By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Philadelphia, PA — All the players are winners no matter what happened in the game.
In the 109th meeting between the Army and Navy service academies, unfortunately, there had to be a loser in the game. Army hasn’t come out on top in the game in the past 7-years, a streak of Navy wins that dates back to 2001.
And this was much of the same case yesterday afternoon, when Navy beat Army, 34-0, at Lincoln Financial Field.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo became just the second Navy coach to win the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy in his first year since George Welsh in 1973. President George W. Bush was also in attendance for the first time in 5-years.
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“I couldn’t be more proud of our seniors,” Niumatalolo said. “Obviously to play our rivals and shut them out — to get a win like that in the most important game of the season — its definitely a tribute to our seniors, as our seniors, lead the way. I want to give Army a lot of credit, as I have the utmost respect for coach (Stan) Brock, Army, the program, and all that they stand for. We know what those guys go through, as they do the same things that we do.
“Besides football, we play this game to beat each other’s brain’s in and after its all said and done, we know that we’ll be standing shoulder-to-shoulder to serve our country. It’s a great job on both sides and we were lucky enough to come out with a victory.”
This is the first Navy shutout in the game since 1978 when the teams played at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Navy won that game 28-0.
“No, these games are hard-fought, regardless of the scores or the records,” Niumatalolo said. “You throw all of that stuff out the window. My first game was in 1995 and they’ve all been hard-fought games. That does not surprise me.”
Navy improved to 8-5 overall on the season. Army fell to 3-9 overall on the season.
Navy will be playing in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on December 20th at 11 am on ESPN. Army will not be going to a Bowl Game.
“The Bowl Game’s gravy,” Niumatalolo said. “That’s for fun. We wanted to make sure that we left everything out on the field. This is our No. 1 game, but we’re going to enjoy ourselves at the Bowl Game and whatever festivities that they might have. But this means everything to us.”
Navy junior outside linebacker Ram Vela capped off the Navy win with just seconds left in the game. Vela intercepted Army sophomore quarterback Chip Bowden with 31 seconds left in the game.
Vela would rush 68-yards down the left side of the field for the first defensive touchdown in the game.
“It’s an improvement,” Navy junior nose guard Nate Frazier said. “But at the same time, we’ve been catching breaks. Last year, a lot of the balls weren’t going our way. And this year, with some of the same guys, we played a little bit harder and kept fighting.”
Navy senior kicker Matt Harmon would also add a 36-yard field goal nearly 4 minutes into the quarter. It would be his second field goal in the game.
Navy senior fullback Eric Kettani scored the only points in the third quarter. It was a 14-play, 72-yard drive that took 7 minutes and 57 seconds off the clock.
Kettani and senior slotback Shun White both surpassed the 100-yard mark in the game. It was the first time all season that they both accomplished this feat.
White had 148 yards on 13 carries, while Kettani had 125 yards on 24 carries.
White is the first Navy slot back to surpass 1,000 yards in a season since 2004. Current Eagles fullback Kyle Eckel was the last Navy slot back to surpass 1,000 yards in a season.
Navy had 368 rushing yards in the game and only 62 passing yards. Army had 102 rushing yards and only 52 passing yards.
Army senior running back Collin Mooney broke the Army all-time rushing record, with 1,039 yards.
Navy senior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada threw his only touchdown pass in the game in the second quarter. Kaheaku-Enhada found White, who was wide-open, for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
It was a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took 5 minutes and 40 seconds off the clock.
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“Execution,” White said. “That’s a big thing that coach harps on at practice. If everybody executes during practice, I don’t think the offense can be stopped.”
Harmon would add a 23-yard field goal with less than 3 minutes left in the first quarter. It was an 8-play, 79-yard drive that took 4 minutes and 5 seconds off the clock.
White opened up the scoring in the first quarter with just three minutes into the game. After two plays, White broke loose and scored a 65-yard touchdown.
“He just settled us down,” Niumatalolo said. “I think both sides were tight, and there’s so much into it. When you go to Navy, the first thing you say is, ‘Go Navy beat Army!’ And so there’s so much into it, and I think that settled things down and made it a football game. After all the balloons, fireworks, and the President comes out, it’s still a football game.”
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