Army-Navy Classics: 1992
If you examine the progression of the Army-Navy Game in the 122 years of its existence and the 113 meetings that have shaped it, you'll see that the bulk of each side's victories have come from periods of dominance more than gradual accumulations of scalps. In other words, this is not a series in which the teams trade wins and losses from year to year, with one academy winning five times and the other winning three. If one team wins five games in an eight-year span, it's because it won four straight after losing three out of four. That's primarily how the history of this series has unfolded.
Army did not lose in a five-game stretch from 1901 through 1905. Navy won five of six from 1906 through 1912 (with no game in 1909).
Army won four straight from 1913 through 1916. Navy won three in a row from 1919 through 1921.
Army did not lose in this series from 1922 through 1933. Navy hasn't lost in this series since 2001. The beat goes on and on. As one of baseball's most beloved and colorful figures, Casey Stengel, once said, "You could look it up."
Within this context of the Army-Navy Game, few periods in the history of the series were more delightful for Army than the five-year stretch from 1992 through 1996. In those five Army-Navy encounters, the Cadets (now the Black Knights) never blew away the Midshipmen. All five games were coin flips that careened toward the final minutes of regulation without a clear winner or leverage holder.
Army won all five of them by a COMBINED total of 10 points.
In 1996, Army won, 28-24. In 1995: 14-13. In 1994: 22-20. In 1993: 16-14. Yet, the game that initiated this strange streak of stomach punches for Navy was the 1992 contest in Veterans Stadium.
Navy stormed to a 24-7 lead, but Army – as it would manage to do throughout this streak, in much the same way that the New England Patriots always get off the mat in the second half, no matter the opponent – scored 15 points to pull within two, at 24-22. West Point then thought it had won in the final minute when kicker Patmon Malcolm drilled a 44-yard field goal right down the pike. However, if you watch the video from the ABC broadcast – which can be found on YouTube – you will see that the officials standing beneath the two goal posts immediately waved their arms back and forth, consistent with the signal for a dead ball, not a made field goal.
Delay of game, on the offense, five-yard penalty, repeat fourth down.
Malcolm kicked the perfect kick from 44 yards, and his reward for such a good deed was that he had to try a 49-yarder after his brain and body had already celebrated a triumphant moment. That quick psychological turnaround has ambushed thousands of athletes in the course of human history. Malcolm had to withstand it.
Malcolm's 49-yarder drifted a little closer to the left upright, but the kick was still well between the pipes with plenty of room to spare. The crushed pigskin gave Army a 25-24 win, enabling coach Bob Sutton to turn around his West Point career, which finished with a 6-3 record against Navy. Beleaguered Navy coach George Chaump – whose level of luck against Army could accurately be termed as "piano falling from the sky luck" – had his guts ripped out again in 1993 and 1994. By 1995, he was gone.
Malcolm talked about his experience in 1992 to Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article from December 6, 2012:
I don't know if you would call it scared. In the moment, you don't realize how big it is. It was my job. That's what I did. I kicked field goals. That's what you're trained for. In the moment, you aren't really thinking about being scared. You are thinking about, "How am I going to make this?" instead of being scared… For me, 90-180 seconds I was thinking about where my plant foot is going to be, have good leg lock and keep my head down. If you do that, everything takes care of itself.
When asked about the significance of the kick, Malcolm offered this textured comment:
It changed elements of my life. I would say that. When you asked if I was scared ahead of time, that's what you don't realize in the moment. That's what the kickers, if they are put in that situation … it could change their lives. I didn't realize the impact. It can also affect your career. The difference in going and playing for an SEC school or ACC school, everyone from that school goes off into a hundred thousand directions. You can still keep up with each other with social media, but it's not like Army or Navy where every single person is going into the military and you will interact them for at least the next five years. To be known as the guy that made the kick, instead of the guy that missed the kick, that makes for a much better life.
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