Army, Navy, Football, MetLife Stadium, 2021, Highlights
Army Football, Navy Football, MetLife Stadium, Getty Images

The annual service academy showdown is underway in East Rutherford

Naval Academy stealth assignments proved to be the difference in the 122nd edition of the Army-Navy Game at the New York Jets and New York Giants’ home of MetLife Stadium on Saturday.

A double-reverse on fourth down and an unexpected fake punt proved to be the difference for the Midshipmen, who used 196 rushing yards to earn a 17-13 victory over Army, getting back in the win column in the historic rivalry after the Black Knights won four of the previous five.

Jet X has the highlights.

1st Quarter

It took the Black Knights only two minutes to get things rolling after Navy deferred to start the contest. Fresh off getting things started with a rare forward pass that earned 14 yards, Christian Anderson ran in a 56-yard touchdown to give Army the early lead.

It didn’t take Navy long to even things up, as they created a “Tai” ballgame on an 11-play, 83-yard trek on their own opening possession. On an eight-yard third and goal, Anderson’s fellow quarterback Tai Lavatai dragged three Army defenders in the end zone, using his physicality and the assistance of the Naval blockers to even the contest.

Cole Talley kicked a 31-yard field goal for Army to give the Black Knights a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

Both offenses struggled in the second quarter, with the issues partly stemming from Zach Harding’s 50-yard punt for Army that was downed at the Navy 1.

The Black Knights used further special teams activities to their advantage at the end of the quarter, capping off an 8-play, 49-yard drive with a 32-yard triple from Talley. Army once again used surprising aerial antics to their advantage, as Anderson set up with field goal with a 23-yard connection with Tyrell Robinson.

Both defenses managed to break into the backfield for big losses, as Nolan Cockrill put one up for Army, Navy countering with quarterback takedowns for Nicholas Straw and Colin Ramos. The Midshipmen had a chance for the longest field goal in rivalry history, but Bijan Nichols’ 53-yarder went left.

Army led 13-7 at the midway point.

3rd Quarter

Navy took advantage of the deferring to the second half, taking their first lead of the day on a 10-play, 74-yard drive that featured a literal fourth down chance: facing a four-yard challenge from the Army 28, Chance Warren tallied 26 on a double reverse before Lavatai punched in the final two for his second score of the day.

Army was unable to generate any offensive momentum, mustering only 12 yards in the third frame. Nonetheless, they prevented further damage and kept Navy’s lead to 14-13.

4th Quarter

Navy ate up a good portion of the fourth quarter clock with a nearly nine-minute drive that preceded an Army three-and-out. While it ended only in a Bijan Nichols field goal from 43 yards out, the Midshipmen were able to kill off precious minutes thanks mostly to a jaw-dropping fake punt inside their own 40. Linebacker Diego Fagot earned the previous yardage to keep the drive alive.

The next two drives were decidedly shorter via three-and-outs. Army used all their timeouts on Navy’s brief drive, giving them one last chance for the win that started at their own 33. They earned a first down but failed to progress much further past midfield, as Fagot and Jacob Busic stopped Anderson inches short of a first down that could’ve kept the potential winning trek alive. Navy ran out the clock, allowing them to take the 17-13 final.

With their triumph, Navy (4-8) improved to 62-53-7 in the annual series with Army and 4-1 in such matchups at the Meadowlands. Despite their loss, Army will have one more game on Dec. 22, as they’ll battle Missouri in the 2021 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email: geoffmags90@gmail.com

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