Final Statistics: Navy 17, Army 3
PHILADELPHIA - Ricky Dobbs established an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and Navy extended its winning streak against Army to eight with a 17-3 victory, Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 69,541 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
Navy improved to 9-4 with the victory and claimed the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy for the seventh consecutive season. The Midshipmen will face Missouri in the Texas Bowl on New Year's Eve.
Army, who needed a win to be bowl eligible, ends its season at 5-7.
The Black Knights, who would have played Temple in the EagleBank Bowl with a victory, posted its highest win total since the 1996 squad went 10-2 and played in the Independence Bowl.
Army rushed for 110 yards and threw for 77 yards while recovering a fumble and intercepting a pass but the Midshipmen used two long scoring drives in the third quarter to comeback from a halftime deficit.
Freshman quarterback Trent Steelman rushed for 16 yards and completed 7-of-20 passes for 77 yards to pace the Black Knights' offense. Patrick Mealy rushed 13 times for 48 yards while Kingsley Ehie picked up 28 yards on nine carries. Alejandro Villanueva was the leading receiver with five catches for 62 yards while Mealy and Damion Hunter each had a reception.
Army's defense forced three fumbles and limited the Midshipmen to 191 yards of total offense but a pair of missed field goals, a lost fumble and an interception were too much to overcome.
Dobbs led all rushers with 113 yards on 33 carries while completing 3-of-7 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Andrew Rodriguez led Army with a game-best and career-high 14 tackles, nine of them solo. The sophomore linebacker also forced a fumble. Steve Erzinger reached double digit tackles for the first time in his career with 11 and also intercepted a pass. Junior Marcus Hilton and senior captain Victor Ugenyi each made seven.
The two academies traded punts for most of the first quarter, despite a 36-yard kickoff return by Army's Hunter on the opening kick.
Army struck first, with a field goal late in the first quarter. Alex Carlton split the uprights with a 23-yard strike, after Erzinger picked off Dobbs' pass and returned it 26 yards. Erzinger returned his first career interception to the 12 yard line, setting up Carlton's boot as time expired in the first quarter.
The field goal was the 18th of the season for Carlton and tied the school record held by J. Parker. The 3-0 Army lead was the first time the Black Knights led in the series with Navy since the 2006 contest.
The Black Knights forced their second turnover of the contest at the start of the second quarter. Rodriguez popped Bobby Doyle, causing a fumble that was recovered by Christopher Swain near midfield.
Army, despite forcing the Mids into two turnovers for the first time in nine games, failed to capitalize and was forced to punt.
The Black Knights kept the 3-0 advantage into halftime as the game turned into a defensive struggle. It was the first time the Black Knights have led at halftime since the 2001 contest and the first time Navy was shutout in the first half since 1993.
Navy got on the scoreboard and too k the lead in the second half. On the first possession of the second half, the Midshipmen put together an 11-play, 68-yard drive that encompassed more than six minutes.
Navy, facing a fourth-and-one at the Army 30 yard-line, kept the drive alive when Dobbs rushed for two yards and then Dobbs found Marcus Curry for a 25-yard touchdown. It was the third touchdown of the season for Curry and put Navy ahead 7-3 when Joe Buckley kicked the PAT.
The Midshipmen added to their advantage with another long drive to close out the third quarter. Dobbs went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season during the drive, which concluded with Buckley's 36-yard field goal. The drive took 12 plays to cover 55 yards in 6:54 and gave Navy a 10-3 lead.
Navy's two possessions allowed Army to run just four plays in the 15-minute session.
Army had a scoring opportunity early in the fourth quarter. Steelman completed two passes to Villanueva and one to Hunter to set up a 32-yard field goal attempt from Carlton, who missed it left, his second wide field goal of the game, that kept the score 10-3 in favor of Navy.
The Midshipmen put the game away, taking advantage of an Army fumble to make it a 17-3 contest. Following a Navy punt and a seven-yard return by Josh Jones, Ross Pospisil forced the loose ball and Craig Shafer returned it 21 yards to the 12-yard line. Dobbs did the rest, scoring from a yard out to cap the four-play, 12-yard drive. Dobbs' rushing touchdown was his 24th of the season, establishing a new NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season.
Army had one final chance late in the contest. Steelman connected with Villanueva for 27 yards on two completions and then rushed for two yards. A 15-yard penalty against Navy for helmet-to-helmet contact was followed by a 12-yard completion to Mealy. A seven-yard completion to Villanueva moved the ball to the nine-yard line. Facing fourth-and-eight from the nine-yard line, Steelman was looking for Villanueva in the center of the end zone but the 6-foot-10 wide receiver was covered by at least five players and the pass was intercepted for a touchback with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.