The Navy Midshipmen (10-2) beat the Army Black Knights (2-10) 21-17 for the fourteenth consecutive year in America's Game at Lincoln Financial Field.. Army opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal by Daniel Grochowski. It was set up by a 50-yard punt return by Army's Edgar Poe. The Mids answered two plays later with a 58-yard touchdown run by quarterback Keenan Reynolds. After both teams traded touchdowns the Black Knights took a 17-14 halftime lead after a late 39-yard touchdown pass from Chris Carter to Poe. It was the first time Army led Navy at the half since 2009. Navy defense shut down Army most of the third quarter as they ended three consecutive series with sacks. Navy took a 21-17 lead for good on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Reynolds to Jamir Tillman. Reynolds rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another score. Reynolds' second rushing TD was his 85th career score, the most for any FBS or FCS Division I player ever. With the victory, he became the first quarterback in the over the 116-game series to go 4-0 as a starter. The victory returns the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. to Annapolis. The Midshipmen have improved their lead in the all-time series to 60-49-7.
PASSING OFFENSE: C+
Keenan Reynolds completed 6-of-14 passes for 113 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Reynolds opened the game on fire as he completed his first four passes all to Jamir Tillman. His best throw as a laser to Tillman for a who made a nice catch on the sidelines despite an interference penalty by Army cornerback Chris Carnegie. Reynolds ended the first half with four incompletions in a row over the last two series. He was lucky not to be picked off on two of those passes Tillman was open on third- and- 10, but Reynolds throw was high and an out of bounds and Tillman had no chance to keep his feet in.
Keenan actually threw seven incompletions in a row at one point. Reynolds then hit a wide open Jamir Tillman (5 rec., 102 yds., TD) for a 50-yard touchdown. It should have been a penalty as Tyler Carmona picked Army rover Xavier Moss on the play. Reynolds hit Demond Brown for an 11-yard gain to open one series late in the fourth quarter that ended in a punt. Brown took a big hit from Moss and did a nice job holding on to the ball. Keenan's final pass was a 3rd-and-seven where he rolled out and overthrew both Tillman and Carmona who were in the same area at the goal line.
The Navy offensive line allowed no sacks and gave Reynolds time to throw. Reynolds didn't have a great day throwing but made the game-winning pass.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D
Navy's once again had trouble sustaining their rushing attack against Army's defense. The Mids ran for 199 yards and two scores. It was 131 rushing yards below Navy's season average. The Black Knights played the same way they have since Ellerson was the coach taking away the slotbacks and forcing Navy to grind it out between the tackles. Keenan Reynolds ran 21 times for 136 yards and scored twice. Keenan had two long runs to produce both scores. He made a great cut on a 58-yard touchdown run and scrambled for 35-yards to set up his other score. Reynolds'second rushing TD was his 85th career score, the most for any FBS or FCS Division I player ever.That is incredible. Besides those two big plays, the Midshipmen had just 2.7 yards a carry.
Navy B-back Chris Swain ran 15 times for 62 yards. Quentin Ezell carried twice for four yards. The slotbacks carried the ball just twice as Army took them out of the game.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
Navy's defense allowed Army to complete 9-of-18 passes for 208 passing yards with a touchdown and intercepted two passes. Rover Daiquan Thomasson (3 tackles, Int, PD) played one of his best games. He used his 38-inch vertical leap to break up a pass in the end zone on Army's opening drive to force a field goal. Late in the game, he made a heads-up play. He stayed home and picked off Army's option pass by wide receiver De Andre Bell near the goal line. Lorentez Barbour tied for the team lead with eight tackles and intercepted a pass. Barbour tackled DeAndre Bell short of the first down to force a huge missed field goal.
Brandon Clements (5 tackles, PD) broke up a pass and was a force against the run. He was beaten for a touchdown by Edgar Poe when he allowed him to get behind him on a crossing route. Cornerback Quincy Adams (5 tackles) looked like he tackled Poe short of the first down on one play, but Army earned a favorable spot. Will Anthony made 7 tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and created pressure all day. D.J. Palmore and Jarvis Polu each had sacks. Polu played well after replacing the injured Amos Mason. Navy's defensive line dominated Army up front in the third quarter.
RUSHING DEFENSE: A
The Mids allowed Army only 137 rushing yards, a 3.1 yards per carry average and one touchdown. Inside linebackers Dan Gonzalez tied for team lead with eight tackles and Micah Thomas, who posted four tackles, as the Mids shut down the Army fullbacks. Bernie Sarra tied up both A-gaps all game and made three tackles. The Black Knights will be glad to see Bernie graduate as he's dominated them in every game. Linebacker Josiah Powell dropped Carter for a two-yard loss to force a punt. Linebacker Ted Colburn made three tackles and recovered a key fumbled snap by Carter in the fourth quarter. Free safety Lorentez Barbour missed the tackle on Tyler Campbell's 29-yard touchdown run.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Kicker Austin Grebe kicked off four times and had two touchbacks. Punter Alex Barta averaged 42.6 yards on 11 punts. He blasted one punt 66 yards and made a clutch 50-yard punt after bobbling the snap on Navy's last possession. He placed two inside the twenty-yard line.
Dishan Romine nearly broke a 42-yard kickoff return. Not sure what has happened to Navy's coverage units the last month but they allowed a 50-yard punt return to Edgar Poe who won't remind anyone of Desmond Howard. Josh Walker made three special team tackles and ran down Poe on his long punt return.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said, “The defense played lights out. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. As a group, they played a really, really good football game. The turnovers were the key in the game. We couldn’t turn any of them into points, but to our defense’s credit, they kept playing hard.” Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was patient with Army lining up all 11 defenders within about five yards and mixing up their responsibilities.
Jasper tweaked the blocking assignment in a cat and mouse game with Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman. Jasper had the A-back block the Mike linebacker which gave Reynolds a running lane on his 58-yard touchdown run. Navy's offense was able to make three big plays to pull out the win. Defensive coordinator Dale Pehrson's defense dominated in the third quarter ending three straight Army series with sacks. In the fourth quarter his units produced three straight turnovers.
OVERALL GRADE: B
The Mids didn't play their best game but won for a record fourteenth consecutive year. Navy captured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the tenth time since 2003. Navy won ten games for just the fourth time in their history and for the second time under head coach Ken Niumatalolo. On to the bowl game and hopefully we don't lose coach Kenny to BYU.