Commander-In-Chief's Classics: Army's Moment
Of the 41 titles handed out in the history of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, Army has been able to lay claim to only six outright championships, placing West Point third among the service academies. For that reason, finding a classic win for the Black Knights in the CIC series is simultaneously more difficult… and more rewarding. There aren't as many epic moments to choose from, but the ones the Black Knights forged stand out in the public memory. In a 1992 classic at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia – the longtime site of this game before Lincoln Financial Field became this game's (and the Philadelphia Eagles') new home on most occasions – the Black Knights saved some magic for the final seconds in order to escape with the victory over their archrival from Annapolis.
Despite the fact that Navy entered the 1992 Army-Navy Game with a record of only 1-9, the Midshipmen raced out to a 24-7 lead and appeared primed to win their second straight game and their third in four years against Army. With a 4-6 record entering the contest, Army wasn't going bowling in 1992. Moreover, with Air Force winning both games against Army and Navy, this game was not being played for a piece of CIC hardware. However, beating Navy will always be its own substantial reward for Army, regardless of other circumstances, and the Black Knights – then known as the Cadets - finished their ‘92 season on a perfect note.
Army raced back with 15 points to trim its deficit to two, at 24-22, midway through the fourth quarter, setting up the final dramatic moments of a Saturday that will endure in West Point lore. The Black Knights began their final drive on Navy's 33-yard line, just a first down away from a very manageable field goal and a shot at victory. After only getting to the 27, Army lined up for a game-winning 44-yard field goal attempt that was anything but a gimmie, and the surging optimism that burst forth a few minutes earlier was tempered by the realization that a missed field goal would leave Army's season in tatters. However, when placekicker Patmon Malcolm answered the call and drilled that 44-yarder through the uprights, it appeared Army had completed the improbable comeback. Sweet victory had finally arrived in the most exhilarating way imaginable.
Or so the Cadets thought.
A delay of game penalty pushed Army back five yards and made a tough 44-yarder an even more daunting 49-yard try. If the pendulum swing of emotions had been intense when Navy stopped Army to force that 44-yard kick, preventing the Cadets from being able to kick a chip shot for a comparatively easier win, the emotional whiplash at "The Vet" was even more severe following Army's penalty. It was as though every single obstacle to victory would turn The Long Gray Line into the long gloomy line of dejected cadets at game's end. The worst-case scenario – of victory not just denied, but pulled away after its taste had been sampled – was all too real.
Patmon Malcolm would have none of that.
Army's kicker flashed the cold blooded nerves needed to follow up the prior make with a 49-yard dagger to give Army a 25-24 victory. The steely display of excellence in crunch time only made Army's triumph that much sweeter. The victory would kick start a five-game winning streak for Army over the Naval Academy in the 1990s. Interestingly enough, placekicking acquired an unusually large level of importance in that stretch of the Army-Navy Game, and West Point regularly owned the better boots on the ground… and in the air.
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