Another year, another Navy win vs. Army. The Black Knights looked like they had new life under first-year head coach Jeff Monken, but it was not quite enough to pull out the victory against the Midshipmen. That's 13 in a row in the series for Navy, who won 17-10 and will now move on to the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State.
Army took an early lead when they blocked a Navy punt for a touchdown. It was their first defensive or special teams touchdown against Navy since 2001 — the last time they beat the Midshipmen.
Navy was able to recover later in the first half, scoring their first touchdown with 18 seconds to play in the second quarter. Keenan Reynolds found Jamir Tillman for the nine-yard score, tying the game up before halftime. The Midshipmen took the lead on a long field goal in the third quarter, and essentially sealed it on Reynolds' one-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run.
Three things we learned
1. Navy has bragging rights. Again. 13 in a row is no small feat for any rivalry game, and speaks to the program Ken Niumatalolo has been able to build (with a hat-tip to Paul Johnson, of course). The Midshipmen may not have won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy (Air Force won this time around), but beating Army will help take some of that sting out.
2. Navy has guaranteed a winning season. They're 7-5 heading into their bowl game against San Diego State, and a win there would give them a third straight eight-win season (and 11th in the past 12 years). With a loss, Navy would still finish above .500 yet again, setting up for a memorable 2015 in Keenan Reynolds' final year with the school.
3. The future still looks bright for Army. This game was much closer than last year's 34-7 affair, and Jeff Monken has made some major strides in just one season with the Black Knights. Their 4-8 record is the program's best since 2010 — that's not bad for Monken's first year with the program. The defense looked more able to stop the Midshipmen than in recent years, but while the offense put up rushing yardage (198 yards on 45 carries) they were unable to score.