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Navy blasts Army, 42-23
Philadelphia, PA - For the fourth year in a row, Navy (7-4) dominated Army (4-7) in both teams' traditional season finales to gain a 50-49-7 lead in the classic rivalry. Army, riding a four-game winning streak, was still no match for its respected rival who took a 35-10 lead midway through the third period. Navy FB Adam Ballard rushed for 199 yards and 2 TDs, and QB Lamar Owens ran an efficient option for 99 more and three TDs to demoralize an improved Army team. The Cadets doubled their win total of 2004 in 2005 after a record-setting 13- loss season in 2003. Navy, winner of The Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the third year in a row, will play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, CA on December 22 against Colorado State (6-5). It will be the third bowl game in three years for the Midshipmen, the first time in team history. Collegefootballfan.com met with several friends at the New Deck Tavern close to Franklin Field on the Penn campus for an "indoor tailgate", and from there took the subway to Lincoln Financial Field. The cold temperatures in Philly after the sun went down were too much for some of the Guest Game Analysts (GGAs) to withstand, so we headed back to the warm confines of the New Deck late in the third period, but not until after Navy had the game well in hand, 35-10. For CFF.com, it looks as if we've seen our last game of 2005. The 17 games seen this season come up one short of our record of 18 games attended in 2002.
Army looked competitive through the first period as it tool a 3-0 lead on PK Justin Koenig's 32-yard FG with :26 left in the frame. Navy turned the ball over on downs in Army territory early in the quarter, and an Army punt put the Mids back on their own one. In an unusual sequence, Navy Coach Paul Johnson called time-out with fourth and one from their own ten as the Mids planned to go for the first down close to their won goal line. They returned after the timeout to go for it, but not only the offense, but the punting unit took the field at the same time. With the confusion, Navy was penalized five yards and punted the ball away, giving Army the ball on the Navy 36 which eventually put the Cadets in position for the 3-point lead.
Navy responded on its very next possession as Owens lateraled to RB Reggi Campbell on the option before being tackled and Campbell beat the Army defense for a 54-yard TD jaunt. Joey Bullen's PAT put Navy up, 7-3. In the first half, Army had great success on third down conversions. On most third downs, Army receivers would run out patterns to the chains to get enough for each first down. The receivers were wide-open on almost every occasion. On the ensuing drive, QB Zac Dahman finally went long over the middle to connect with wide open WR Jeremy Trimble for a 30-yard TD pass. Army seemed ready to challenge the Mids after three seasons of being outscored by Navy, 134-31. Starting from their own 17, Navy countered with a long TD drive with Owens running the option with Marco Nelson as his primary option back. Owens broke loose for the final 28 yards for a TD to re-take the lead for Navy, 14-10. The Navy defense held Army on the next series. Owens led his team back on a 66-yard drive in only one minute and five seconds with the aid of two passes mixed in with the option. He took it in from 1 for a 21-10 halftime lead.
The Army Band paid tribute to 18 Army graduates who became Astronauts in our Space Program. The big screen showed impressive film footage from clips in space and showed the many West Point graduates who have participated over the years. Many of them marched on to the field, and graduates "Buzz" Aldrin, Al Worden, and Frank Borman all spoke to the sell-out crowd, though with the sun setting, many began to leave the stadium for good because of the bone-chilling temperatures settling in at Philadelphia.
Navy's offense started off "hot" despite the drop in temperature. After forcing an Amy punt, FB Adam Ballard became the key cog in the Navy "O" as he picked up 64 yards on four carries with 28 on a TD run as the offensive line opened up huge holes for big gains. Navy was up, 28-10, and Army couldn't counter. Navy put together another TD drive on the next possession on a 55-yard drive that lasted about four and a half minutes. With 3:13 left in Q3, Owens took it in for a one-yard TD and a dominant 35-10 lead. The temps dropped, and beers and burgers at the New Deck sounded like a great option to watching the Mids finish off an overwhelmed Army. As we left Lincoln Financial and walked toward the Pattison subway station, we saw fireworks set off from the rooftop once again. Army scored before the period ended on and 18-yard pass from Dahman to Carlton Jones, who Navy stifled on the ground during most of the game. Army's top runner was held to 80 yards on 22 carries. Q3 ended with Navy in the lead, 35-17.
Ballard's 67-yard run started the final period for another Navy score to extend the lead 42-17. Army managed one more TD in the final two minutes with Dahman throwing to Trimble again for a 19-yard scoring play. Navy ran out the clock to seal the win. In a ceremony before the game, where the schools exchange their students studying at the opposing academy for a semester, the Navy exchange students' wore placards with a message predicted before the game - Navy was "First to 50" - and they were right.
Extra Points - The winds were too strong before the game to allow the Navy "Leap Frogs" and Army "Golden Knights" to parachute into the game. Game balls were delivered, however, by Army and Navy contingents who ran the entire distances from West Point and Annapolis into Philadelphia. Six Army Apache helicopters flew over Lincoln after Navy checkmates performed a flyover which we on the eastern side of the stadium could not see.
The subway rides in were uncrowded and quick to the Stadium, but more crowded, slower and smellier on the way back. GGA Steve Ciesla worried about a young female fan in tight quarters who seemed about ready to be sick. He and she survived the trek.
Around the Penn campus, parking was tighter than what we experienced before as a parking lot on Chestnut Street is now a construction site. There was also a basketball double header taking place at the Palestra nearby. We saw students and cheerleaders from Drexel waking from their adjacent campus to see their team face LaSalle. Temple played Penn in the second game.
The New Deck was the perfect place before and after the game as we had beers and burgers with Rich and Laurie Williams, their friends Jeff and Jen, and Laurie's parent Bud and Emily. Rich said Lincoln had the coldest beer he ever had! He also learned that you can't take beer in with you, and that they won't let you take it out either! Rich plans to be at the Rose Bowl for the BCS Championship, and we're all talking plans about future trips on the way to The Goal!