Neither squad wanted to sing first.
Army came in to the game at 2-9 on the season and on the wrong end of a 10-year losing streak to their Naval counterparts. However, no season is considered a failure when the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy is presented to your coach, captains, and team.
The Black Knights were led by the game’s spotlighted player, senior quarterback Trent Steelman. Steelman had started under center in each of the previous three seasons.
However, he had never sang second.
At 7-4 coming in, the Midshipmen were heading to their fourth bowl game in a five year span no matter what was going to happen in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Traditionally, when the final whistle is blown in the Army-Navy game each year, the losing team must remove their helmets and sing the fight songs of their respective schools. After the beaten squad is done singing, the winning team gets to sprint across the field towards their home sidelines and sing their fight song along with their jubilant fans.
Before Army had to pluck off their helmets and face the music, literally, by singing first, the Black Knights gave the Mids everything they could handle. Navy’s recent dominance between these rivals was only extended through the 113th meeting when, with very little time remaining, quarterback Keenan Reynolds chugged around the right side of his offensive line and into the end zone to take a 17-13 lead.
Reynolds, just a freshman, was playing in his first Army-Navy game. He was only starting his seventh career game, but he played like he had benefited from the seasoning of a man such as Steelman.
Steelman, the senior, gave a heroic effort — the word ‘hero’ is a relative term in this game — but with a 13-10 lead he and his fullback botched a handoff late in the fourth quarter. The turnover gave Reynolds and Co. the possession they needed to pull out the dramatic final drive and win.
Steelman, as was obvious to everyone in the building, wanted the win to help cement his career as a Black Knight. The team runs the triple option, so he only threw five passes, but he completed four of them for 48 yards. He carried the football 18 times for 99 yards and a score.
His numbers were better than those of Reynolds. The youngster grew up quickly, however; he finished the game having completed 10 of his 17 pass attempts for 130 yards, while taking 15 rushes for 40 yards and a score.
At the end of the game, as vice president Joe Biden was presenting the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy, the numbers did not at all matter.
All that did was the win, the 11th in a row for Navy, and what may be a lifetime’s worth of ‘what ifs’ for Trent Steelman.
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