Midshipmen Victorious, Defeat Army 26-14
Navy back Reggie Campbell (7) scores on a 9-yard run as Army linebacker Charlie Rockwood (45) watches in the first quarter Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo)
Dec. 2, 2006
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Commander-in-Chief's Trophy is staying docked with Navy.
While Army and Navy played a mostly competitive game in this increasingly lopsided rivalry, the result was still the same and the Midshipmen are again the class of the service academies.
Keenan Little returned an interception 40 yards for a TD late in the fourth for bowl-bound Navy (9-3). The Midshipmen equaled their longest winning streak in the series, matching a pair of five-game winning streaks, most recently from 1959-1963. Navy has outscored the Black Knights by a 202-68 margin the last five years and boosted its overall series lead to 51-49-7.
Navy captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the football competition between the three major service academies, for the fourth straight year.
The win also made Navy's senior class the first in team history to finish 8-0 - yup, an appropriate clean sweep - against Army and Air Force. This was a win that would be savored from the ol' gridiron to "Old Ironsides."
Trying to force at least a share of the CIC trophy for the first time since 1996, the Black Knights (3-9) instead ended the season on a six-game losing streak under coach Bobby Ross. Jeremy Trible ran for a touchdown and tight end Tim Dunn caught a TD pass with 2 seconds left.
Navy needed little production from quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada - he didn't complete his first pass until 10 seconds left in the third period - to win their fourth straight game. Next for the Midshipmen is the Meineke Bowl against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference on Dec. 30.
Navy, though, will play without leading rusher Adam Ballard after he broke his right leg in the first quarter. Ballard finished with 792 yards rushing this season and three TDs.
The Midshipmen broke the game open in the fourth after Little picked off a Carson Williams pass and scored and linebacker Tyler Tidwell sacked Williams for Navy's first safety since 1999.
This might be the only regular-season game for any Division I team where a win means more than any bowl game ever could. With fighter jets roaring over Lincoln Financial Field before kickoff, and cadets and mids standing, bouncing and cheering the entire game, it was clear how much this patriotic rivalry means to both sides.
Too bad Army hasn't had much chance to enjoy it of late.
Kaheaku-Enhada gave Navy a clutch first down on the go-ahead drive in the third quarter when he gained 2 yards on a fourth-and-1. Two plays later, Tomlinson took the pitch on an end-around, sprinted down the left sideline and just dipped his feet in the end zone before he was pushed out for a 14-7 lead.
Tomlinson was chosen MVP.
Army had a chance to tie it late in the third quarter with a strong drive, kept alive by a sensational diving, over-the-middle 16-yard catch by Walter Hill. Mike Viti's 10-yard run pushed the ball to the 18, but a couple of running plays went nowhere and Austin Miller missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt.
Army never really threatened again and limped toward its 10th straight losing season.
For a drive, at least, the Black Knights made it seem possible it could finally kick some rear admiral. Trimble gave Army a 7-0 lead with a 41-yard touchdown run off a double reverse, putting the Midshipmen in the hole for the first time since the first quarter of the Nov. 4 Duke game.
But Campbell's 9-yard TD run tied the score late in the first, giving him another Army-Navy score to pair with the 54-yard run he ripped off in last season's win.
Matt Harmon kicked a 35-yard field goal in the fourth to make it 17-7.
The Black Knights won six of seven from 1992-98 and led the overall record by four games. But since Paul Johnson was named Navy's coach in 2002, the Midshipmen have controlled the series and returned to the national spotlight for more than one game a season.