Army West Point beat Navy 15-0 on Saturday in the 121st Army-Navy Game, picking up its fourth win in the last five meetings between the teams. It was a 3-0 game after the first three quarters, but Army broke through with a touchdown and safety in the fourth quarter to put it away.
Army quarterback Tyhier Tyler was the star on offense for the Black Knights as he rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts. He also completed his lone pass attempt in the game, a 28-yard pick up on a wheel route in the second quarter that set up Army’s first field goal. It was a game dominated by the two defenses as Army finished the day with 162 yards of offense while holding Navy to 117.
The most critical moment of the game came in the third quarter. Navy received the kickoff in the second half, and after moving the ball to midfield, quarterback Xavier Arline broke free for a 52-yard gain to set Navy up with a first-and-goal inside the 5-yard line. After minimal games on first and second down, Navy was set up with a third-and-goal at the one. That’s when the Army defense stuffed the Midshipmen at the goal line twice to force a turnover on downs. It was Navy’s best chance to find the end zone in the game, and had it scored, the outcome could have been a lot different.
The two teams would spend the rest of the quarter trading punts before a Navy turnover deep in its territory set up Army’s first touchdown to make it 10-0. Navy dug itself further into a hole when it ran a reverse that ended up as a safety to make it 12-0.
Xavier Arline led the Midshipmen’s offense, rushing for 109 yards on 17 carries, and his performance was in line with Tyler’s in that the inexperience at the QB position for both teams showed in the final score. Arline was an enticing prospect, as Army and Air Force were both interested in him, but he’s still young and learning the offense. Tyler is one of four different players to play QB for the Black Knights this year, and he’s still learning the offense as well.
When you have two option offenses using limited playbooks against defenses that spend all year facing an option offense, well, a low-scoring sluggish affair is what you’re going to get.
Still, it was an absolute clinic in gap-integrity by both defenses.
The win moves Army to 7-2 on the season and sets up a winner-take-all showdown for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy against Air Force next week. The loss drops Navy to 3-7. It’s only the third time Navy has finished a season with seven losses or more during coach Ken Niumatalolo’s tenure.
Army has won four of the last five against Navy after dropping 14 straight in the series from 2002-15. The 15 total points scored Saturday were the lowest in a game between the Knights and Midshipmen since a 3-3 tie in 1981.