights to 17-7.

Reynolds answered with an 11-play drive that produced a field

goal. Army then failed to convert a fourth-and-3 from its own 42, a

futile gamble that all but assured the Black Knights another

frustrating loss against their far more successful service academy

rivals.