PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Army West Point football team captured a thrilling 14-13 victory over service-academy rival Navy in the 118th installment of the Army Navy Game, on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
With the win, Army secured the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 1996.
The game came down to a nail-biting 48-yard field goal try from Navy with three seconds left to play. But the Mids’ kick sailed wide left sparking chaos on the Army sidelines.
The Black Knights defeated Navy for the second-consecutive season and did so with a late fourth-quarter score by quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. The senior led the charge with a team-best 94 rushing yards and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Darnell Woolfolk followed with 57 yards on the ground on 12 carries with a score as well.
On the defensive side, James Nachtigal tallied a team-high 11 tackles, while Alex Aukerman finished with 10. James Gibson and Cole Christiansen combined for 18 with nine apiece.
The historic rivalry between the two service academies featured 95 rushes and just three passes with both quarterbacks combining for 51 carries and 344 yards.
On the opening drive of the game, Army converted on third down on its own side of the field when Kell Walker broke off a 33-yard run down the right sideline, placing Army on the Navy 25. Edging their way closer to the end zone, the Black Knights found themselves with a 4th-and-1 situation on the Navy 4.
Once again the Cadets handed it off to Walker, who picked up the key first down. Woolfolk then received the next handoff and powered his way up the middle for the three-yard score to give Army the early advantage.
Navy looked to counter Army’s opening drive with a score of its own and leaned heavily on Malcolm Perry. The quarterback compiled 54 yards on the drive. Despite, picking up a first down on a 4th-and-1 on the Black Knight 20, Navy was limited to a 28-yard field goal that trimmed the deficit to four, at 7-3.
After forcing Army to punt on its second drive of the game, the Midshipmen regained possession and, on 3rd-and-4 from the Mids own 32, Perry dashed down the field for a 68-yard score to give Navy the slim lead.
The two sides combined for five additional drives throughout the half, but neither were able to find the end zone and the two teams went into the break with Navy still holding a 10-7 edge.
The Midshipmen started the second half with the ball and once again relied heavily on Perry.
From their own 23, the sophomore carried the ball on three of the team’s first four plays before breaking off a 46-yard run down the field. He was on his way into the end zone, but John Voit chased him down and made a diving stop to trip him up and prevent the score.
That long rush brought the Midshipmen into the red zone, however, the Army defense held its ground and Navy was only able to manufacture a field goal to go ahead 13-7.
Army got the ball back on its own 20 and was looking at a 3rd-and-7 when Bradshaw dropped back and threw up a pass to Calen Holt 20 yards down the field to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Bradshaw scampered 21 yards to the Navy 34. The Black Knights rushed the ball eight additional times for 21 yards before being forced to attempt a 35-yard field goal that sailed wide right.
The Black Knights’ defense came back onto the field and forced a three-and-out, giving Army possession of the ball with 12:50 left to play in the game. Bradshaw broke off three straight runs for a combined 33 yards, putting the team in Navy territory. Army continued to ground and pound its way further down the field. With the ball inside the Navy 10, John Trainor received the pitch from Bradshaw and tip toed the sideline before being knocked out at the one. Bradshaw then kept the ball on the ensuing play and pushed through the pile up the middle for the score to put Army back on top, 14-13.
Trailing for the first time since early in the first quarter, Navy eyed one final possession with 5:10 remaining on the clock. Nick Schrage’s kick went out of bounds on the kickoff and the Midshipmen started with the ball on their own 35. Perry carried the ball eight times and brought his team to the Army 25. However, a pair of false starts backed Navy up 10 yards.
Perry rushed one final time with seconds remaining in hopes to get a shorter field goal try, but Nachtigal made the stop to prevent any gain.
With three seconds left to play, Navy called its final timeout, setting up a 48-yard field goal attempt. Moehring, who previously made one from that distance earlier this season against Temple, lined up for the kick, but it went wide left and Army secured the one-point win.
Up next, Army will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 23 for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to square off against San Diego State at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.