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Navy dismantles Army as QB rushes for six TDs

While close games have been a tradition in the annual Army-Navy game, Midshipmen quarterback Craig Candeto made sure there was nothing traditional about yesterday's game.

This article was originally published on December 8, 2002.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - While close games have been a tradition in the annual Army-Navy game, Midshipmen quarterback Craig Candeto made sure there was nothing traditional about yesterday's game.

Candeto set a school record and tied a national mark with six rushing touchdowns, and he passed for another to lead Navy past Army, 58-12, in one of the most lopsided of the 103 meetings between the service academies.

Candeto tied the Division I-A record for most rushing TDs by a quarterback, set by Air Force's Dee Dowis against San Diego State to open the 1989 season. Candeto scored on three 1-yard runs and from 42, 7 and 3 yards.

"It's pretty special," Candeto said. "It humbles me to know there are so many great players that have played throughout this tradition. For me to have this record, I'm really at a loss for words."

His performance gave the Midshipmen (2-10) a triumphant end to an otherwise forgettable season, in which they had lost 10 straight before yesterday.

Navy's point total was the most in the game's history, and the 46-point margin was the second-largest in the series, behind a 51-0 Navy win in 1973.

The teams usually don't score much when they play each other. Before Saturday, Navy averaged 13.7 points in the game, while Army averaged 12.8.

Navy's 508 yards of total offense and 421 rushing yards set Army-Navy records, and Candeto's touchdowns and point total were the most by a player in the series.

"I couldn't be prouder of our team," said Navy coach Paul Johnson, who became the first coach of either school to win in his debut of this game since Navy's Gary Tranquill in 1982. "They came out and played with heart and focus."

Although the game paired two 1-10 teams, the meaning of Army-Navy goes far beyond football. Last year's game was unusually emotional because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and this year's matchup took on added importance because of a possible war with Iraq.

"We're not just playing for the academy," Candeto said. "We're playing for all the people who have fought and died for our freedoms. It's bigger than us. We're playing on a field for people who are fighting overseas for us.

"Football is small in the whole realm of things. It makes you play that much harder. It's about service and duty."

Although Army still leads the series, 49-47-7, the Black Knights (1-11) had trouble coming to grips with such an embarrassing loss.

"I'm hurt - embarrassed as a matter of fact," said Army quarterback Reggie Nevels, who went completed 15 of 27 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. "Losing a game like that has great impact on my pride. Losing a rivalry game like that to anybody hurts pretty bad."

The Midshipmen gained a season-best 421 yards on the ground. Candeto had 103 of those yards on 18 carries, and he helped Navy dominate from the start.

The junior only needed the first half to tie the touchdown record with a pair of 1-yard runs, a 42-yard run, and a 7-yarder just before halftime.

He set the record with a 3-yard run on the first possession of the third quarter, but he wasn't done scoring. Candeto connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lane less than three minutes later to continue the rout.

Candeto added a 1-yard run for his seventh score of the day. Candeto scored 36 points before being pulled with three minutes left in the third quarter. He finished the season with 16 rushing touchdowns, tied for second on the school single-season list with Chris McCoy (1996).

His point total was the second-highest by a Navy player, behind Bill Ingram's 38 points against Villanova in 1917.