Football can as cruel a sport as it is gratifying. No one showed that more today than Army quarterback Trent Steelman.
The Black Knights, which had lost 10 consecutive games to Navy, led the Midshipmen 13-10 with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. It would have been a six-point game had Eric Osteen, already 2-for-2 on the day made a 37-yard field goal.
Instead, Osteen’s third attempt sailed wide left, and Navy mounted a seven-play, 80-yard drive to score a touchdown in just over two minutes. Given that Navy had just over 200 yards of offense the entire game until that point, the Midshipmen’s scoring drive was surprising as it was quick. Freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds connected with Brandon Turner for a 49-yard gain and Reynolds punched it in one play later.
That left Army with 4:41 left. Steelman orchestrated a 70-yard drive to put the Black Knights inside the Navy 15. Needing a touchdown — remember the Osteen miss — Steelman handed off to running back Larry Dixon, who fumbled. Navy recovered. It was Army’s third turnover of the game.
Just like that, the game was over. Navy won 17-13, its 11th straight over Army to take Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, and another class goes through West Point without beating its rival.
Steelman was inconsolable. A four-year starter, Steelman’s had a fantastic career at West Point. He gave everything he had today and came up short. Again.
You don’t want to get too caught up in the drama of the moment, but the image of Steelman sobbing during the playing of the alma maters was equal parts heartbreaking and powerful.
And that’s why Army-Navy, no matter the records or the win streaks, still ranks among the great games in college football.