12/4/2004 - Football
Football Finishes Regular Season 9-2 with 42-13 Win Over Army
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Senior quarterback Aaron Polanco threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in Navy's 42-13 win over Army Saturday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- All that was missing from the patriotic fervor of the traditional rivalry between Army and Navy was competition.
Aaron Polanco threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading Navy to a 42-13 victory over Army on Saturday in the 105th meeting between the service academies.
President Bush attended the game for the first time since 2001 at Veterans Stadium, taking part in the coin toss by flipping a commemorative coin sent from the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
Bowl-bound Navy (9-2) hadn't won nine games since Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach quarterbacked the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record in 1963.
Navy has won five of the last six meetings to tie the overall series at 49-49-7. The Midshipmen have outscored Army 134-31 in the last three games.
Kyle Eckel had a career-high 179 yards rushing and a TD for Navy. Carlton Jones ran for 98 yards and Zac Dahman threw two TDs for Army (2-9).
One of the most storied rivalries in college sports, the game was even more significant this year because of the ongoing war in Iraq. A moment of silence was held before the game for all deployed military forces.
About one dozen parachuters descended onto the field, with one member from the Army's Golden Knights and another from the Navy's Leapfrogs delighting the sellout crowd of 67,882 at Lincoln Financial Field by landing at midfield.
Four fighter jets and seven helicopter gunships roared over the stadium just before Bush walked out to midfield for the coin toss. Earlier, Bush spoke to both teams in their locker rooms and later took a picture with both cheerleading squads.
After a scoreless first quarter, Navy found the end zone twice in the next four minutes.
Polanco's 10-yard TD run gave the Midshipmen a 7-0 lead. A 44-yard run by Eric Roberts gave Navy a first down at Army's 22. Two plays later, Polanco ran in for his 13th rushing TD this season.
After Army went three-and-out, Navy took over at its 47. One play after Polanco completed a 6-yarder to Jason Tomlinson on a fourth-and-5, Eckel burst up the middle for a 23-yard TD run to make it 14-0.
Josh Smith returned an interception 67 yards, giving Navy a 21-0 lead later in the second quarter. Dahman eluded a sack, started to scramble, stopped and tossed the ball into Smith's hands.
After a 12-yard TD pass from Polanco to Mick Yokitis put Navy ahead 28-0, Dahman connected with Jeremy Trimble for a 6-yard TD pass to make it 28-7 in the final minute of the first half.
Polanco tossed a 9-yard TD pass to Roberts in the third quarter. Dahman threw an 8-yard TD pass to Aaron Alexander in the fourth. Lamar Owens capped the scoring with a 17-yard TD run.
Despite finishing with a loss, Army took strides toward rebuilding its program under first-year coach Bobby Ross. The Black Knights snapped a 19-game losing streak and won consecutive games for the first time since 1997.
Last year, Army suffered the ignominy of being the first Division I-A team to finish 0-13, and it hasn't had a winning season since 1996. The Black Knights return next year to independent status after seven dreadful seasons in Conference USA. They are a woeful 6-41 over the last four seasons.
Meanwhile, Navy is heading to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 30 after winning the Commander-In-Chief's trophy outright for the second consecutive year.