‘Electricity’ awaits as Army, Navy meet for 123rd time

Field Level Media

December 07, 2022 at 2:02 am.

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy will not be on the line, but that will not lessen the mystique or the emotions of the annual Army-Navy game when the two service academies take the field Saturday in Philadelphia.

Air Force won the three-way rivalry’s trophy for the first time since 2016 by beating Army (5-6) and Navy (4-7) earlier this season.

Still, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo has seen the Army-Navy row up close for 15 years and knows what it means.

“They’re representing our country … It’s not a regional game,” said Niumatalolo, who is 10-4 against Army. “What I think both schools represent, what both schools’ players will do after they play and it being a game that touches all of America, it makes it different. It makes it special.”

Part of the tradition is the collision of two triple-option flexbone offenses, which keep the ball on the ground most, if not all, of the time. Army ranked second in FBS in rushing yards per game this season (304.4), while Navy was seventh (239.5). Sportsbooks have pinned the over/under at 33 points; only once in the past five editions of the series has either team eclipsed 17.

Navy leads the series 62-53-7. The Midshipmen have won two of the past three meetings after Army pulled off a three-game winning streak (2016-2018).

Navy has been idle since Nov. 19, when it dominated then-No. 20 UCF on the ground and earned a 17-14 upset win.

The Midshipmen have used Xavier Arline and Maasai Maynor at quarterback since starter Tai Lavatai sustained a season-ending injury in late October. Fullback Daba Fofana leads the team with 749 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Army softened the end of a disappointing season with consecutive wins over UConn, 34-17, and UMass, 44-7. Quarterback Tyhier Tyler leads the Black Knights with 601 rushing yards and 12 rushing scores, including five touchdowns in his past two games.

“It’s an intense, incredible contest,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “From the moment that the competitors arrive at the stadium, there’s an electricity there that is unrivaled. It’s truly awesome and I’m looking forward to being out there and just having a chance to compete.”

Army’s uniforms honor the 1st Armored Division and feature a “mud splatter” effect. Navy unveiled an astronaut-themed uniform, noting that 54 academy graduates have become astronauts, the most of any institution.

The game returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 2019 and is there for the 90th time overall.

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