The Army Black Knights defeated the Navy Midshipmen 14-13 for the second straight year, winning the Commander-In-Chief Trophy for just the first time since 1996.
It was a highly anticipated matchup between the greatest rivals in all of college football, and it exceeded every possible expectation.
This game had everything a fan could ask for. The pageantry of the service academies as they entered the stadium in formation and presented themselves to the sellout crowd of 68,625 screaming fans. Navy and their supporters were looking to exact revenge after losing to Army last year for the first time in 14 years. To top it all off, the coveted Commander-In-Chief Trophy was on the line.
Oh yeah, and it was snowing like crazy the entire time.
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All images ©2017 Kevin Carroll | a digital cure photography for Eye On Annapolis
Like last year, Navy leaned on an unproven quarterback to start the game. Sophomore Malcolm Perry, who had literally been pulled out of the stands to suit up for a game in the 2016 season, had earned the job over Junior QB Zach Abey.
While it was a mystery to many as to who coach Niumatalolo was going to start the game, the team was fully aware who would be leading them into battle.
“Two weeks ago, I was told I was going to be the starting quarterback against Army,” said Perry, “all throughout the week, we practiced and got our game plan in. It was obvious that I was going to have the ball in my hands a lot.”
And that is exactly what Navy did. In only his second career start at quarterback, Perry led the team with 250 yards rushing on 30 carries. It was his second 200-yard rushing game this season.
After Army scored a touchdown on their opening drive, Perry got the Mids rolling, calling his own number on the first five plays of the game and gaining 46 total yards before settling for a field goal. After the Navy defense forced Army to punt on the ensuing drive, Perry broke off a 68-yard touchdown run that put the Mids up 10-7. That was his fourth touchdown run of 65 yards or more this season. By halftime, Perry had 146 of the teams 172 total yards.
Navy received the kickoff after halftime, and Perry picked right back up where he left off when he pulled away for a 46-yard run, but came up just shy of reaching the end zone. Instead of finding a way to score after the long run, Navy had to settle for a field goal.
“I wish I wouldn’t have tripped. That would have made it a lot easier” said Perry on settling for a field goal. “When we are down at the goal line and close to the end zone, we have to put the ball in the end zone. We just didn’t.”
With Navy leading 13-7 and 12 minutes left on the clock, Navy really only needed one more stop to secure the win. Unfortunately for the Mids, Army QB and game MVP Ahmad Bradshaw took matters into his own hands.
Army drove the ball 65 yards, 47 of those yards coming from Bradshaw, and Army scored giving the Black Knights a one-point lead.
With five minutes left, Navy attempted to drive the ball down the field. Perry ran the ball 44 yards to the Army 25 yard line with two minutes left until back-to-back false starts by right guard Evan Martin and wide receiver Tyler Carmona pushed navy back to the Army 31-yard line.
The extra yardage proved to be too much when Bennett Moehring missed the 48-yard field goal wide left, sending Navy home with a loss for the second year in a row.
“We just didn’t do what we needed to do,” said defensive captain D.J. Palmore “For the guys that are coming back next year, it will be something to go back and look at.”
But there is no time for reflection now. The Mids have the Military Bowl coming up in Annapolis on the 28th of December against the University of Virginia. This is the 14th bowl appearance by Navy football in the past 15 years. Palmore knows his team will be ready for a tough UVA team “It will be our seniors’ last game at home. We all want to go out the right way. I don’t think it is going to be hard to get the guys up for a bowl game.”