Army Cadets sink Navy to halt 14-game skid vs. Mids, 21-17
Baltimore – Army (7-5) ended its 14-game losing streak against Navy (9-4), 21-17, as Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw scored a nine-yard TD run capping off an 80-yard drive to overcome a fourth quarter deficit. After kicking off to Navy, they forced a punt on a fourth and four from the Mids’ 40, an unexpected call by Navy after having seen so many gutsy calls this season. The Army Cadets of West Point converted critical first downs before going into the victory formation to up their win total against Navy who leads the series now, 60-50-7. In the final regular season of the 2016 season for all of college football, Collegefootballfan.com witnessed its 528th game of all time. However, our 2016 season is far from over!
Army took over the football on the 34 of the Naval Academy recovering a fumble on the Mids’ first possession of the game. FB Andy Davidson gave Army the first lead on his two-yard TD run, and Blake Wilson converted the PAT for a 7-0 lead. Navy’s third- string QB Zach Abey taking over for Will Worth, ECAC Player of the year whose season was curtailed by an ankle injury in the AAC Championship game against Temple, went to the air and was intercepted by CB Xavier Moss. But the Mids stopped the Army Cadets with an INT by S Sean Williams.
In the second period, a shanked punt put the Army Cadets at Navy’s 46, and Davidson took it over again, this time from the one. Before the period ended, Davison fumbled for Army, but Abey put air under the ball again and threw his second INT on the very next play. Army held a halftime lead, 14-0.
The weather was sunny but chilly to start the game, but as the sun set the wind picked up making it colder as the game continued. Many fans began to leave M&T Bank Stadium already. On the big screen, President-elect Donald Trump was seen being interviewed by CBS’s Vern Lundquist and drew big cheers. Vern was honored on the big board for his contributions to college football as this would be his final broadcast of a college football game. We’ve always enjoyed his commentary on college sports. Guest Game Analyst Frank Scarpa, an Army fan but Rutgers season ticket holder (trying to get him to come to his senses) , and I spent our pre-game at Pete’s Pour House on Mercer Street not far from the stadium and only paid $10 on Light Street to park for the day. It worked out great. Tailgated after the game with Brain Donnelly and his brother Dan (Dan from the tailgate blog) and friends before we wrapped things up back at Peter’s before calling it a night.
Army’s first possession of Q3 finished as did Navy’s with a lost fumble. Abey (19 carries, 73 yards, two TDs) finished the 32-yard drive with a one-yard TD to quickly cut the score in half, 14-7. Navy’s next possession resulted in Bennet Moehring’s 28-yard FG. Davidson fumbled the ball away again later in the period, but the Mids could not capitalize. The Army Cadets led heading into the final period still in the lead, 14-10.
Army punted early in the final period. Navy started with great field position from its 47. Two plays later, Abey zig-zagged down the field to give the Mids a lead, 17-14, with his 41-yard touchdown scamper. The Brigade cheered ecstatically looking for a come from behind win with their decimated offense. The Army Cadets sat still and silent with 12:42 remaining in the game. Army started from the 20. Bradshaw guided his team effectively using Davidson on FB plunges and slotbacks Jordan Asberry, Donnell Woolfork, and Kell Walker on the option. With six minutes, left, Bradshaw ran a keeper from the nine to retake the lead for the Army Cadets, 21-17.
Navy’s next possession ended very unusually with 4:07 remaining, one timeout left, and a fourth and four from the 40. HC Ken Niumatalolo elected to punt! In many situations, this season, we watched the Navy offense convert first downs in more difficult situations and even in less critical ones. However, under the circumstances against an Army offense that moved very efficiently down the field, we couldn’t understand why the AFCA Region 1 Head Coach of the Year elected to punt now with the possibility of never getting the ball back again. It seemed like the only chance to win was to go for it. But he punted. Army took over on its 23. The Army Cadets converted two first downs, Navy took its final time-out, and Army stormed the field to win its first game against Navy in fifteen years. Congratulations to Army. They deserved to win this game.
The Army Cadets will pay in the Heart of Texas Bowl on December 27 against North Texas State (5-7), a team they fell to earlier this season at West Point, 35-18. Navy travels to Fort Wort, Texas on December 23 to battle Louisiana Tech (8-5), winners of Conference USA West. To us with a very good season overall, we had hoped that the Mids would have gotten a shot to play a Power Five Conference opponent. However, with the loss of key personnel at the end of this season, the Bulldogs may be comparable competition for the Mids at this point.
As for Collegefootballfan.com, we take a well-deserved bye week break this upcoming weekend after fifteen consecutive Saturdays of attending college football spanning 15 weeks of twenty-one college football games. We look forward to putting up the Christmas tree, finishing up some work projects before the year is over, watching a few pro football games on TV, the company Christmas dinner party, catching up with a few friends, celebrating Christmas at home with St. Laurie and the kids, and visiting with extended family on Christmas Day and the day after to celebrate as well. Then two days after, our very busy bowl schedule gets rolling.
On December 27, we head back to Annapolis to the Military Bowl sponsored by Northrop-Grumman where Temple (10-3), champions of the American Athletic Conference we’ve seen play four times this year, face Wake Forest (6-6) of the ACC. We’ve seen both of these teams play previously in this bowl game but in games played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial makes a much finer location to play a college bow game.
The next day, we head back over to Yankee Stadium in The Bronx for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl where Pitt (8-4) of the ACC and Northwestern (6-6) of the Big Ten clash. Last year, we watched both of these teams lose their respective bowl games. Pitt fell to Navy, 44-28, in the Military Bowl. The Northwestern Wildcats fell even harder to Tennessee in the Outback, 44-6.
We fly next morning to Nashville to have a good time in one of our favorite cities. The first day, we plan to attend a women’s college basketball game where one of my former Little League baseball players, Lindsey Sabo, starts as guard for the Castleton State Spartans (VT) against Ohio Northern in the Music City Classic. They are currently 6-1 and Lindsey averages 9.7 ppg in her senior season. That’ll be fun. On Friday, December 30, I will attend the American Home Mortgage Music City Bowl, our fourth there ever. Tennessee (8-4), 3-1 in bowl games we’ve seen them in, will go up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I expect the Huskers to play better against the Vols than did the Wildcats or the Iowa Hawkeyes when I saw these two bowls with the Vols winning both bowl games by a combined score of 99-34 versus these two Big Ten teams. I did see Nebraska fall to Washington in the 2010 Holiday Bowl to Washington, 19-7.
From Nashville on the morning of New Year’s Eve day, I drive down to Atlanta to meet up with Charlie and Lynda Murren to attend the 3 pm kick-off at the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl in the Georgia Dome for the first game that day for the CFP. It will be first time at that venue for what will be the final college football game ever played there. No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Washington. Last time we saw Alabama play, it was in the Orange Bowl for the 2012 BCS Championship where we watched the soundly defeat Notre Dame for the title, 42-14. However, we don’t intend to end our 2016 season in Atlanta.
Somehow, I plan to get a ticket to the Championship game scheduled in Tampa on January 9. If you know where I can get a reasonably priced ticket that someone can’t use, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get together and have a great time. It should hopefully be game # 533 for collegefootballfan.com.