Over the past 10 years, we have seen some extremely exciting games between Army, Air Force, and Navy. With that, we wanted to narrow down the Top 5 games over the last decade that kept us on the edge of our seat as these three school fought for that year’s Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. In our first game, we take you all the way back to...one year ago.
5. Army-Air Force 2019
In the last decade, only two meetings between Army and Air Force was decided by single-digits. Furthermore, the Black Knights only had three wins over the Falcons. So, one could say Air Force really but a beating down on Army during the 2010s. 2019, however, was not one of those years. The game took place in Colorado Springs, with Army holding a record of 3-5, and Air Force entering 6-2. Coach Jeff Monken’s team was plagued by injuries, especially at the quarterback position. In this match, Army quarterback, Jabari Laws, posted an astounding 214 passing yards before getting hurt on the final drive of the game. This final drive ended with Kelvin Hopkins Jr., who was playing hurt, attempting three passes on four downs with the ball inside the Air Force 10 yard line. Ultimately, Air Force made the fourth down, fourth quarter stand and held off the Black Knights, 17-13.
4. Army-Navy 2019
This Army-Navy Game simply brought back balance to the rivalry. The Army Black Knights were on a three game win streak over Navy and there was a sense that Coach Monken might have found the secret formula to defeating the Midshipmen. However, the change to the recipe was Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s addition of defensive coordinator, Brian Newberry.
Malcolm Perry’s incredible athleticism, paired with a dominant defensive performance by Navy, resulted in a smooth 31-7 victory over the Black Knights.
And, this is where we are today. Tons of questions remain regarding the rivalry. What happens to Navy now that Malcolm Perry has played his last game as a Midshipmen? Was 2019 just a down year for Army? Or, was 2018 and the previous two seasons the actual fluke seasons? How will Coach Monken respond to Coach Newberry’s new style of defense? Will Army have a healthy quarterback in 2020? The list goes on.
3. Air Force-Navy 2011
On a cool, October afternoon in the year of 2011, the Air Force Falcons got off to a strong start and were ahead at halftime, 21-3. However, the home-field advantage kicked in for the Midshipmen as they roared back in the second half. After a field goal, then onside kick recovery, and a two-point conversion with 19 seconds left in regulation, Navy tied the game, 28-28. The match was marked by a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that pushed back Jon Teague’s extra point attempt after their initial touchdown in overtime. Regardless, the extra point was blocked and the Falcons won the game on the next drive.
2011 was a tough year for the Navy Midshipmen. It was one of two losing seasons Coach Niumatalolo had during the last decade. And while the Midshipmen beat Army at the end of the year, the team still had a terrible taste in its mouth from the 35-36 overtime loss at home to Air Force. The Falcons, on the other hand, had a relatively bright year, going 7-5 in the regular season and winning the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.
2. Army-Navy 2016
Army breaks “the streak”. Prior to 2016, the Navy Midshipmen won 14 games straight against the Black Knights. While nobody likes to admit it, the victory truly was good for the rivalry. Additionally, the Black Knights, and their fans, deserved the victory.
Coach Monken put together a great gameplan. Ahmed Bradshaw ran the offense beautifully. And, most of all, the Army fans had been supporting the team for with their whole hearts for years. The Midshipmen knocked off Notre Dame in Jacksonville, Florida previously as the highlight of their year. This 21-17 victory for Army was the highlight of their decade.
Additionally, the win for the Black Knights ignited a remarkable 2-year run. After this win, Army went 21-5 over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, which included bowl game victories over San Diego State and Houston, and also led to two seasons of Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy victories.
1. Army-Navy 2012-2015
Frankly, there’s far too much to unpack from these years. And for that, we must lump them together and hit the highlights. 2012 was the first year that Keenan Reynolds took over at quarterback for Navy. Coincidentally, Reynolds really stepped out in center stage for the first time that year when he came off the bench in the fourth quarter against Air Force game, and brought the Midshipmen back from a late deficit to win in overtime. Conversely, 2012 was the last year of the Trent Steelman era at Army. In 2012, the Black Knights’ final, game-winning drive was abruptly stopped with fumble on the 14 yard line with just over a minute left in the game. Navy won, 17-13.
The 2013 Army-Navy game was less exciting than the year previous. Yet, for those who were there, this game will never, ever be forgotten. The snow. The hail. The sleet. The harsh rain. This was the coldest many, both on the field and in the stands, had ever been in their entire lives. Navy dominated. Army had injury issues at quarterback all year long that contributed to their 31-7 loss. But, wow....that was cold!
2014 was interesting because you could tell the Navy Midshipmen were nervous. The locker room was full of pure fear of being the team that ruined “the streak” of beating Army. The Black Knights jumped ahead by scoring off a blocked punt, 7-0. Neither offense performed particularly well that game. The game ended 17-10 in favor of the Midshipmen, but you could tell the Black Knights were close.
The last game in this four year span was very similar to 2014 in the sense that Coach Monken’s team was slowly creeping towards finally beating Navy after 13 years (at that time). However, I don’t think there was much doubt in anyone’s mind that Keenan Reynolds wasn’t going to finish off his last year with a win against Army. Despite the Black Knights entering the game with a 2-9 record, with their only two wins against Bucknell and Eastern Michigan, they put up a tough fight. Ultimately, the Midshipmen came away on top, 17-10, and capped off their final win of “the streak” with 14 consecutive victories over the Black Knights.