Another year, another Navy victory over Army.
This year’s game was played in a mixture of snow and freezing rain as the game went on, but no matter what sort of wintry mix was falling from the sky, nothing Army was able to do was enough to slow down Navy’s red-hot quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds set an NCAA record while rushing for three touchdowns to power Navy to a 34-7 victory over their service academy rivals from West Point.
Reynolds tied the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season with his 27th touchdown run of the year in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter he broke the three-way tie with former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and another former Midshipman quarterback, Ricky Dobbs. On his first fourth quarter touchdown run, an 11-yard scamper, Reynolds rushed for his 28th rushing touchdown of the season to become the new record holder for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. For good measure, he added one more from the one-yard line for his 29th of the season. Reynolds ended his day with 136 rushing yards, the fourth most rushing yards by a Navy player during Navy’s current 12-game winning streak against Army. Only running back Adam Ballard has had more rushing yards for Navy during this stretch, with 192 yards in the 2003 Army Navy Game, and Kyle Eckel‘s 179 yards in the 2004 game and 152 yards in the 2005 game.
Army seemed to struggle to adjust to the weather at times once the snow started to pick up, but this game was more about Navy’s overall advantage on the field when it comes to execution. Navy was just four of 15 on third down conversions, but Army was unable to create any momentum off of that. Army picked up just two first downs out of 11 third down conversions in the game and the Black Knights also went 0-for-2 on fourth downs. Navy was two for three on fourth down, and four for four inside the red zone.
As expected, neither team found much success throwing the football the few times they attempted to do so. Reynolds took just seven pass attempts and completed two for 10 yards.Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed half of his ten attempts for 50 yards, but he was also intercepted at midfield as Navy seemed to be putting the clamps on Army late in the first half. Amy managed just 157 yards of total offense. Navy more than doubled that production with 347 yards of offense.
Army showed signs of life midway through the third quarter when they finally got on the scoreboard with a Santiago touchdown run, but Navy answered with an 11-play drive and a field goal. In the fourth quarter, Reynolds put the game away with his two touchdown runs to earn game MVP honors.
Army’s season is now officially in the books. The Black Knights won just three games this season, and the future of the program could be in some doubt. there has been some talk floating around that Rich Ellerson may have needed this game to potentially save his job. Coaching at Army has to be one of the toughest in the country though, and by most accounts Ellerson has done all he can.With this loss, Ellerson’s record is 20-41 overall and 0-5 against Navy (1-9 against Navy and Air Force, combined).
Navy will go on to play one more game. The Midshipmen will face Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 30 in Fort Worth, Texas. Navy missed out on the postseason last year and are just 1-4 in bowl games under head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
Navy gets another year of bragging rights. Next year the Army Navy Game will travel down I-95 from Philadelphia to Baltimore, much closer to Navy’s campus.