Army/Navy; a running account

12:10 PM

The Army Parachute team is worth the price of admission. A dozen jumpers navigated 20 mile an hour gusts to effortlessly land on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium.

My first Army-Navy game and so far no let down. The atmosphere is as advertised. Great comment from CSN’s Brent Harris, “this is the only game where the seats are filled 20 minutes before kickoff.”

Most of the Mids I talked to earlier in the week figured Baltimore really wouldn’t provide a home field advantage. But when they took the field, the crowd erupted with twice the effort than for that of the Cadets. Even in one of the greatest rivalries in sport, there are bandwagon fans as Navy rides a five game win streak. Kickoff on the way, more to come.

1:25 PM

The smallest player in the field just made the biggest play. Following an Army field goal to cut the Navy lead to 7-3, senior tailback Reggie Campbell took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest touchdown return for a touchdown (actual quote from press box announcer) in Navy history.

Campbell has become one of the greatest big play specialists in academy history. Funny how his perception of the Army-Navy rivalry has chanced during his time in Annapolis. Before arriving to campus, he thought the game was played between actual soldiers. He laughed as he told me how he didn’t understand the tradition or the meaning of the game. Safe to say he gets it now.

Speaking of now, a big turnover followed by a Shun White TD run and Navy has turned this from a defensive struggle into likely the longest win streak for either school in the rivalry’s history. Six. 21-3 your score with 4:20 left in the 2nd quarter.

12:45 pm

Just a couple of minutes left in the first quarter and the score remains 0-0. A defensive struggle was the last thing we expected. The fewest points the Mids have scored in the last four games in 35. Army actually had the best chance so far. A 3rd down pass into the endzone hit Corey Anderson right in the chest, but Irv Spencer then followed the ball in to his chest dislodging the pigskin. A missed field goal followed. Can’t say I think it’s nerves, but maybe the cold. Hard to get warmed up.

Wait, the Mids just got warmed up. Zerbin Singleton breaks free on the pitch for a 38 yard Navy touchdown. 7-0 Midshipmen. Interesting that it’s Singleton to break through. At practice this week, he repeatedly was chewed out by his teammates for seemingly not being in the right place at the right time. Guess he got the message.

1:43 PM

There’s that man again. Just seconds left in the first half and Army chooses to punt to Reggie Campbell. We saw this last week in the NFL when the Broncos continued to kick the ball to Devin Hester and he continued to run free to the end zone. Campbell didn’t actually reach paydirt, but his magnificent punt return of 45 yards gave Joey Bullen a FG chance from 51 yards as time expired. And Bullen Dawson’s one over the cross bar for the 2nd longest field goal in Navy history. We head to the break with Navy on top 24-3
But even cooler than watching Campbell play X-Box with the Cadets special teams, was watching Roger Staubach throw the ball on the Navy sideline. The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner still has a rocket for an arm.

2:36 PM

Not much happened in the 3rd quarter except for another dose of Army heartache. The Black Knights drove all the way to the Navy one yard line, and fumbled. The sunken shoulders for the Cadets in white dragged back to the sidelines. The frustration of continued failure in such a titanic rivalry weighs heavily. In fact, any failure means more in this game. Navy punter Greg Veteto shanked a kick then proceeded to the sidelines where he paced for three minutes straight back. Nobody offered any words of encouragment, not because they’re bad teammates, I just think they could tell he was so angry the “keep your chin up” would have to wait. And that’s with Navy winning 24-3.

One other note from pre-game. The public address announced welcomed todays crowd to PSINet Stadium. What a bizarre time warp. Army I’m sure would have liked it. Back when it was PSINet Stadium, the Cadets weren’t mired in a five game losing streak to Navy.


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