- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 3, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — Army had turned the ball over in every game this season, but for more than three quarters yesterday the Black Knights were mistake-free.

Navy’s defense finally intercepted a pair of passes in the fourth quarter — one set up a field goal, the other was returned for a touchdown — and the Midshipmen pulled away from Army, prevailing 26-14 in front of 69,943 at Lincoln Financial Field.

“The defense came up really big for us today,” sophomore quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada said. “I think it is fair to say they definitely bailed us out.”

The Mids have dominated their rivals from West Point recently, winning the past four games by an average of 30.5 points. Yesterday they faced a significantly tougher challenge from the Black Knights.

Army struck first on a 41-yard double-reverse by junior wideout Jeremy Trimble. The Mids put together an 11-play, 65-yard answer to knot the score at 7-7 when junior Reggie Campbell took an option pitch 9 yards for the score. Navy’s second touchdown came on a reverse — a 33-yard scamper by senior Jason Tomlinson.

“Nobody was there,” Tomlinson said. “It was flowing real good and there was only one guy that I was really worried about. Tyree [Barnes] was down there with him and I had faith in him.”

After the Mids took their first lead, the Black Knights put together a 15-play, 62-yard drive that ate up more than half a quarter but resulted in a missed field goal. Moments later after Army got the ball back, freshman quarterback Carson Williams threw a pass that was picked off by senior nickel back Jeff Deliz.

Then with the score 17-7, Williams hit Navy cornerback Keenan Little in the chest, and Little returned the pick 40 yards for a touchdown to end any doubt.

“To make a play like that in this game is something you always dream about,” said Little, who also returned a fumble for a touchdown against Air Force earlier this season. “In practice, especially the past two weeks, you always think about making a big play like that to affect the game.”

Navy’s offense failed to generate many big plays, and a combination of penalties, missed reads and botched blocking assignments sabotaged long drives. The Mids failed to convert a fourth-and-1 in Army territory on their first drive and Kaheaku-Enhada fumbled the ball away right before the half.

Sophomore fullback Eric Kettani, filling in for an injured Adam Ballard, led the Mids with 67 on 15 carries. Kaheaku-Enhada had 64 yards on 15 attempts, but completed only 1 of 6 passes for 11 yards. Navy finished the game with 275 total yards of offense, its second-lowest output of the season.

Army’s offense used a variety of rushing plays and short passes to keep Navy’s defense off-balance and the Mids’ option attack on the sidelines. Junior fullback Mike Viti carried 15 times for 57 yards — both season highs. Though he threw the two key interceptions, freshman quarterback Williams bounced back from a poor performance against Notre Dame to complete 16 of 23 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown pass with two seconds left.

“They were moving the ball on first down, they were second and short and they were getting third-and-2 or 3 where they’ve got their whole playbook,” senior linebacker Rob Caldwell said. “Coach [Buddy] Green challenged us to get down there and stop them on first and second down.”

With the win Navy has won the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy outright for the fourth consecutive season — a first in program history. It also means the Class of 2007 has finished their careers as the first group to go 8-0 against Army and Air Force.

Army concludes its season at 3-9, one game shy of last season’s win total. While the Black Knights seniors failed to defeat the Mids, Army clearly played its best game against Navy in the Paul Johnson era.

“I am a little disappointed in our season, I really am.” Army coach Bobby Ross said. “I think we are better. … I don’t know how close we were to Navy last year or even the first year [of Ross’ three-year tenure], but we were closer this year.”

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