BALTIMORE Reggie Campbell returned a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown and rushed for another score to spark Navy to a 38-3 victory over Army, Saturday afternoon in front of 71,610 fans at M&T Bank Stadium.
Army’s defense limited Navy to 302 yards of total offense but mustered only a field goal in its end of the field and ends the season 3-9.
Navy improved to 8-4, kept possession of the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, and won its sixth straight game over Army. Navy’s six-game winning streak is the longest in the series, which dates back to 1890. Saturday marked the 108th meeting between the Service Academy rivals and a capacity crowd and sunny skies turned out for one of the nation’s oldest rivalries.
The Midshipmen entered the game leading the country in rushing offense with 357.4 yards per contest. Army held them to 287 yards but Navy blocked a punt and used two big returns and now leads the all-time series 52-49-7.
“Navy out-played us and out-hustled us,” said Army head coach Stan Brock. “They came away with plays and we didn’t make plays. I’m disappointed for the seniors and the Corps of Cadets that we didn’t give them an opportunity to beat Navy. That is my job and that is what our goal is.”
Campbell rushed five times for 47 yards, returned a kickoff 98 yards and handled three punts for 73 yards. Navy rushed the ball 61 times for 287 yards and four rushing touchdowns and will play in the Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 20 in San Diego.
Tony Dace paced the Army offense with 104 yards on 28 carries. Dace averaged 3.7 yards per carry and had a long rush of 13 yards. He is the first Army back to rush for over 100 yards since Carlton Jones rattled off 187 against Arkansas State in 2005. Dace also caught three passes for 15 yards.
Quarterback Carson Williams completed 12of-21 passes for 117 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Corey Anderson had three receptions for 32 yards while Justin Larson pulled in a pair of passes for 38 yards.
Army safety Jordan Murray made a career-best 16 tackles to pace the defense while John Plumstead was credited with 10 stops. Brian Chmura had nine and Frank Scappaticci six and a tackle for loss. End Nicholas Emmons had a game-high three tackles for losses of nine yards.
“Navy beat us today and is a better football team, but I don’t feel like the score truly indicates our opportunities,” said Brock. “That said, we need to be able to take advantage of those opportunities. We had the ball at the 1-yard line, and another time close to the 10-yard line early, and we came away with no points. We turned the ball over twice on offense and we allowed a return for a touchdown. When you do that against a good football team, it doesn’t take very much for the score to turn out like it did.”
Army won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Black Knights went 50 yards on their first possession but the drive stalled at the 10-yard line. Owen Tolson was wide right on a 28-yard field goal attempt though, giving the ball back to Navy.
Navy punted on its first possession but took the early late in the first quarter. Zerbin Singleton broke off a 38-yard run up the home sidelines with 46 seconds left in the opening quarter. Joey Bullen kicked the PAT.
Tolson got some redemption midway through the quarter. He capped a 10-play, 52-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal. Williams completed a 16-yard pass to Larson and a 15-yard pass to Anderson to keep the driving moving. Tolson’s eighth field goal of the season made it 7-3 with 7:45 remaining in the first half.
Navy quickly recovered the momentum when Reggie Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown and a 14-3 advantage after Bullen’s kick.
The Midshipmen added to their lead on their next possession when Michael Walsh caused a fumble and Irv Spencer recovered at the Army six-yard line. Two carries later, Eric Kettani scored from a yard out. Bullen’s PAT made it 21-3 with less than six minutes remaining in the first half.
Navy took a 24-3 lead at halftime when Bullen kicked a 51-yard field goal. Campbell set up the field goal with a 46-yard punt return. Navy called timeout with one second left to bring out Bullen. The low kick had just enough, bouncing off, and over, the crossbar.
Campbell scored his second touchdown in the fourth quarter, capping an 11-play, 49-yard drive with a 12-yard run. The drive took 4:37 and gave the Midshipmen a 31-3 lead with 10:18 left in the game.
Navy again utilized its special teams to up its lead to 38-3. Bobby Doyle blocked a punt and Navy took over on the seven-yard line. Backup quarterback Jarod Bryant rushed twice, including a one-yard scoring run with 7:50 left in the game.