Army Navy Game: Army Puts Up A Fight, But Navy Wins Ninth Straight In Series, 31-17

The 111th edition of the Army-Navy Game was more competitive than editions 108-110, but Navy got its ninth straight win in the series, defeating Army 31-17.

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Army Navy Game: Navy Beats Army! But Its Much More Than A Game

Navy's victory over Army today didn't mean much in the college football standings. Both teams' postseasons have already been determined. Navy is playing in the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State and Army will face SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl.

But it meant a whole lot more to a whole lot of people. The Army-Navy game is one of the greatest traditions in all of sports.

As Ben Kercheval of College Football Talk writes, this is much more than just another lopsided win in a lopsided series.

Never mind that Navy’s 31-17 win over Army today put the Midshipmen at a 9-game winning streak in the series. The event itself is such a large part of our country’s heart and soul that, in many ways, it’s more than just a game. Chants of “Beat Army!” and “Beat Navy!” are timeless in nature. The stories of fallen heroes who played in the game remind us so much of what has been sacrificed to keep our nation what it is.

The singing of the alma maters after the game is enough to give you goosebumps.

True, true. Seeing the two teams stand together following the game is one of the greatest visuals you'll see at a sporting event. Kind of puts it all in perspective.

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Army Navy Game: Navy Wins 31-17 For Ninth Straight Win In The Series

Army put up much more of a fight than usual in the 111th edition of the Army Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia this afternoon. In the end, though, Navy was too good.

Riding a momentum-changing fumble recovery, Navy won their ninth straight game in the historic series, defeating the Black Knights 31-17. The Midshipmen took a 17-0 lead and never trailed in the contest.

However, Army did look to be stealing the momentum of the game in the second quarter. They trailed 17-7 and were on Navy's goal line looking to cut the lead to 17-14. They would receive the ball first in the second half, giving them a chance to rally and take the lead. Instead, Trent Steelman fumbled on top of a pile and Navy's Wyatt Middleton ran it back for a 98-yard touchdown to give Navy a 24-7 lead. The Midshipmen were never seriously threatened after that.

Ricky Dobbs was very solid for Navy, throwing for 186 yards and two touchdowns, though he did have an interception and two fumbles. Steelman threw for 128 yards and two touchdowns to Malcolm Brown to lead the way for Army.

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Army Navy Game: Malcolm Brown Catches Second Touchdown, Cuts Navy's Lead To 31-17

Well, hold the phone. Maybe Army has a small chance to make an improbable rally in the 111th edition of the Army Navy Game. Malcolm Brown, who got Army's first touchdown in the series in four years earlier in this game, caught another touchdown pass, this one from 45 yards, to cut Navy's lead to 31-17. Unfortunately for Army, they were unable to recover the onside kick, meaning Navy will take over with four minutes left to go in the game.

The play occurred just a couple plays after Navy lost Wyatt Middleton to an injury. Middleton limped off the field, and Brown was able to run right past his replacement for the touchdown. Trent Steelman, who missed an Army receiver deep earlier in the game, found Brown this time, and Brown easily took it to the house for the score.

Army needs a miracle to somehow win this game, but regardless, they should feel proud about the fact that they competed against Navy for the first time in years.

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Army Navy Game: Gee Gee Greene Seals It For Navy With 25-Yard Touchdown

There wasn't much doubt that Navy would defeat Army as the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, but Gee Gee Greene just sealed it. Greene took a pitch from Ricky Dobbs and raced outside for an easy 25-yard touchdown, giving Navy a 31-10 lead in the 110th Army-Navy Game.

The run punctuated a game-clinching drive that killed nine minutes and three seconds off the clock. Twelve of those 13 plays were rushing yards, as Navy used their ground prowess to kill clock. After showing off their deep passing game earlier, the drive had to be demoralizing for Army. Ricky Dobbs and Alexander Teich did the heavy lifting inside, allowing Greene to burst outside for the score.

With a three-touchdown deficit and only a little bit of time left in the fourth quarter, you can probably close the book on any Army comeback. Ever since Wyatt Middleton's 98-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, Navy has dominated the game. Army can take solace in the fact that they got a touchdown for the first time in four years.

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Army Navy Game: Army Gets Long Field Goal To Cut Lead To 24-10

The good news for Army is that they got points on their first drive of the second half of the 111th Army-Navy Game. The bad news is that it was a field goal.

But at least it went in. Alex Carlton was faced with nailing a difficult 42-yard field goal, but it went through, cutting Navy's lead to 24-10. That's good for Army, who desperately needed some positive momentum after such a bad close to the half.

