The Army-Navy Game: A Longtime American Tradition

by Aarav Kochar, Sports Editor

December is finally here, meaning the best month for football. In the NFL, stakes are high as this month decides which teams will continue to play in January for their quest of a Super Bowl, and in the NCAA teams across the country are putting a wrap to the regular season and preparing for the highly awaited bowl games and the College Football Playoffs. 

This month is also the time for the biggest game in all of college sports, the Army vs Navy football game, a tradition in America that has spanned over 130 years. The two teams also share an intense rivalry, as the phrases “Beat Navy!” and “Beat Army!” are ingrained in the respective institutions and have become a symbol of competitiveness, not just in the Army–Navy Game, but in the service of the country. 

The hype building up to the game is unreal. Hype videos all over the internet, the awaited uniforms both teams will be wearing for the game, and the overwhelming surge of patriotism and unity in this country makes the buildup to this game amazing. 

This past Saturday, Dec. 11, both teams faced off against each other in an incredible Navy upset win over the Army Black Knights, 17-13. 

This year’s game was played for the first time ever at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Due to COVID-19, last year’s game was forced to be played at West Point, also with limited attendance. However, with this year being the first year of the new normal with regards to the pandemic, the turnout tripled, as the stands were packed with enthusiastic fans around the country. 

The game nonetheless was a great one, one filled with a more old fashioned battle in the trenches. This means both teams put a heavy emphasis on the run game, especially the Navy Midshipmen. The team totaled almost 200 rushing yards as a team, while quarterback Tai Lavatai only threw the ball 6 times the entire game. Lavatai was the X factor in Saturday’s game however, as he did score twice on the ground while picking up 62 yards on 20 carries. 

The game started off slow for the Midshipmen, as Army took a 7-0 lead after an explosive 56-yard touchdown run from Christian Anderson, the quarterback for the Black Knights. The Midshipmen responded to the big TD run with one of their own, an 8-yard run from Lavatai. It was not until the third quarter where we saw another six points go up on the board. After the Black Knights tallied two 30 yard field goals, Lavatai ran into the endzone for his second touchdown of the day, promptly after a big breakaway run from Navy running back Chance Warren pieced off an incredible 26 yard run off a trick play, nearly getting into the endzone despite extending his arm towards the pylon. After a great defensive stand from Navy’s defense which forced Army to punt, the game finally started to look like a Navy victory. 

Early in the 4th quarter, viewers were met with an unexpected surprise. As Navy lined up to punt on a 4th and 1, the snap accidently went to Navy linebacker Diego Fagot (#54), who needed to think quickly and pick up the first down on what apparently was an accidental fake punt. When questioned about the play, Fagot didn’t have much else to say. 

“I mean, as a linebacker, you kind of already have tunnel vision, so I wasn’t really expecting it,” he said. “So when I caught it, I just started running straight.” 

It turns out running straight wins teams games, as the funny moment was the precursor to the Navy victory. Shortly after the successful conversion, the team drove downfield and ended the drive with a field goal; they put three on the board as well as removed the much needed time for the Black Knights to string together one last drive to win the game. 

The win was big for the now 4-8 Navy Midshipmen, already facing one of the hardest schedules in college football, as they faced 11 bowl-bound teams, tops in the nation. Some names among those teams includes the #4-ranked Cincinnati, Notre Dame, SMU, UCF, and Houston. This is also their second win against Army in the past six years. 

Already faced with the insurmountable amount of trash talk from both Army players and the fans, they were able to silence their critics by getting a win on Saturday. The win gives a great feeling to leave with for the staff, players, coaches, and fans, as they get to hold onto bragging rights until the next time these two teams face each other.