Army overcame the elements and a spirited Navy to emerged with a 14-13 victory over their bitter rivals. It was the second straight win against the Midshipmen, having finally broken through last year after 14 consecutive losses.
The Black Knights have captured the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy for the first time since 1996, also the last time they notched nine or more wins in a season. Jeff Monken is the first Army coach to post back-to-back eight-plus win seasons since Jim Young did it in 1984-1985. Monken’s side plays San Diego State in the Armed Service Bowl with the opportunity to become just the second Army team to win 10 games.
It’s been an astounding and unpredictable turnaround in West Point. The program, once a perennial national contender, had all but faded into the background outside of its one annual national showcase. It failed to flirt with relevancy while Navy had brushes with greatness, important players, and a death grip on the rivalry.
The revolution has not taken place above ground, but on it. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw completed his only pass attempt today for 20 yards. His team won three different times this year without completing a pass, including once without attempting one. To say the offense is one-dimensional would be an understatement.
And yet it’s worked well enough to yield historic success. It worked enough to today in the one game that matters. The workmanlike, no-shortcut approach fits the ethos of the academy nicely. This is a no-nonsense team that wins ugly, but wins.
These last two years have been sweet for the long-suffering and far-flung supporters. Army may not be done improving. They could be the ones dominating this rivalry for a decade-plus.
No one saw that coming.