PHILADELPHIA – The new era of Army-Navy rivalry resembles this: Kell Walker of the army rushing at full speed around his defender to free himself for a 51-yard run that creates a touchdown on the opening opening of the Black Knights.
It seems that safety Jaylon McClinton breaks the ball from the second-row quarterback Garret Lewis to force a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter – the first of two sailors fumbled that period while trying to gather.
It seems that the gray crowd of cadets who jump up and down with such fervor in the northwest corner of Lincoln Financial Field has lost their hoods in the melee.
The third consecutive victory of the Navy army, a 17-10 victory on Saturday in the 119th edition of the game, said much about the newly renewed strength of the army as a program as much as on the troubled Navy season.
The Black Knights of coach Jeff Monken claimed an undeniable property of momentum in the historic rivalry between army and navy and extended their turnaround program to a crowd of 66,729 people including President Trump, the first president seated at participate in the Army-Navy game in seven years.
The army, which defeated the Air Force, 17-14, at the beginning of November, will retain the commander's trophy for another year after claiming it in 2017 and for the third time in the last 23 years. The Black Knights will have the chance to win 11 games in a season for the first time in the history of the program, when they play in Houston on December 22nd at the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
It might seem as good as beating the Navy.
The Black Knights dominated the Midshipmen in attack for most of the Saturday, surpassing them from 283 to 208 with a delayed push by the Navy, which was held in scoreless and total 64 yards in the first three quarters.
On the ground, the army overcame its 222-127 rivals thanks to a balanced and disciplined attack led by quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., who ran for 64 yards and both Black Knights touchdowns.
The Navy racing game was just as anemic as it was throughout the season and was driven by the fast backback Malcolm Perry, who raced for 53 yards on six ships and never had a chance to do what he could do better: play great games.
A one-yard touchdown rush with 1:34 to play sealed the victory for the army, which mostly dominated Saturday. In addition to his gains on the field, Hopkins completed 4 passes on 9 for 61 yards and was fired once.
The navy quarterbacks, Lewis and Zach Abey, tried to get a much lower result. Lewis went 5 for 11 for 81 yards. Abey went 0 for 5 and launched two interceptions.
The Mids (3-10) ended their 13th consecutive loss on Saturday, ending the worst season since the 2-10s in 2002, the first year of Paul Johnson as head coach.
The army (10-2) started strong, with Walker, a young man, who pulled out a 51-yard career to put the Black Knights on Navy's 10. Hopkins ran into the initial touchdown unless 2 and a half minutes into the game, and the score seemed a setter of tones for the Army – it was, after all, the sixth time this season when the Navy defense allowed an opponent to score on opening disk.
What followed instead was a half-ball with closed balls that led to mutual uselessness.
The navy offensive threw some new looks in the army manner – they even used Perry in the formation of the wild cat, for a gain of a meter – none of which did much. The Mids closed the half with a total of 39 yards and did not convert any of their five thirds down.
The Black Knights were marginally more effective, closing the half with 180 yards, but missed some critical occasions including two incomplete. One arrived fourth and nine from Marina 31 in which Hopkins either threw at the wrong receiver or pulled out the intended target. It was a rare fourth round attempt for the army, entered Saturday after converting 30 of 33 quarters.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the half was the frequency with which both crimes threw the ball – they combined to complete 2 of 11 passage attempts, more than three times the total number of attempts to pass in the snow of the year last, with the same number of completions.
The navy managed to put together something in attack in the fourth quarter; a four 48-yard touchdown and a 46-yard field goal with 29 seconds in advance that turned out to be too small, too late.