2:30 PM ET, December 2, 2006
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Navy can hook an anchor to that Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
With a pair of rushing touchdowns, and a defense that produced two scores, the Midshipmen sent their seniors out with another win over Army and a career sweep of the service academies.
Keenan Little returned an interception 40 yards for a TD late in the fourth for bowl-bound Navy (9-3). The Midshipmen equaled their longest winning streak in the series, matching a pair of five-game winning streaks, most recently from 1959-1963. Navy has outscored the Black Knights by a 202-68 margin the last five years and boosted its overall series lead to 51-49-7.
"We're fortunate we don't have anybody on our team that's lost to another academy," said Navy coach Paul Johnson. "That's a real goal to aspire to. It will sink in."
Navy captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the football competition between the three major service academies, for the fourth straight year.
The win also made Navy's senior class the first in team history to finish 8-0 -- yup, hoist that broom to the mast -- against Army and Air Force. This was a win that would be savored from the ol' gridiron to "Old Ironsides."
"It's hard to explain unless you're doing it," said Navy senior co-captain Rob Caldwell. "I'm excited for all the seniors to go out and say we could do this."
Trying to force at least a share of the CIC trophy for the first time since 1996, the Black Knights (3-9) instead ended the season on a six-game losing streak under coach Bobby Ross. Jeremy Trimble ran for a touchdown and tight end Tim Dunn caught a TD pass with 2 seconds left.
Navy needed little production from quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada -- he didn't complete his first pass until 10 seconds left in the third period -- to win their fourth straight game. Next for the Midshipmen is the Meineke Bowl against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference on Dec. 30.
Navy, though, will play without leading rusher Adam Ballard after he broke his right leg in the first quarter. Ballard finished with 792 yards rushing this season and three TDs.
|Bowl Selection Sunday|
The 2006 bowl games will be announced on Sunday. Tune into ESPN and ESPN2 to see who, where and when your team will play.
• Bowl Selection Show (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET)
This might be the only regular-season game for any Division I team where a win means more than any bowl game ever could. With fighter jets roaring over Lincoln Financial Field before kickoff, and cadets and mids standing, bouncing and cheering the entire game, it was clear how much this patriotic rivalry means to both sides.
Too bad Army hasn't had much chance to enjoy it of late.
Kaheaku-Enhada gave Navy a clutch first down on the go-ahead drive in the third quarter when he gained 2 yards on a fourth-and-1. Two plays later, Tomlinson took the pitch on an end-around, sprinted down the left sideline and just dipped his feet in the end zone before he was pushed out for a 14-7 lead.
"Nobody was there and it was flowing real good," said Tomlinson, who was chosen MVP. "Once you get the chance, you've got to do whatever you can to make plays."
That was something Army couldn't do.
Army had a chance to tie it late in the third quarter with a strong drive kept alive by a sensational diving, over-the-middle 16-yard catch by Walter Hill. Mike Viti's 10-yard run pushed the ball to the 18, but a couple of running plays went nowhere and Austin Miller missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt.
"I felt all the way up until midway through the fourth quarter we could win, I really did," Ross said. "When it was 14-7, I thought our defense was playing well enough for us. The big thing was that we missed that field goal."
Army never really threatened again and limped toward its 10th straight losing season.
"It's been real frustrating the past four years," said Army's senior co-captain Cameron Craig. "You put all your time and effort into this game right here. It's the pinnacle of our season. Now, I'll always reflect and try to guide the younger guys because we're done. It's over for us."
For a drive, at least, the Black Knights made it seem possible it could finally kick some rear admiral. Trimble gave Army a 7-0 lead with a 41-yard touchdown run off a double reverse, putting the Midshipmen in the hole for the first time since the first quarter of the Nov. 4 Duke game.
But Campbell's 9-yard TD run tied the score late in the first, giving him another Army-Navy score to pair with the 54-yard run he ripped off in last season's win.
Matt Harmon kicked a 35-yard field goal in the fourth to make it 17-7.