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“Nationals October 2019

Army Defeats Navy For Third Straight Year, Wins Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy (photos to follow).

| December 09, 2018, 10:11 AM

An early Army lead and the three Navy turnovers were enough to cement a third straight victory and outright ownership of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy for the Army Black Knights in the 119th Army-Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

NOTE: More photos will be uploaded shortly.

“This was a tough loss, and you have to give Army credit,” said Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo. “These seniors have been great men, great leaders, and I know they’ll do great things in the fleet serving our country.”

It seems like a lifetime ago that Navy, led by head coach Ken Niumatalolo, won 14 straight against their arch rival Army. Things were simpler back then. Navy enjoyed the freedom of being an independent that could tailor their schedule and keep their beloved triple option system fresh.

That was before. Now Navy plays in a conference. Now they see the same teams year in and year out. Now, they have to change.

“We just need to look at what we can do in order to continue to improve. It’s been hard on all of us, the players, the coaches, the staff,” said Niumatalolo. “We like to win, and we’ve been winning a lot of games, and nobody likes to lose. It’s been hard because our program has not been accustomed to what happened this year.”

The game was a microcosm of their season. So many “what-ifs.” What if Navy had left Abey at WR for this game? What if Garrett Lewis had taken over at halftime instead of the 4th quarter? What if OJ Davis had thrown the ball to Lewis a little sooner and didn’t get leveled on 4th and 12? What if, what if, what if?

The truth is, Navy was just not up to the task this year. They were awful in the first half. They were flat, they couldn’t move the ball on the ground, and they couldn’t move the ball through the air. They couldn’t even get a first down. Zach Abey was 0-3 with a pick (2) and was riding a -100.0 passer rating for most of the game, he would finish with that same passer rating.

“I wasn’t on target tonight throwing,” said Navy senior QB Zach Abey. “That is something you always need to have going into Army-Navy game, the pass option. They play tough and bring pressure inside, you have to loosen them up. I wasn’t on target tonight.

It wasn’t much better on the ground. Navy had 39 total yards of offense at the half. They were 0-5 on third downs and only managed to hold the ball for about 12 minutes before the clock graciously ticked to triple-zero’s, and the boys went to the locker room. The only time Navy moved the chains in the first half was on a PI and an RIK penalty. Even then, Navy was unable to get momentum.

All of that changed in the 4th quarter. Like so many games this season, Navy refused to quit, and Coach Ken refused to go down without a fight. Garrett Lewis took over for Abey and marched the Midshipmen down the field. Then, like most games this season, tragedy struck, and Lewis fumbled the ball on the three-yard line.

Most teams would have been done considering it was the 3rd turnover of the game and time was running out, but Navy is not most teams. Navy needed a defensive stand to keep the hope alive, and Sean Williams delivered just that. On 3rd and 6, Army QB Haskins hit a wide open Kell Walker in the flat. It seemed destined that Walker would get the first down that would suck the soul from this Navy team.

That was when Williams locked on and laid down a punishing hit that stopped the running back cold.

Two minutes later, Navy finally got on the board after Malcolm Perry broke a 43-yard run that put the ball on the Army five-yard line and eventually in the end zone. Again, Navy needed a big defensive stand, and yet the defense delivered. Army managed zero yards on their next drive, and the Midshipmen took over on their own 22 with three minutes left. After a 2-yard loss and a false start penalty, Lewis swung out as a receiver, but the late pass left him open to a massive hit on the sideline from Army BC Elijah Riley. The next play, Zach Abey was strip-sacked, and that was all she wrote.

There are many questions as Navy enters a postseason. They were by the academies, there is no bowl appearance and no clear answer to where the offense goes from here. Coach Niumatalolo and the coaching staff have their work cut out for them, but I don’t imagine there is a group more equipped for the task.

“We always look at things. It would be arrogant on our part, on my part, to say we’re sticking to the status
quo. You always do things in the offseason to see how you can get better, but it is a combination of a lot
things.” said Niumatalolo.

Severn Bank


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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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