PHILADELPHIA — Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds showed maturity beyond his years in leading Navy to extend their winning streak against Army to 11 straight games. Reynolds capped a game-winning drive with an eight-yard touchdown run and Navy’s defense recovered a fumble at the Navy 13-yard line with just over a minute to play. Navy defeated their rivals from Army, 17-13, to clinch the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2009.
The first half ended with Army and Navy exchanging scores on the final four possessions of the half. Navy opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run by Noah Copeland, the fifth touchdown of the season for the sophomore running back. Army answered right back by running right down field on Navy’s defense. Senior quarterback Trent Steelman found room up the middle of the Navy defense for an 11-yard touchdown scamper in to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
It looked as though Navy would take a lead in to halftime following a 31-yard field goal by Nick Sloan for a 10-7 lead with 25 seconds remaining, but a solid kick return and some quick work on offense Army was able to knot the game at 10-10 with a career long field goal by senior kicker Eric Osteen from 41-yards out.
Osteen gave Army their first second half lead in the Army Navy Game since 2001, the last time Army beat Navy, late in the third quarter with a tough-angle 21-yard field goal, but he would later miss form 37 yards in the fourth quarter to give Navy life.
Following the missed field goal, the game became the Keenan Reynolds show. Usually known for running the football, Navy opted to go to the passing game from their own 20-yard line and down by three points midway through the fourth quarter. A pair of completions by Reynolds moved Navy to near midfield, but it was a 49-yard pass to Brandon Turner down the right sideline that moved Navy deep in to the red zone. On the very next play Reynolds kept the football himself and found room to move in to the end zone for the eventual game-winning score.
Army started the ensuing possession from their 12-yard line following a poor kickoff return and a false start penalty with the Navy section creating noise right behind the line of scrimmage. Army was able to run effectively down field while working the clock for 12 plays, but Larry Dixon’s fumble inside the red zone was recovered by Navy to seal the fate for at least one more year.
Dixon carried the football 16 times for 61 yards and took more handoffs on the final drive than the game’s leading rusher, Raymond Maples. Maples ended the game with a game-high 156 rushing yards.
For Navy, Reynolds completed 10 of 17 passes for 130 yards. Army’s Trent Steelman completed four of his five pass attempts for 48 yards, and also rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown in his final game for Army. Steelman was emotionally drained after the game, having joined a number of other Army players to go through an entire college football career without being able to manage a victory against Navy.
“It’s just unfortunate, I don’t know how else to put it,” Steelman said after the game. “I feel like we deserved to win that game in every way possible but it just didn’t happen.”
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo had nothing but high praise for Steelman following the game.
“Every one should be proud as Americans to have a guy like that fighting for our country,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s tough.”
Army did manage to wear down Navy by rushing for 370 yards on 67 attempts, averaging 5.5 yards per rush. Despite the massive advantage in rushing yardage, Navy actually controlled the time of possession and, more importantly, won the turnover battle. Army turned the football over three times, while Navy lost the football just once.
Random Stats and Facts
Army is now 0-10 in games played in Lincoln Financial Field. That includes a record of 0-8 vs. Navy and a record of 0-2 against Temple, who plays their home games in the same stadium. Army’s last win against Navy in Philadelphia was played in Veterans Stadium, in 2001.
Army’s 13-10 lead in the third quarter was their first second half lead against Navy since 2001.
Navy senior linebacker Brye French proposed to his girlfriend in the stands after the win. She said yes.
Navy will take on Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Saturday, December 29. The two schools have never played each other in football. The Midshipmen look for their first bowl victory since winning in the Texas Bowl during the 2009 season. Navy is 1-3 in bowl games under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. Navy is 7-10-2 all time against schools currently in the Pac 12.
Army’s season comes to an end but Navy’s season will see one more game. The Black Knights bring an end to the second straight losing season for the program. Army will begin their 2013 season at home against FCS Morgan State on August 31, 2013.
Army’s 2013 schedule includes games against Stanford (at home), Louisiana Tech, Boston College, Temple, and Hawaii, in addition to usual rivals Air Force and Navy.
Next year’s Army Navy Game will once again be played in Philadelphia, tentatively scheduled for December 14, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Kevin is a national college football writer for rootshed.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.