Owens leads Navy to victory over Army

Updated: December 3, 2005, 9:23 PM ET
SportsTicker

PHILADELPHIA -- There was an Owens running all over the field and scoring touchdowns in Philadelphia on Saturday. And Navy actually was glad to have him on the team.

Navy quarterback Lamar Owens rushed for three touchdowns and sparked a dominant ground attack as the Midshipmen captured the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy with a 42-23 victory over Army.

Navy entered Saturday leading the nation in rushing offense (286.7 yards per game), and Owens and company had their way with the Black Knights, rushing for nearly 500 yards and scoring 28 consecutive points to break open the game.

"(Owens) did a nice job of running the offense," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "I thought the team that ran the ball the best would win the game.

"I don't think they had as much pep in their step after you score like that. It's a little bit frustrating when you're getting the ball run down your throat. I think each time we scored, it probably became more and more frustrating for them."

With Army owning a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, Owens broke several tackles, spun out of the grasp of defensive back Caleb Campbell and raced down the left sideline for a 28-yard TD run to give Navy (7-4) the lead with 3:46 left in the quarter.

"I was able to get outside," Owens said. "I think (Campbell) was trying to throw me out of bounds and I was able to just keep my balance. It all happened so fast."

"I just saw my fingers falling off his jersey," Campbell said. "The defense was just lunging too much instead of tackling. (Owens) just made a good, athletic play."

Owens, who finished with 99 yards on 15 carries and was named the game's MVP, added a one-yard TD run seven seconds before the half to make it 21-10.

"I think we were playing well when it was 10-7," Army coach Bobby Ross said. "It looked like we were hanging in there pretty well defensively. All of a sudden, we just never stopped them."

Fullback Adam Ballard ripped off a 28-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Owens added his final TD rush of the game - another one-yarder - to make it 35-10 with 3:13 left in the period.

"The way we kind of just took off in the second and third quarters, we wanted to make a statement that we're on a different level right now," Owens said.

After Army scored, Ballard ran 67 yards for a TD nine seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 42-17. It was Navy's fifth consecutive possession in which it produced a touchdown.

"I think (Army's) defense is relatively young," Ballard said. "They can't simulate what we do in practice with the scout team."

Ballard, who was held to 13 yards on five first-half carries, gained 192 yards on 18 carries in his second career start. Navy finished with 490 yards rushing - the fifth-highest total in school history - to establish a new record in the series.

"It's been exciting," Ballard said. "I'm just glad I've been able to get out there on the field, and play and contribute."

Army, which had been riding a four-game winning streak after dropping its first six contests of the season, lost for the sixth time in the last seven meetings with the Midshipmen.

"We had beaten Army the last three times we played, but you wouldn't have known it listening to the media (this past week)," Johnson said. "Everybody was telling us that they've caught us and we weren't as good. I'm kind of from the old adage, 'You've got to show me.' I wanted to see it."

Zac Dahman completed 23-of-35 passes for 255 yards and three TDs and Carlton Jones rushed for 80 yards on 22 carries for Army (4-7).

"It's pretty hard to swallow, knowing that you went four years and didn't beat Navy," Dahman said. "I know our underclassmen are gonna come back next year and do well."

Navy moved ahead in the all-time series with Army, 50-49-7, its first lead since 1991.

Since taking over as coach, Johnson improved to 7-1 against service academy teams (3-1 vs. Air Force and 4-0 against Army). It's the best start by a Navy coach against the other two service academies, bettering Wayne Hardin's 6-1 mark from 1959-64.

"This group of seniors never lost to Army and as a group, they're 7-1 in academy games," Johnson said. "That's certainly something that we talked about."

Johnson became just the third coach in school history to win his first four games against Army. He joined Hardin - who won his first five games from 1959-63 - and George Welsh (1973-76).

Jones became just the second Army player to have multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He joined Mike Mayweather, who had three straight 1,000-yard campaigns from 1988-90.

Army opened the scoring on a 32-yard field goal by Justin Koenig with 26 seconds left in the first quarter. Navy responded quickly as Reggie Campbell capped a four-play drive with a 54-yard TD run 61 seconds into the second period to give Navy a 7-3 lead.

Dahman hit Jeremy Trimble with a 30-yard TD pass with 7:52 left in the second to give the Cadets their last lead at 10-7.

The Midshipmen finished with 531 yards of total offense to set an Army-Navy game record.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index