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“Nationals October 2019

119th Army-Navy Game Preview

| December 07, 2018, 09:21 AM

The greatest rivalry in college sports is finally upon us as the Navy Midshipmen (3-9) looks to face off against the Army Black Knights at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia at 3:00 pm.

As always seems to be the case, this game has huge implications for both teams. If Navy defeats Army, then Navy, Air Force, and Army will all share in the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy this season since the three teams would all be 1-1 against each other (Air Force beat Navy and Army beat Air Force). The trophy would remain at West Point because the rules state the previous winner retains the trophy if all three teams go 1-1 against each other. In the previous 46 years, the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy has been on the line, only four times has there been a tie (1974 retained by Navy, 1976 retained by Navy, 1980 retained by Navy and 1993 retained by Air Force).

Navy has been abysmal this season. After opening the season 2-1, including a one-point victory over eventual AAC West Division Champs Memphis, Navy went on a 7-game losing skid where they gave up 37.1 PPG while only managing 19.4 PPG.

In the fourth game of the year, Navy rallied to tie SMU at 23, scored first in overtime, only to see SMU score and go for two and get it as Ben Hicks’ two-point pass to tight end Hunter Thedford just missed the fingertips of Navy linebacker Taylor Heflin giving SMU a 31-30 win. Against Temple, Malcolm’s Perry’s 30-yard go-ahead touchdown run against Temple was called back on a controversial block in the back call as Navy lost to the Owls, 24-17. Against Tulane, Navy scored 25 consecutive points to take a 28-21 lead with 3:44 left, only to see Tulane drive down the field and score with 1:27 remaining. Tulane went for two and got it, beating Navy 29-28.

Meanwhile, Army is storming into the post-season on a 7-game winning streak and a date with Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 22nd. Army enters the game ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 25 in the coach’s poll. It is the first time since 1996 that Army enters the Army-Navy Game ranked in the top 25. Army was ranked No. 23 that year and defeated Navy, 28-24. Navy last entered the Army-Navy Game ranked in the top 25 in 2015 when the No. 21 Midshipmen defeated Army, 21-17.

Army QB Kelvin Hopkins has been a monster this season, racking up 783 yards and 10 TS’s on the ground and throwing for another 895 yards and six scores. The real key to his and Army’s success is accuracy and consistency. Army currently leads the nation with 20.34 yards per completion and Hopkins only has three INT on the year.

The Army offense is No. 1 in the country in third-down conversions (.571), fourth down conversions (.909) and time of possession (39:15). Army has lost just four fumbles on the year, which is the sixth fewest in the country and its seven total turnovers are the second-fewest in the country. Army is ranked 25th in the country in red zone offense (.889)

Army isn’t so bad on the other side of the ball either. The defense is third in the nation on third down, has allowed the second-fewest first downs, and is 12th in rushing defense.

That is going to be the test for Navy senior QB Zach Abey as he and the other 33 seniors prepare for the final game of their careers.

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About the Author - Kevin Chaney, Jr

Kevin Chaney covers sports all at all levels throughout Anne Arundel County. Follow him on twitter @Kchaneysports and his website www.Shellbacksports.com

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