The fullback battle

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PHILADELPHIA – One comment drew a lot of attention from Navy fullback Eric Kettani.

Probably caught the eye of plenty of his teammates, too.

Before the season, Army assistant John Mumford said the Black Knights’ Collin Mooney was better than any Navy fullback he’d seen in nine seasons at West Point.

Kyle Eckel and Adam Ballard have enjoyed superb careers in that time. Kettani isn’t shabby himself.

As a result, one of the more subtle subplots of today’s rout was Mooney’s relatively so-so day. The senior ran for 54 yards on 17 carries, and his longest rumble of the afternoon was 10 yards. It was Mooney’s second-lowest output of the season.

“They were talking all year,” Kettani said. “It wasn’t just this week. There was the coach who said [Mooney] was better than any fullback he’d ever seen, including Navy. That’s a strong, bold statement to say about our fullbacks.”

Certainly, Mooney did enjoy a superb season. He broke Army’s single-season rushing record on the final play of the game, edging past Mike Mayweather (1990) by a yard while finishing with 1,339 for the year.

That said, Army finished 3-9, just like last year. And it lost to Army, just like the six previous seasons.

Army adopted an option-based attack this season to match Navy’s scheme. But the separation between the programs obviously remains.

“I would say that,” said Kettani, who himself won the day’s fullback battle with 125 yards and a touchdown. “It was 34-0, so that explains it all.”

Patrick Stevens

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