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Army vs. Navy: Another tradition

Army vs. Navy: Another tradition

The 114th edition of one of the oldest and best rivalry in all of college football takes place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. This Saturday, as the Army Black Knights will take on the Navy Midshipmen. This is more than just a game between two service academies it is an event, and for those lucky enough to have tickets to this football game you are in for quiet a treat.

The Midshipmen lead the all-time series at 57 wins, 49 losses, and 7 ties. They have won the last 12 in a row in a match up that dates all the way back to Nov.29, 1890. In that first game it was Navy coming out on top 24-0 at West Point, N.Y. How things have changed since that first game was played. What has not change is the way these two football teams approached this game. The emotion, passion and respect for one another that is display on and off the field is the same now as it was back in 1890.

Army comes into this game with a 3-8 record having lost their last four in a row. They have 27 seniors on this year team, that have one thing in common they have never beaten Navy. The Black Knights boasted the best running attack in all of FBS football, averaging 325.9 yards per game. They are led by a solid one two punch of Terry Baggett (130 rushes, 1,072 yards, 8 TD) and Larry Dixon (102 carries, 672 yards, 6TD). Junior quarterback Angel Santiago is mastering the triple option offense, and at times he has struggled. Head Coach Rich Elision believes with more reps and experience that Santiago can become a good option quarterback for the Cadets. His passing numbers 41 of 83, 542 yards with 2TD, 1 INT. and a quarterback rating of 109.8 may not be great, but with all the responsibility an option quarterback has to learn with running this type of offense coach Elision may be right with more seasoning Santiago could be something special at Army.

The defense for the Black knights has been a problem area, they have on average giving up 31 points per game. On 4 different occasions this unit has allowed 40 points, in their 8 losses the Black Knights have allowed 292.3 yards on the ground. As is the case with Navy the defensive group is undersize, Thomas Holloway leads them with 59 tackles. For Army to have a chance in this game the defense must finds way of getting off the field, and give the offense with has avg. 26.0 points pre game and 406.5 yards of total offense an opportunity to sustained drives and wear Navy down.

In recent years the Navy Midshipmen have become a consist program, winning six, seven sometimes eight games a season. This year is no different as the Midshipmen will be heading to the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to play Middle Tennessee on Dec.30. The offense is lead by sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds who has been effected with both his arm and legs. Thru the air Reynolds has completed 63 of 114 passes for 1,028 yards and 8 TD, with a QB rating of 150.9. On the ground is where Reynolds has been at his best, 250 rushes good for 1,124 yards and 26 TD, including an NCAA record 7 rushing touchdowns in their triple overtime win vs. San Jose State. That performance earned Reynolds ECAC offensive player of the week honors. In 5 of the 7 wins the Midshipmen’s offense has scored 40 or more points, Navy avg. 350.7 yards on the ground and 105.7 in the air. For the season Navy offense has scored 34.4 points per game and gain 419 yards of total offense.

On defense the Midshipmen have been ok, the unit is allowing 230 yards of passing and 188 yards on the ground. In their four losses that number jumps to 266.5 on the ground, Cody Peterson leads the team in tackles with 124 on the season, Navy has 15 seniors who will play the last Army Navy game. This will also be the last time that the Midshipmen will play this game as a FBS independent, as next season they will join the American Athletic Conference as a member. With a win Navy can once again lay clam to the Commander in Chief trophy, a win by Army would mean the trophy would be share by the two schools.

There is more to this game than the just the stats, for instance the opportunity to witness the Cord of Cadets and the Midshipmen march into the stadium should leave a lasting impression on those who see it in person. This year Army will march into Lincoln Field first at 12:16 PM, with Navy doing the same at 12:46 PM. The coin toss will be done using the same coin that President John F. Kennedy use at the Army Navy game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas back in 1963.

A tip of the hat should also go to the NCAA, for scheduling this game as the only game on the docket for this weekend. These young men have earned the right to have the spotlight shine on them this Saturday. For no other reason than after their playing days are over, they will make the ultimate sacrifice of serving this country.

photo by: The U.S. Army

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