Navy scored on its opening drives of both halves and its defense did the rest Saturday, shutting down the potent rushing attack of Army in a 17-13 victory in East Rutherford, N.Y. in the 122nd edition of the storied rivalry.
With the victory, the three service academies, including Air Force, finished tied for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, sharing the trophy for the first time since 1993. Last year’s champion Army retains the trophy.
Quarterback Tai Lavatai scored both touchdowns for Navy (4-8), on runs of eight and two yards. He carried 20 times for 62 yards and was 4-of-6 passing for 82 yards on a day in which Navy seemed to have the answers on all the game’s key plays.
The Midshipmen earned the victory in part by milking more than half of the fourth quarter – an 8:55 drive that covered 49 yards in 15 plays and was capped by a 43-yard field goal by Bijan Nichols with 6:10 to go.
The drive was extended by a fake punt at their own 34 yard-line when linebacker Diego Fagot gained four yards on fourth-and-1 early in the drive.
Army (8-4) had two more possessions but failed to get into scoring position. With 1:27 left, Navy wrapped it up on a fourth-and-3 play as Jacob Busic and Fagot combined to stop Army quarterback Christian Anderson a yard short of a first down at the Navy 46.
Army, gunning for its fifth win over Navy in the last six years, had entered the game averaging 301 yards rushing, but was held to 196 yards by the fired-up Navy defense.
Anderson scored on a 56-yard touchdown run on the fourth snap of the game to give Army a 7-0 lead. But after that, the Mids defense, led by Fagot (nine tackles), bottled up the Black Knights triple-option attack.
Navy retaliated with an 83-yard drive. The Mids converted two key third-down plays in Black Knights’ territory as wideout Jayden Umbarger ripped off 27 yards on an end around. Three plays later, on third and goal, Lavatai surprised Army with an 8-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw.
Army led 13-7 at halftime, but Navy drove 74 yards following the second half kickoff.
Lavatai got the Mids into Black Knights territory with a 28-yard completion to Maquel Haywood. Then on 4th-and-4, Chance Warren took a handoff on a reverse and streaked up the right sideline for 26 yards to set up a 2-yard scoring run by Lavatai.
© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.