That said, it could have been even better. Army was marching down the field and was inside the red zone, but quarterback Trent Steelman took a very bad sack on second down, losing 10 yards. Army had no choice but to run a conservative play on third and 22, and luckily, they were at least able to get three points out of a 12-play drive.

Navy now has the ball looking to continue to pour it on. They have not been particularly proficient offensively, but they've done enough to take a 24-10 lead.

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Army Navy Game: Navy Takes 24-7 Lead On 98-Yard Fumble Return

It looked like Army was truly going to get back into the game in the 111th edition of the Army-Navy Game. They capitalized on another Navy fumble, driving all the way down to the Navy three-yard line. But then, disaster struck.

While trying to fight for the end zone, Army quarterback Trent Steelman lost the football on top of a pile. Wyatt Middleton recovered on top of the pile and took it back 98 yards for an improbable touchdown for the Midshipmen. Navy now leads 24-7 and has stolen all the momentum Army seemed to have.

The difficult part for Army is that they did their job on the drive. They methodically moved it up the field on the ground, converting a fourth and 1 at one point to keep the drive alive. Had they scored, Army would have cut the lead to 17-14 and had the ball at the beginning of the second half. Instead, they now trail 24-7, despite forcing two Navy turnovers on fumbles. That has to sting.

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Army Navy Game: After Fumble, Malcolm Brown Gives Army Its First Touchdown In Four Years

Army needed something to go right if they wanted to get back into the game in the 111th edition of the Army-Navy Game. Luckily, they got a little bit of a break. After Navy's Ricky Dobbs fumbled the ball trying to hand it off to his running back, Army got the ball on the Navy 23-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Trent Steelman found Malcolm Brown wide open in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown, cutting Navy's lead to 17-7.

The fumble happened during a routine exchange. It's not the first time Navy has messed up the handoff to the running back in this game, which is kind of shocking. Nevertheless, they nearly kept Army out of the end zone. The Midshipmen forced two third downs, one a third and one from the 14-yard line and the other a third and two from the five. But both times, Army was able to do enough to pick up the first down, scoring a touchdown on the latter play.

It's the first time Army has even gotten into the end zone in this game since 2006. Naturally, the Army sidelines went crazy after it happened, in a truly wonderful moment. We now have a ballgame folks .

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Army Navy Game: Navy Takes 17-0 Lead On Brandon Turner's 32-Yard Touchdown Catch

Both teams have done a good enough job of shutting each other's running game down in the 111th edition of the Army-Navy Game. One team has been able to pass the ball. The other has not.

That one team is Navy. After completing a 77-yard touchdown earlier in the game, Ricky Dobbs added a second, throwing a beautiful 32-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon Turner to give Navy a 17-0 lead. Army actually covered the play pretty well, but Dobbs threw a strike to Turner, sneaking it between the coverage to get the touchdown. It's why Dobbs was considered a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate before the season.

Navy was able to move the ball well on the drive. Aaron Santiago had a 23-yard catch and run on the drive, and Alexander Teich had a 15-yard run as well. But it was Dobbs who made the biggest play on the drive.

Army had a chance to get a touchdown, but a long pass was overthrown by two yards. That has been the difference in this game thus far.

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Army Navy Game: John Howell Catches 77-Yard Touchdown To Give Navy A 10-0 Lead

We think of the Army-Navy Game as one that features a lot of running with the triple option. However, thus far, Ricky Dobbs and Navy have been able to beat Army with the passing game. That happened again on that last drive, as Dobbs completed a 77-yard bomb to John Howell to give Navy a 10-0 lead.

The route was really a simple fly pattern. On second and six, Dobbs and Navy called timeout to set up the play. Howell ran a straight route from the right side to the left side and just outran the Army defenders. Dobbs had plenty of time and showed off his remarkable arm in putting the ball right on the money. Howell was able to pull it in and outrun two Army defenders to get the touchdown.

The play showed off the biggest difference in the two teams. One is a running team only. The other, with a guy that was a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate before the season, is fully capable of beating you over the top in the passing game. Navy has come out throwing, and Army hasn't been able to adjust.

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Army Navy Game: Navy Gets On Board First With Field Goal After Sloppy Beginning

The Army-Navy Game began erratically for both teams. Navy's Ricky Dobbs fumbled on the second Navy play of the game, and Army's Jared Hassin followed suit on Army's second play. But eventually, the Midshipmen settled down, driving down the field for a 36-yard field goal by Joe Buckley to take a 3-0 lead.

After the fumbles, Navy got the ball at their own 47-yard line. They wasted no time making a big play, as Dobbs completed a 36-yard pass and run to Aaron Santiago that brought the ball down to the Navy 22-yard line. However, the drive stalled there. After a three-yard run on first down by Alexander Teich, Dobbs through two incomplete passes, one to Gee Gee Greene on second down in the end zone on a ball that Dobbs threw too low, and one to Teich on third down. That forced Navy to settle for the 36-yard field goal.

