Navy Tops Army 27-21 for Tenth Straight Rivalry Win
Alexander Teich of Navy elevates for a touchdown. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
LANDOVER, MD—The more things change, the more they stay the same.
 
Although the outcome was in question until the final whistle, Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field the Navy Midshipmen defeated the Army Black Knights 27-21 for the tenth time in a row in the annual rivalry game between the two service academies.

It was the final game of the season for both squads, who both failed to quality for bowl eligibility. What these two teams lacked in football prowess, they made up in school and national pride.

In total 80,798 fans of teams, including several thousand cadets from West Point and Midshipmen from Annapolis, packed FedEx Field to the brim.

Among the few neutral fans was President Barack Obama, who took in the afternoon’s game along with Vice President Joe Biden and a host of other dignitaries.

All the pomp and circumstance failed to take away from stellar on-field action. As far as Army-Navy games have gone in recent years, Saturday was surprisingly close. Navy (5-7) has been dominant in this annual matchup, winning ten straight over Army (3-9) with this year’s victory.

One thing that was never in question was the tenor of the game’s attack. Army and Navy entered the game ranked 1st and 4th in rushing offense among FBS teams; conversely, they ranked last and second to last in passing offense. On Saturday, the two teams combined for 116 rushing attempts and 9 passes.

Army and Navy were also the two least-penalized FBS teams in 2011, which is why it was shocking that a penalty proved to be the turning point late in the fourth quarter.

President Obama watches the game from the stands with Midshipmen. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
With Navy nursing a six-point lead, and facing a 4th-and-one situation near midfield with under two minutes to play, quarterback Kriss Proctor’s hard count drew an Army lineman offside.

“In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think we’d get them” to commit the penalty, said Navy head coach Ken Niumatololo.

The penalty gave the Midshipmen a fresh set of downs, which they used to run the clock down to eight seconds before punting. A last-ditch pass by Army quarterback Trent Steelman only went for 29 yards, leaving the Black Knights 61 yards from the end zone without any more time to get there.

“It was a fairy tale ending for us,” added Niumatololo in his post-game press conference.

Early on, indications were for a blowout in favor of the Midshipmen, who jumped out to a 14-0 first half lead on the strength of rushing touchdowns by senior quarterback Kriss Proctor and senior fullback Alexander Teich.

Two impressive plays by senior end Jabaree Tuani set up the Navy lead. Late in the first quarter, three plays after a fumble by Proctor in the red zone put an end to a strong Navy drive, Tuani jumped on a fumble by Army tailback Raymond Maples to put the Midshipmen back in prime scoring position. Six plays later, Proctor scored to put the first points on the board.

Midway through the second quarter, Tuani stripped Army tailback Jared Hessin of the ball, and teammate Brye French recovered to give Navy a short field, setting the stage for Teich’s 10-yard rumble three minutes later.

Teich had a career afternoon as well, jumping from 11th to 9th on Navy’s all-time rushing leaders list. The senior, soon to enter Navy SEAL training, not only ran, he returned kicks, and pumped up his teammates coming out of halftime with an impassioned speech.

"I'm an emotional person -- I don't know if you guys noticed yet," said Teich. "I was amped…I was going to do whatever it took."

His encouragement was necessary because Army quickly answered Navy’s two scores with a pair of their own, sending the game into the half tied.

Malcolm Brown of the Army rushes for touchdown. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
Steelman answered first for Army on their first possession after Teich’s run, scrambling for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:34 left on the clock. After Army’s stout defense forced a three-and-out, the Black Knights’ triple option attack quickly forced its way down the field, with tailback Malcolm Brown breaking a tackle at the goal line with 49 seconds in the half to even things up.

Unfortunately for Army, an authoritative 48-yard kickoff return by Teich to open the second half gave Navy a short field, and the Midshipmen needed only five plays to push the remaining 48 yards before Proctor punched in a two-yard run to give his team the lead again.

Determined to break his school’s long losing streak, Steelman found Brown on the ensuing possession for that rarest of occurrences in the game, a 25-yard pass, to tie things up once again. Army’s field position was set up by a 31-yard rumble up the middle of the field by fullback Larry Dixon, almost half of his rushing total for the game.

Army appeared poised to take its first lead of the game when senior linebacker Steven Erzinger forced a Navy fumble three plays after Brown’s touchdown, but his Black Knights committed penalties on consecutive possessions to push them into a second and 27, and eventually a punt.

From that point on, Navy’s powerful rushing offense proved to be too overpowering for Army. Starting from their own 19-yard line, the Midshipmen put together a dominating 18-play, 75-yard scoring drive, which took up over nine minutes off the clock and spanned the third and fourth quarters.

At the end of the drive Navy was only able to manage a 23-yard field goal by senior Jon Teague to give them a 24-21 lead. However, on the ensuing kickoff Army returner Scott Williams fumbled the ball and Navy recovered just 27 yards from the end zone. The Black Knights held strong on defense, and Navy settled for another field goal by Teague, from a much more daunting 44 yards out.

Given a chance for redemption, Williams returned the next kickoff 16 yards, but Army was only able to get to Navy’s 25-yard line before Steelman was sacked on a fourth-and-seven to end the drive.
 
PHOTO GALLERY - Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipman
 
President Barack Obama tosses a Reagan coin during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Navy F18 fighter jets does a flyover during the Army vs. Navy game in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
FB Alexander Teich of Navy is tackled after gaining several yards. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the Fed Ex field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Army cadets cheer on the Black Knights. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Brye French of the Navy tackles Army's Trent Steelman. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
President Barack Obama has a nice moment while watching the game from the stands. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
QB Chris Proctor eludes a tackler. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Midshipmen enjoying the game from the stands. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
QB Kriss Proctor of Navy rushes for a first down. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo heads to the locker room at halftime. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Navy's Alexander Teich falls backward for a loss of yardage. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Gee Gee Greene of Navy hurdles over an Army defender. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
An injured sailor has a laugh after almost getting hit by players going out bounds. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Navy players celebrate their win over Army with a score of 27-21 during a game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Army players stand to attention during the playing of the Army song. Navy Midshipmen defeated Army Black Knights 27-21 during the Army vs. Navy game at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
Navy celebrates their win over Army with a score of 27-21 at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
 
ArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArray