Army Football notes: the Navy game
December 2, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. - One of the most storied rivalries in all of sports resumes on Saturday when the Army-Navy contest will be played in Philadelphia for the 81st time in the 109 games between the two service academies.
It is the fifth time that Lincoln Financial Field will host the rivalry. CBS will broadcast the game to a national audience for the 13th consecutive season. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Army is looking to snap a three-game losing streak after a 30-3 defeat at Rutgers on Nov. 22. The Black Knights last victory came on Oct. 25 against Louisiana Tech.
The annual rivalry game will feature two of the most prolific rushing offenses in the nation. The Black Knights, in their first season running the option since 1999, boast the country's ninth-rated rushing offense at 254.09 yards per game. The Mids lead the nation, averaging 292.00 yards per contest. The two teams are 118th and 119th out of 119 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing offense. The Mids average 63.50 yards per through the air while Army throws for only 45.73 yards per game.
The Army defense is hoping for a repeat peformance of last year's game when the Black Knights held Navy, the nation's number one running team at nearly 350 yards per game, to 287 yards on the ground and forced the Mids to punt a season-high six times. The 2008 Black Knights rank 32nd in the nation against the run, allowing 124.82 yards per game. No team has gained more than 184 yards rushing against Army this season, and the Black Knights have held three foes to under 100 yards. In its first service academy game this season, Army held Air Force, the nation's sixth-ranked rushing offense to 142 yards, its second-lowest output of the season.
<b>SCOUTING THE MIDSHIPMEN</b>
Navy enters the 109th meeting between the arch rivals with a 7-4 record. The Mids have already accepted a bid to play in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl that will be played in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 20. It will be the program's sixth straight bowl game.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo is in his first full season as the Navy mentor. The longtime Mids' assistant took the helm on Dec. 8, 2008. His first game as the new head coach came in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, a 35-32 loss to Utah.
The Mids secured their sixth straight season with at least seven wins when they defeated Northern Illinois, 16-0, on Tuesday, Nov. 25 in their final tune-up before the Army-Navy Classic. Sophomore QB Ricky Dobbs made his first career start, rushing for 124 yards and a touchdown. Senior FB Eric Kettani ran for 92 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown.
The Navy offense is predicated on running the triple option. The Mids have been one of the most prolific running teams since installing the system, and have continued their success in 2008. Navy averages 292 yards per game on the ground to lead the nation.
Senior RB Shun white leads the Mids with 873 yards on 105 carries despite being held to no yards on only one attempt against NIU. White is also tied for the team lead with seven touchdowns.
Kettani is next on the list with 811 yards and three touchdowns. Dobbs, despite playing in only seven games and starting once, is the third-leading rusher with 493 yards and paces the Mids with eight rushing scores.
Senior QB Jarod Bryant played in each of the first 10 games, making six starts. He ranks fourth on the team with 481 rushing yards and is third on the squad with six rushing touchdowns. Bryant is the team's leading passer, completing 19 of 37 throws for 275 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Dobbs is 9 of 16 through the air for 212 yards, one interception and one touchdown.
Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, last year's starting quarterback, has played in only four games this season while battling injuries. He has run for 169 yards and thrown for 211 yards and two scores (13-18, 0 INT).
As a team, Navy is allowing 358.9 yards and 23.4 points per game. Junior LB Ross Pospisil leads the team with 81 tackles. Jabaree Tuani leads the Mids with 8.5 tackles for loss, while Matt Nechak owns a team-high 4.0 quarterback sacks. Rashawn King and Emmett Merchant each have three interceptions.
Matt Harmon is 15 for 17 on field goal tries and is tied for 27th in the nation with 1.36 field goals per game. Kyle Delahooke also ranked among the nation's leaders with a 42.00 yards-per-punt average (29th).
<b>THE ARMY VS. NAVY SERIES</b>
While Army enjoyed the upper hand against Navy during the majority of the decade of the 1990s, Navy has turned the tide in recent years. The Midshipmen have captured nine of the last 11 meetings, including the past six, to grab a 52-49-7 advantage in the classic rivalry. The Mids current six-game winning streak is the longest in the series by either academy.
Taking a broader view, the last 22 meetings of the storied rivalry that dates back to 1890 have been split down the middle.
Hard-fought Army victories were commonplace in the 1990s, with the Black Knights prevailing in seven of those 10 matchups. Those seven Army victories came by a total of just 24 points, with an amazing six-game stretch of Cadet wins decided by a total of only 14 points.
The point differential over the course of the 108-game series stands at a rather microscopic 261 points (an average of 2.4 points per game). That figure stood at 92 entering the 2002 contest, but Navy has outscored Army 240-71 the last six years. The Mids blasted Army 58-12 in 2002, setting a series-record scoring total in the process, then followed with 34-6, 42-13, 42-23, 26-14 and 38-3 victories the past five years.
<b>AN ARMY WIN VS. NAVY WOULD ...</b>
Aca,!Ac Snap Army's three-game losing streak.
Aca,!Ac End the Black Knights' six-game losing skid to Navy.
Aca,!Ac Even Army's Commander-In-Chief's Trophy record at 1-1 in 2008 (lost at Air Force) and create a three-way tie for the trophy.
Aca,!Ac Be the Black Knights' 50th win against Navy (49-52-7).
Aca,!Ac End Army's six-game losing streak against its service academy rivals
Aca,!Ac Be Army's first win against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field (0-4)
Aca,!Ac Surpass the Black Knights' win total from last season and mark the third time since 1997 that Army has won as many as four games in one season.
Aca,!Ac Be the 638th win in the 119 seasons of Army football (637-448-51; .583)
<b>MOONEY GOING FOR HISTORY IN FAREWELL PERFORMANCE</b>
Senior FB Collin Mooney ran for 112 yards on 20 carries at Rutgers to move into second place on the Black Knights' single-season rushing ledger with 1,285 yards. He needs only 54 yards in his last game to break the Army standard of 1,338 set by Mike Mayweather in 1990.
Mooney is the 10th Army player ever to rush for 1,000 yards in one season. Those 10 players have accomplished the feat a total of 13 times.
Mooney is ranked 11th in the nation with 116.8 rushing yards per game. He has five 100-yard performances this season which is tied for the fifth-best season total in Academy history. It is the most 100-yard games by an Army player since Michael Wallace had six in 2000. In two of those games, he has bested the 200-yard plateau.
The Black Knights have held its opponent to 13-or-fewer points in each of its three victories this season. The 13 points allowed at Tulane and versus Eastern Michigan marked the first time since the 1996 season that Army has held its foes to less than 14 points in two straight games. The '96 squad scored a 34-10 win versus Tulane on Oct. 19 before defeating Miami (Ohio), 27-7, on Oct. 26.
Army allowed a season-low seven points versus Louisiana Tech. It was the defense's best day since limiting Rhode Island to one touchdown in a 14-7 overtime win last season. It was the fewest points allowed to a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since a 20-0 shutout of Akron on Oct. 22, 2005.
The 16-7 loss to Air Force stopped a seven-game Army winning streak when allowing 17 points or less. Since the start of the 1996 season, Army is 21-5 when the opponent tallies 17 or less. In that same span, the Black Knights are 16-95 when opposing teams tally 18-or-more points.