Nov. 2, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Army sprint football recorded its 18th undefeated season in program history with Friday night’s 21-18 victory over rival Navy in the annual Star Game in Annapolis, Md. Both teams entered the game with identical 6-0 marks as the contest decided the College Sprint Football League Champion. Despite being held scoreless in the second half, the Black Knights clung to the lead they built in the first half to capture their 32nd CSFL title.
Army got off to a fast start, scoring on the game’s opening drive as a 40-yard pass play from senior quarterback Javier Sustaita to classmate and wideout Cody Nyp set up a 10-yard touchdown score by fellow firstie Marquis Morris.
Morris and Nyp stuffed the stat sheet on the night, as Morris recorded his third 100-yard rushing performance in the last four games with his 102-yard effort, while Nyp eclipsed the century mark for the fourth time in five games with his 101-yard showing.
Nyp finishes his highlight reel of a career with 1,771 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns. Morris had his most successful year to date, capping 2012 with a total of 802 all-purpose yards to go along with a career-best seven touchdowns.
Following Army’s opening-drive score, the Black Knight defense forced Navy to punt on three straight possessions, running out the first quarter with a 7-0 lead.
The Midshipmen tacked on their first score of the game on the opening drive of the second quarter, as Lewis Correale connected with Corey Garcia for a 32-yard score.
After a pair of long Morris runs combined with yet another deep bomb to Nyp worth 37 yards, Army got within field goal range, but senior Kevin Scruggs’ 21-yard attempt was blocked, setting up yet another punt-ended drive for the Midshipmen.
Two plays later, Sustaita found junior Tom Jeffers for a shifty 66-yard touchdown score, extending Army’s lead to 14-7 after Scruggs’ extra-point attempt was successful.
After a trio of punts, Army charged down the field to tack on one more score before the half as Sustaita and Jeffers connected for the second time, this one a 24-yard TD pass as the teams headed into intermission with Army ahead, 21-7.
Turnovers told the tale in the second half as John Egan and Kalaukoa Labonta ended Navy’s first two possessions by picking off Correale, while the Black Knights’ own second drive was halted when Jeffers lost a fumble.
Navy made the fumble recovery count as a 41-yard field goal made the score 21-10 midway through the third.
Sustaita was picked off for just the second time in 2012 on Army’s ensuing possession, as Navy took advantage of the turnover, driving down to score the touchdown and succeed on the two-point conversion, closing the gap to 21-18 with 4:33 left in the third.
Two minutes later, junior Patrick Franco forced a fumble which was recovered by Labonta, giving the ball back to Army, which then turned it over three plays later as Sustaita was slammed and coughed up the ball at the Navy 27-yard line late in the third quarter.
The fourth stanza commenced with back-to-back punts before yet another turnover, as Correale was picked off by junior Jake Steckler in Army territory.
Momentum shifted back towards Navy after consecutive Army punts, including one boot which advanced just eight yards, setting up dangerous field position for what would be Navy’s final drive of the game.
The Midshipmen took over at 3:47 in the fourth at their own 30-yard line, with Army getting hit with a 15-yard personal foul flag on the first play. A pair of completions got the ball into Army territory at the 37-yard line before Lewis got Navy well within field goal range with an 18-yard completion to Tracy Daniels at the Army 17.
Senior co-captain Rob Reckner made arguably the biggest defensive play of the game, stopping Alex Horton’s run for a loss of five yards, pushing Navy’s soon-to-be field goal attempt back to 39-yard line.
With 57 seconds remaining, Adrian Montecinos lined up for the 39-yard attempt which fell short, handing Army the 21-18 win.
With a 7-0 record, Army completed its first undefeated season since 1994 and 18th flawless mark since the program began in 1957. The seven victories are one shy of the program-best eight, set in 1983 (8-0).
Army last won the CSFL title in 2010, sharing the crown with Penn who finished with an identical 5-1 record. The Black Knights finished the season as the only undefeated team in the conference, allowing them to hoist the trophy all alone for the first time since 2003 and 24th time overall.
The Black Knights also closed the gap in the all-time series with Navy, as the Midshipmen show a 40-32-1 advantage, with 26 of Army’s wins coming in Star Games.
The victory over Navy is the first for fourth-year head coach Lt. Col. Mark West. West, a former sprint football player during his cadet years at the Academy, owns a 20-8 career coaching record at West Point.