Dec. 1, 2007
Box Score |
BALTIMORE (AP) - How appropriate that Reggie Campbell ended his glorious afternoon by conducting the Navy band in the playing of the school's alma mater.
Given the versatility he displayed on the football field, why not let him try his hand at something else?
Campbell had a school-record 98-yard kickoff return, amassed 73 yards on punt returns and scored a rushing touchdown to lead the Midshipmen past mistake-prone Army 38-3 Saturday.
On a day in which Navy reached several milestones, the Midshipmen put a lopsided slant on college football's biggest rivalry by becoming the first team to win six straight.
"I'm really proud of our football team. Today they did something that had never been accomplished in the history of the Army-Navy series," coach Paul Johnson said.
"Thirty-eight to three is not much of a rivalry," Army coach Stan Brock conceded.
The Midshipmen improved to 52-49-7 against Army, their biggest lead in a series that began in 1890. No team had ever won six in a row, though the Black Knights once registered eight wins around a pair of ties.
Campbell, who accounted for 227 yards, was the difference. His kickoff return made it 14-3 in the second quarter, and the 5-foot-6 senior returned a punt 46 yards to set up a 51-yard field goal on the last play of the first half that put Navy up 24-3.
"I thought that was a huge play in the game from a momentum standpoint," Johnson said.
Navy (8-4), which earlier this year ended a 44-game losing streak to Notre Dame, capped a memorable regular season with another blowout against Army (3-9). The Midshipmen have outscored the Black Knights by 169 points during their six-game streak.
"It means a lot," Campbell said. "The seniors of the past couple of classes laid the foundation, and we're just kind of trying to keep it going."
Campbell, whose 12-yard run made it 31-3 with 10:18 left, was much smoother on the field than as a band leader.
"I didn't know what I was doing," he said, sheepishly. "There was a girl in front of me trying to show me, but it wasn't helping."
Although Navy's potent offense was limited to 294 yards, the Midshipmen set a school record for points in a season (479), breaking the mark of 442 set in 1917.
The Black Knights dropped several passes, fumbled three times, missed a short field goal and had a punt blocked. That was enough to doom Army's seniors to a fourth straight loss against their hated rivals.
"It hurts," senior linebacker Brian Chmura said. "Seniors have tears in their eyes. I had tears in my eyes."
The Black Knights had a chance to cut into a 21-point deficit in the third quarter, but Mike Viti lost a fumble on the Navy 1.
Army junior Tony Dace set career marks with 28 carries for 104 yards. But the run-oriented Knights couldn't rally behind sophomore Carson Williams, who went 12-for-21 for 117 yards before being replaced midway through the fourth quarter.
"It was bizarre. We couldnt get into the end zone," Dace said. "We moved the ball really well. But we just didnt finish. It's been a theme throughout the season."
It was the fewest points scored by Army in the series since 1991.
Dace and Williams will have another chance to beat Navy, but the seniors are done.
"We hear it all the time. The soldiers out there say, 'Did you beat Navy?' I'm going to have to say no," Chmura said. "It's not something I am going to look forward to."
Army took the opening kickoff and launched an impressive drive that included a successful fourth-and-1 gamble at the Navy 11. But on third down Corey Anderson dropped a pass in the end zone, and Owen Tolson missed a 28-yard field goal try.
Another misplay by the Army special teams set up the game's first score. A 23-yard punt into the wind gave Navy the ball near midfield, and four plays later Zerbin Singleton took off around end on a 38-yard touchdown run.
Tolson got Army to 7-3 with a 28-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but Campbell took the ensuing kickoff the distance. Campbell, who also returned a kickoff for a touchdown against North Texas, became the first Navy player to score twice on kickoff returns in a single season.
"Anytime you make a special teams play, it's a momentum changer unless they return that next kick," Campbell said.
Army took the kick to the 19, and on the next play Wesley McMahand lost a fumble at the 6. On third down, Shun White scored from the 1 to make it 21-3.