WEST POINT, N.Y. - Although Army held a 6-0 lead for three quarters following a touchdown and blocked extra point in the first quarter, visiting Navy rallied to score a touchdown and the go-ahead PAT with just 1:51 remaining to record a 7-6 victory against the Black Knights (6-1 overall, 5-1 CSFL) in front of a capacity crowd at West Point's Shea Stadium on Friday night. With the win, the Midshipmen (7-0, 5-0) claimed their fifth CSFL Championship in the last six years and extended their win streak to 23 games overall.
Navy, which managed just 86 total yards for the game, and had just one drive of more than 20 yards, was aided by a 15-yard facemask after a 14-yard run on its final drive. Following Nate Stewart's run and the penalty, a net gain of 29 yards for the Mids, the Army defense held strong on three straight running plays to set up a 4th-and-8. Navy's Tyler Terronez, who went 6-for-26 passing for 38 yards and two interceptions, found Eric Montgomery for 14 yards to get the first down, and connected with Brad Cash for a nine-yard touchdown just inside the right pylon two plays later. Dave Reifenberg's extra point gave the Midshipmen the deciding point of the game.
The Black Knights got the ball back at their own 38, but failed to connect on any downfield passes after the Midshipmen ran down a first-down screen play. Army QB Tim Meier, who completed just four of 12 passes with an interception, and WR James McCarthy nearly hooked up on a 4th-and-14 that would have extended the drive, but the high pass just missed a fully-extended McCarthy, ending Army's bid for an unbeaten season.
After exchanging punts to open the game, Meier powered a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive with a 44-yard run up the left sideline on a keeper that led to the only points of the first half. The freshman called his own number again, and came through with a second-effort surge on 4th-and-short to sustain the drive. Behind Ricky Lentz's three-yard TD run on 3rd-and goal, the Black Knights got on the scoreboard, but led only 6-0 as Navy defensive lineman K.C. Middleton got a hand on the extra point attempt. Lentz carried the ball 39 times for 121 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Navy blocked two kicks on the night in a tight game in which special teams, defense, and critical penalties eventually decided the contest.
After exchanging punts over the first half of the second quarter, the Black Knights appeared to be in position to add to their 6-0 lead going into the locker room, but failed to capitalize on two separate scoring chances, and had a near-touchdown erased by a penalty, in the final 3:16 of the second quarter.
The Army offense managed to get into position for a kick attempt from 38 yards out, but Navy defensive back Jared Tate blocked Sam Herbert's kick, which Navy recovered and returned to its own 17-yard line. Army linebacker Clayton Rife picked off Navy's first-down pass to get the offense the ball back at Navy's 23, but again the Black Knights failed to convert on a scoring chance. Lentz, who carried the ball 20 times in the first half alone, broke through the right side of Navy's defense and would have been down inside the five, but a costly holding penalty erased the run and moved the Black Knights back. Two plays later, Herbert's 44-yard boot caromed off the inside of the left upright to keep the score at 6-0.
Both team's defenses took over in the third quarter. Army senior Thomas Malejko led the Black Knights' effort with seven tackles including 2.5 for losses, while Tyler Hawkins paced the Navy defense with a game-high 17 stops.
Army regained possession with 12:36 remaining in the game and used seven straight running plays, including five from Lentz, to gain 26 yards and use up 4:01. After Meier's third-down run came up short, Army missed a 40-yard field goal attempt wide to the left with 8:35 left to play. The two service academy rivals exchanged punts before Navy earned their 11th consecutive win over Army with the late touchdown drive.
Army, under second-year head coach Lt. Col. Mark West, finished the season with the most wins since the 2000 squad went 6-1 under Gene McIntyre.
NOTES: The Cadet Parachute Team was scheduled to bring in the game ball but called off the jump due to heavy cloud cover ... Saratoga Trust Allegiance Bowl Committee Chair Scot Perkins presented the game ball to the officials before the game ... Army honored seniors Taylor Griffin, Sam Herbert, Ricky Lentz, Chris Lauren, Thomas Malejko, Rob Mandel, Andrew Mellon, Matt Rohe, Peter Rome, Glenn Rumph, Brett Talkington, Matthew Talley, and Mike Watson for their dedication to the team over the duration of their career before the game.