PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- All that was missing from the patriotic
fervor of the traditional rivalry between Army and Navy was
Aaron Polanco threw two touchdown passes and ran for another
score, leading Navy to a 42-13 victory over Army on Saturday in the
105th meeting between the service academies.
"This is the game, the biggest game of the year for Navy, no
question," Navy coach Paul Johnson said.
President Bush attended the game for the first time since 2001
at Veterans Stadium, taking part in the coin toss by flipping a
commemorative coin sent from the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
Bowl-bound Navy (9-2) hadn't won nine games since Heisman Trophy
winner Roger Staubach quarterbacked the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record
Navy has won five of the last six meetings to tie the overall
series at 49-49-7. The Midshipmen have outscored Army 134-31 in the
last three games.
Kyle Eckel had a career-high 179 yards rushing and a TD for
Navy. Carlton Jones ran for 98 yards and Zac Dahman threw two TDs
for Army (2-9).
"I wouldn't say we've won handily," Eckel said. "I got hit in
the ribs and I'm still hurting."
One of the most storied rivalries in college sports, the game
was even more significant this year because of the ongoing war in
Iraq. A moment of silence was held before the game for all deployed
About one dozen parachuters descended onto the field, with one
member from the Army's Golden Knights and another from the Navy's
Leapfrogs delighting the sellout crowd of 67,882 at Lincoln
Financial Field by landing at midfield.
Four fighter jets and seven helicopter gunships roared over the
stadium just before Bush walked out to midfield for the coin toss.
Earlier, Bush spoke to both teams in their locker rooms and later
took a picture with both cheerleading squads.
"It's very disappointing," Army coach Bobby Ross said. "We
didn't convert in critical down situations. Our effort was good.
Defensively, we did some things well, but we had some breakdowns
each half and the type of offense Navy has, it's going to hurt
After a scoreless first quarter, Navy found the end zone twice
in the next four minutes.
Polanco's 10-yard TD run gave the Midshipmen a 7-0 lead. A
44-yard run by Eric Roberts gave Navy a first down at Army's 22.
Two plays later, Polanco ran in for his 13th rushing TD this
After Army went three-and-out, Navy took over at its 47. One
play after Polanco completed a 6-yarder to Jason Tomlinson on a
fourth-and-5, Eckel burst up the middle for a 23-yard TD run to
make it 14-0.
Josh Smith returned an interception 67 yards, giving Navy a 21-0
lead later in the second quarter. Dahman eluded a sack, started to
scramble, stopped and tossed the ball into Smith's hands.
"I saw a guy behind me so I figured I better jump up and block
it or he's going to get a lot of yards," Smith said.
After a 12-yard TD pass from Polanco to Mick Yokitis put Navy
ahead 28-0, Dahman connected with Jeremy Trimble for a 6-yard TD
pass to make it 28-7 in the final minute of the first half.
Polanco tossed a 9-yard TD pass to Roberts in the third quarter.
Dahman threw an 8-yard TD pass to Aaron Alexander in the fourth.
Lamar Owens capped the scoring with a 17-yard TD run.
"They blitzed a lot more in the red zone, but we got penalties
and did some stupid stuff and we weren't able to overcome those
mistakes," Jones said.
Despite finishing with a loss, Army took strides toward
rebuilding its program in Ross' first season. The Black Knights
snapped a 19-game losing streak and won consecutive games for the
first time since 1997.
Last year, Army suffered the ignominy of being the first
Division I-A team to finish 0-13, and it hasn't had a winning
season since 1996. The Black Knights return next year to
independent status after seven dreadful seasons in Conference USA.
They are a woeful 6-41 over the last four seasons.
Meanwhile, Navy is heading to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco
on Dec. 30 after winning the Commander-In-Chief's trophy outright
for the second consecutive year.