On a snowy cold day in South Philadelphia, Army and Navy slushed their way through an entertaining game with Army winning its second in a row in the annual series, 14-13.
Here are some observations on the 118th edition of the Army-Navy game from Lincoln Financial Field.
Impressive first drive
On Army's first drive, an 11-play, 68-yard sequence that ended with a three-yard run by Darnell Woolfolk, the Black Knights unsurprisingly ran the ball on every play. This is a team that entered the game leading the country in rushing (368.1 yards per game). Navy knew what was coming but couldn't stop it. All 11 plays went either up the middle or to the right. Army right tackle Brett Toth (6-6, 305) was continually clearing the way. Navy made adjustments after that and Army struggled before scoring with 5:10 left.
Perry a blur
Malcolm Perry made only his second start at quarterback after playing wingback for most of the year, and showed why coach Ken Niimatalolo had such faith in him. Even on a snowy, slick field, Perry, was difficult to stop when he got to the perimeter. On his 68-yard touchdown run, Perry cut to the left, watched as the defense over-pursued and then took it to the right side, going untouched for his third rushing touchdown of the year of 60 or more yards. Later in the quarter, Perry's speed almost created a big play. He would have had a big gain, but an option pass from receiver Craig Scott was well overthrown of a wide-open Perry.
On Navy's first drive of the third quarter, there was tremendous hustle by Army defensive end John Voit, who made a touchdown saving tackle by getting just enough of Perry's foot to trip him up after a 46-yard gain. To see the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Voit run down the field when it appeared Perry was off to the races was one of the great hustle plays one will ever see. The play gave Navy the ball on the Army 11 and the Midshipmen had to settle for a field goal, meaning Voit saved his team four points.
Army's John Trainor gained eight yards to the Navy 1-yard line on the play before the Black Knights took a 14-13 lead on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Ahmad Bradshaw with 5:10 left. While Trainor ran hard on the play, the key was the pitch by Bradshaw on the option. Bradshaw was leveled by defensive end Tyler Sayles, but gave Trainor an excellent pitch, and the 5-11, 195-pound senior did the rest to set up the touchdown
With Navy trailing 14-13, the Midshipmen had an errant snap from center. Navy's Darryl Bonner, positioned behind quarterback Perry, scooped the ball up, no easy task in the snow, and only lost two yards on the play. Bonner's head-up play averted a turnover, and the Midshipmen earned a first down on the next play when Perry ran 13 yards to the Army 44.
Kicking in tough sledding
It was a great job by Navy's Bennett Moehring in making a 28-yard field goal for his team's first points. With the snowy field, any field goal or extra point attempt was an adventure. Moehring barely made it, but he had enough to earn the three points. Moehring also barely made a 24-yarder in the third quarter, and did a solid job on kickoffs. Even when he missed a 48-yard field goal on the game's final play, it was a strong kick considering the conditions, but went wide left.