Army got the ball back, but immediately went three and out and had to punt the ball to Navy. Navy has the ball now on their own 19-yard line.

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Army Navy Game: College Football Odds Favor Navy, But Not Overwhelmingly

In the past, the Army-Navy Game has usually been very lopsided in favor of the Midshipmen. However, Army has improved tremendously this year, making this a game between two bowl teams for the first time in a while. 

The early line reflects that. While Navy has outscored Army by an 89-6 margin in the last three games of the series, they aren't favored by an overwhelming amount. According to the latest odds on SBNation.com, the Midshipmen are favored by seven points. Here's how they break down:

 

  • Opening: Navy by 7.5
  • 5Dimes.com: Navy by 7.5
  • Bodog: Navy by eight
The fact that the game is being played in Philadelphia surely has something to do with the lines. Surely, the Midshipmen have been favored by much more in previous contests.

Here are the over/under lines:

  • Opening: 56.5-110
  • 5Dimes.com: 52.5-105
  • Bodog: 54-115
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Army Navy Game: Army Poses Much Greater Challenge Than In Year's Past

Over the past three years, the only intrigue with the Army-Navy Game is figuring out just how dominant Navy would be. The Midshipmen have won eight straight games in this contest, and their last three wins have come by a combined 89-6 margin. Lots of this has to do with Navy's recent success under Ken Niumatalolo.

But this year is different. In the past, Army has been a very bad team, but not in 2010. Army has surprised the football world, going 6-5 on their way to the Armed Forces Bowl. They rank ninth in the nation in rushing and 12th in turnover margin. Sure, none of their wins have been against particularly impressive competition, but this is still a greater challenge for Navy, one that Niumatolo stressed to his team.

Via Gene Wang of the Washington Post:

"This is a new year, a new team," Niumatalolo said of the Black Knights. "They're bowl eligible. We know they're much better. Their seniors want to go out on top, too, so anytime we play a service academy, you throw out your record, you throw out anything prior to that game and just get ready for the [game]. That's all that's going to matter."    

It'll be interesting to see whether Navy's seniors, who are so used to dominating Army, will come out strong again or whether Army's resurgence will surprise them.

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Army Navy Game: SB Nation Previews A Game That Will Be Won On The Ground

We have an excellent College Football staff over at SB Nation.com that cover anything and everything NCAA pigskin. They're all over this weekend's Army Navy Game, and have posted a pretty good preview of the game. It confirms what we already suspected, this game will be won on the ground.

Hard not to love these stat sheets: Navy's rushing offense is the nation's 5th-best, its passing game 118th. Army's ground game is No. 9; its aerial attack No. 120. Dual-threat quarterback Ricky Dobbs made it through the season without being grievously injured, which is a big deal for a Navy quarterback, playing in 10 of 11 games, and the Mids haven't played a down of competition since November 20, so you know they're poppin' fresh. Navy's favorite target for the ball besides Dobbs himself is running back Alexander Teich, but if the battle goes ill, they can turn to his arm if they must: In two games this season (Louisiana Tech and Duke), Dobbs has rolled up 200 passing yards or more. Only in two other games this season did he crack the 100-yard mark. If Navy does take to the air, receiver Greg Jones will be the guy to watch.

For Army's part, the Knights hold an unassailable stranglehold on the All-Name quarterback position with TRENT STEELMAN (must always be written in all caps) behind center. The key matchup on this side of the ball will focus on he and fullback Jared Hassin against killer Mids linebacker Tyler Simmons.

If you like knock-down, drag-out, leather-helmet-wearing football played the way that the creators intended, you'll love this game. They might go the entire course of the game without attempting a single forward pass. It will be like watching Leatherheads, except without having to overcome the hurdle of buying George Clooney as an old timey football player.

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Army Navy Game: This One Is About More Than Just Football

This is one of those games that means more than just the football being played on the field. Each year Army and Navy meet, and it gives everyone in American the opportunity appreciate and honor what the Armed Forces do for us in a totally unique way. This year, the game takes place on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and will kick off at 2:40 p.m. You can watch the game on CBS.

The Naval Academy has actually won the last eight Army Navy games, and has outscored Army 89-6 over the last three contests.  this year's game could actually be pretty close. Army enters the game with a 6-5 record, while Navy is a two games better at 8-3. The Naval Academy is still expected to win behind their all everything quarterback Ricky Dobbs however.

We'll have updates and news about this game in this StoryStream as they become available.

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