Add another group of Army football players to the growing list of student-athletes without a win over archrival Navy.
The Black Knights got off to a slow start, and some sloppy execution on offense led to untimely turnovers that ultimately sealed their fate.
The big play killed the Army defense again on Saturday, with Ricky Dobbs connecting on a 77 yard touchdown pass to John Howell. Navy would score on a 32 yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to take a 17-0 lead.
After a Ricky Dobbs fumble, Army finally picked up their first down of the game on the way to scoring their first touchdown in the annual rivalry matchup when Trent Steelman found Malcolm Brown for a 5 yard score. Another fumble gave Army the ball back again, and the Black Knights drove down to the Navy 3 yard line. Seemingly poised to cut Navy’s lead to just three points right before halftime, a sloppy mesh with fullback Jared Hassin jarred the ball in Steelman’s hands. He retained possession, but as he attempted to break through the pile it was knocked loose and Wyat Middleton returned the fumble 98 yards for a touchdown.
An emphatic proverbial “nail in the coffin.”
Army would tack on a field goal on their first possession of the second half. Navy extended the lead to 31-10 on their first possession of the fourth quarter. The Black Knights closed out the day’s scoring when Steelman found Brown again, this time for a 45 yard touchdown.
What Went Right: Forcing turnovers. Navy fumbled three times, all recovered by the Black Knights. All three fumbles were lost by start quarterback Ricky Dobbs. The turnovers set up the most important Army possessions – their first touchdown and the drive that ended with a Steelman fumble being returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
What Went Wrong: Giveaways. Sloppiness. Big plays on defense. Army’s option attack looked a little off in its timing, and it shows in the fumble category. The fumbles were caused by poor meshes, which is unacceptable and elementary for an option team. On defense, we again saw the Black Knights struck by the big play.
Player of the Game: Stephen Anderson. The captain was emotional coming into the game, and I’m sure it eats away at him that he lost against Navy again. He played his heart out, forcing a fumble by Ricky Dobbs on the opening possession of the game and recovering another. He finished with 12 tackles, and half a sack.
Final Word: This was a good measuring stick for Army. Obviously, they are not where they need to be yet. Still, plenty of pride can be taken in a resurgent season and a bowl trip. Hopefully the Black Knights can finish strong against SMU.
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.