Another Army-Navy tradition honored at West Point
December 9, 2011
- U.S. Military Academy
- 2011 Army-Navy football game
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WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 9, 2011) -- Most of the Corps of Cadets will clear out of the academy later today and make their way to Washington, D.C. for the 112th Army-Navy game at FedEx Field.
One last Army-Navy Week tradition was honored last night at Michie Stadium with the 106th installment of the Goat-Engineer football games.
In the women's flag football contest, it was a close contest throughout until the Engineers scored a field goal with seconds left on the clock to beat the Goats, 17-14.
Class of 2012 Cadet Lindsay Gordon, a member of the Army Women's Soccer team, said it was exciting to compete in what is relatively a new tradition for female cadets to compete in the Goat-Engineer game. Winning a football game with some of her soccer colleaues was especially rewarding.
"This was a fun competition but everybody really wanted to play and win," she said. "It's great to be able to say that we played in the Goat-Engineer game and came out with the victory."
The men's tackle football game ended in a win for the Goats, 12-0 over the Engineers. The Corps of Cadets first captain, Class of 2012 Cadet Charlie Phelps, played on the winning side. He considered the win a way to celebrate the semester's end and contribute to the history of Army-Navy Week at West Point.
"It was a fun time for us to forget about academics for a moment and play a little football before heading out to the Army-Navy game," Phelps said. "This is a great tradition for classmates to come together and knock each other around a little bit. It's definitely one of the fun traditions we have."
Class of 2012 Cadet Doug McFarland, another member of the Goat team, said they benefited from having cadets from the Sprint Football team as coaches and a strong Corps contingent braving the cold weather in the bleachers.
"They were great coaches, and we had a good time," he said. "We're usually the ones in the stands cheering for the football team, so it was nice to get our share of the cheers."
The tradition of the Goat-Engineer game played during Army-Navy Week dates back to 1905. It was a Thanksgiving morning and the Corps couldn't go home, so they played football.
Originally there were three games played, involving more than just one class. There was the Runts versus Flankers, Corporals versus Privates, and the only one to survive the test of time, Goats versus Engineers.
The tradition began with the Goats, comprised of cadets ranked in the bottom half of the junior class, challenging the Engineers, cadets ranked in the top half of the class. The game program in 1963 stated it was the top third and bottom third of the second class competing.
The legend of the Goat-Engineer game alludes to a Goat win translating to an Army win over Navy: "As the Goats go against the Engineers, so goes Army against Navy." History has shown no statistical data to support the claim. The game has been played in all sorts of conditions, including a near-blizzard episode last year. According to the original rulebook, the game must be played, rain or shine.
Other rules--taken from the 1905 program--stipulate no substitutes are allowed. It stated "when you see a head, hit it" and signals can be used only to frighten the enemy. The game has taken on a less threatening rulebook in recent years, and slugging an opponent is no longer an authorized play.
Over the past decade, the game has incorporated first and second class cadets on both sides; as early as 1999, the women's flag football game was played the day before the Goat-Engineer game. Starting in 2007, both men's and women's games shared the same spotlight at Michie Stadium.
Regardless of the outcome, West Point players and fans alike are rooting for a win this Saturday against Navy. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. on CBS; pregame coverage on CBS Sports network beings at 11 a.m.