Navy tops Army 17-13, 11th straight win in series
Trent Steelman walked off the field, about ready to burst into
Army’s quarterback finished his career 0 for Navy.
Four starts, four losses.
So many around him felt his pain. Army officials hugged him.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo wrapped his arm around Steelman and told
him how proud he was to have him go out and protect this
He felt as empty as his number in the win column.
Tight games or blowouts, Navy has made a habit of beating Army.
Keenan Reynolds helped Navy top Army for the 11th straight time,
scoring the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter in a 17-13
victory in the 113th rivalry game Saturday.
The Midshipmen can hook an anchor to the Commander-in-Chief’s
Trophy and bring it to Annapolis.
Army (2-10) hasn’t hoisted the CIC trophy since 1996.
”I feel like we deserved that game in every way possible but it
just didn’t happen,” Steelman said. ”We were wearing them down
and there was nothing that was going to stop us. But that’s
Navy (8-4) and won the CIC trophy awarded to the team with the
best record in games among the three service academies. Army and
Navy each beat Air Force, putting the prestigious trophy up for
grabs in the regular-season finale for the first time since
Unlike previous games over the last decade, the Black Knights
were in this one until their final 70-yard drive. Army had driven
to the 14 when Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon fumbled on a
sloppy exchange. Navy recovered and the Midshipmen on the sideline
went wild and rushed the field.
”We’ve talked about Trent’s career a lot,” Army coach Rich
Ellerson said. ”This is unfortunate because this doesn’t correlate
with what he’s accomplished here. He deserves to feel better on the
In front of 69,607 fans and Vice President Joe Biden at Lincoln
Financial Field, Navy caught a break when Army missed a late field
Reynolds quickly found Brandon Turner down the sideline for a
49-yard gain. Reynolds, named the game’s MVP, then escaped a rush
and followed with the 8-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the
The CIC trophy was coming back to the Naval Academy for a record
13th time after a two-year stint at Air Force. Before Navy started
its 11-game winning streak, the longest one in the series, started
in 1890, was only five games for either team.
”It means everything,” Niumatalolo said. ”That’s our No. 1
goal, to get the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. I’m just so happy for
The Midshipmen gathered at midfield and posed with the trophy
while their classmates in the stands celebrated the win.
Niumatalolo sought out Steelman for some encouraging words.
”They don’t get any tougher than Trent Steelman,” he said. ”I
know everyone in our locker room has nothing but respect for that
Late in the third, Army’s James Kelly stripped the ball and
linebacker Alex Meier recovered to give the Black Knights the ball
at Navy’s 37. Eric Osteen kicked a 21-yard field goal 10 plays
later for a 13-10 lead.
Osteen, however, was wide left on a 37-yard attempt with 6:57
left in the game.
Navy made them pay on Reynolds’ score. The Midshipmen now lead
the series 57-49-7
”It’s hard to do,” Niumatalolo said. ”It’s hard to beat
anybody in a rivalry game, but to do it that long just speaks
volumes about the guys in the white jerseys.”
Navy not only won 10 straight, but pretty much dominated the
Black Knights, winning games in 2007 and 2008 by a combined 74-3
Navy’s 27-21 win last season was the tightest margin since the
winning streak started. Last year was just a start at nudging
closer toward ending the winning streak.
After a scoreless first quarter, Army and Navy swapped rushing
TDs in the second. Navy fullback Noah Copeland plowed straight up
the middle for a 12-yard score. Steelman matched him with an
11-yarder for his program-tying 17th TD run of the season, then
saluted the cadets after the score.
Carlton Jones had 17 rushing touchdowns in 2004.
Nick Sloan put Navy up 10-7 with a 31-yard field goal.
Then came the ugly – yet, so sweet – kick for Army that send the
game into halftime tied at 10. Navy twice tried to freeze Osteen
with consecutive timeouts. They didn’t work. There was a high snap,
a line drive kick, a glance off the upright and – good! Osteen’s
41-yarder as time expired had the cadets rocking the Linc.
The fun wouldn’t last and it was just the latest loss for the
There’s more football left for Navy after Saturday’s
tradition-filled spectacle. The Midshipmen play Arizona State in
the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Francisco.
With cadets and midshipmen standing, bouncing and cheering on a
gloomy day, it was clear how much the centuries-old rivalry means
to both sides.
Biden handed off coin flipping duties to a referee before the
game and made the traditional switch from the Navy side to the Army
side at halftime. Team highlights were played to ”Gonna Fly Now.”
Billed as ”America’s Game,” the hours before kickoff were
highlighted by the Army Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of
Midshipmen march onto the field. The cadet glee club performed the
Cadets even brought one of those oversized goofy cutouts of
Biden’s head to show off during the game.
There were reminders all around the Linc, full and with a
festive vibe for a rare time this football season, that this was no
ordinary game. Forget the kiss cam during timeouts. Purple Hearts
and Distinguished Service Cross awards were presented.
Low clouds wiped out the parachute jumps.
The Midshipmen played with ”Rafi” stickers on the back of
their helmets as a salute to injured third-string quarterback Ralph
Montalvo. Montalvo remained in a medically-induced coma after he
was critically injured in a car accident near his home last on
Montalvo was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia and dress for
the Army-Navy game before the accident. The Naval Academy had
shipped his game jersey to his parents and it will be waiting for
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