ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Army West Point sprint football team defeated Navy, 7-3, in a defensive battle to claim the star as part of the Star Series presented by USAA Sunday afternoon at Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium.
With consistent rainfall and the temperature in the 40s throughout the game, field position was crucial. Both teams' scoring drives occurred after taking over in their opponent's territory.
The lone score of the first half came with Navy starting its drive on the Army 20 yard line. The Cadets' defense held strong, only surrendering two yards before Navy's Mychal Golden made a 35-yard field goal attempt to give the Mids the 3-0 lead with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
In the second half, it was the Black Knights that benefited from favorable field position. David Dickerson soared in to record an interception at the Navy 32 yard line. On the second play of Army's ensuing drive, JC Watson connected with Justin Charette on a 29-yard pass play that move the ball down to the Navy one yard line. Two plays later, Watson scooped up a low snap out of the shotgun and rushed forward into the end zone on the keeper to give Army the 7-3 lead with 9:05 left in the third quarter.
The sequence helped jumpstart Army's offense, which was limited to just 36 yards of total offense and one first down in the first half. The Cadets went on to gain 150 yards of total offense in the second half.
After a successful fake punt attempt, Navy was threatening to score late in third quarter. Though, Army's defense held strong, forcing a field goal attempt, which missed short to preserve the Black Knights' 7-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Army took 5:08 off the clock and pinned Navy at its own eight yard line after a punt from Charette, who had never punted in game before today.
Navy opened the drive with two big plays, advancing the ball quickly to midfield. Army's defense refused to break, as Alex Sobeski soared off the edge to record a 10-yard sack. Then on the next play, Sobeski, who finished the contest with 14 tackles, combined with Luke Gigliotti for a loss of three to help force a Navy punt with just over eight minutes remaining.
The Mids threatened to score again on their final drive of the game. After starting on its own 25 yard line, Navy moved the ball up the field and into the Black Knights' red zone. Once again Army's defense refused to break and forced a turnover on downs to take home the star.
NOTES AND HIGHLIGHTS
- Army had four players record 10 or more tackles: Dickerson, Sobeski, Luke Gigliotti and NaVonte Dean.
- Dickerson led the team with 15 tackles (9 solo), an interception and had 4.0 TFLs.
- Sobeski was second on the team with 14 tackles (6 solo) and registered 2.5 TFLs.
- In his debut, Gigliotti had 11 tackles (5 solo) and also totaled 2.5 TFLs.
- Dean notched 10 tackles (3 solo) and had 0.5 TFLs.
- Charette finished the contest with four receptions for 91 yards.
- Watson had 133 yards through the air on 11-for-21 passing.
- Since the start of the 2012 season Army is 7-4 opposite the Mids.
- This was the 38th game in the series that was decided by one possession.
- The win gives Army the 2-1 advantage in the Star Series presented by USAA.
FROM THE SOURCE
HC Mark West
On the team's resiliency: "I can't be more proud of these guys and what they've been able to accomplish this fall. Week in and week out these guys came out and worked hard every day and I'm just so proud of their effort. They never gave up, even though we were down 3-0 at halftime. They came out and got the job done in the second half. I'm proud of all the guys for that."
On the win: "Anytime you beat Navy, you feel pretty good about it, but especially today since it was a defensive battle. I think with it being the first game of the year, we had a tough time offensively and Navy really dominated the field position game in the first half. Our defense kept us in it. We made some adjustments at halftime and the offense was able to get the touchdown and we held on for the win."
LB David Dickerson
On the interception: "Brendan Windsor and I both saw the screen. He saw it before I did and he tipped it up to me. It was kind of a right place at the right time kind of thing. I was just fortunate that he tipped it up and I was able to come down with it. I knew that was the play we needed to get the offense the opportunity to make a play and score and turn the momentum in our favor."
On the defense's mentality in the fourth quarter even after giving up some big plays: "We talk a lot about doing our jobs and holding the line and that's really what we take pride in our defense for. There's situations where it's like 'how are you going to respond when we're backed up to our goal line?' and I think we really responded well."
WR Justin Charette
On his catch which set up Army's touchdown: "Our offensive line did a great job giving JC time. I saw the safety and thought I was going to get smashed, but I undercut him and grabbed the ball. I was just upset I couldn't get in the first time, but we scored two plays later. I was so excited."
On how important big plays were: "We talked about it all week – the moments where you can have opportunities for big plays. And doing everything you can to make that play. It was a great feeling, especially as a senior."