- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2008

PHILADELPHIA | By the time Navy linebacker Ram Vela intercepted Army’s Chip Bowden and galloped 68 yards for a touchdown, the result of Saturday’s game was a foregone conclusion.

But it was an appropriate lasting impression of the Army-Navy game considering the way the events of the previous three hours unfolded.

With President George W. Bush in attendance, Navy trounced the Black Knights 34-0 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Midshipmen held Army to 154 total yards and seven first downs. Navy seniors Eric Kettani and Shun White eclipsed 100 yards rushing in the same game for the first time this year.

Navy (8-4) extended its record winning streak in the 109-year-old rivalry to seven and also set a record with its 13th consecutive win over a service academy.

“To play your rivals and shut them out, have a convincing win like that in the most important game of the season is a great tribute to our seniors,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said.

As if facing Army wasn’t due motivation, Navy’s defense played with starting cornerback Rashawn King in mind. King was with his family in Raleigh, N.C., after the unexpected death of his father, Drexel, from a heart attack Thursday.

The Mids established the tone early by forcing a three-and-out on Army’s first drive and never relented. Navy’s defense, which last year allowed 36.4 points a game, hasn’t surrendered a point in the past 131:17. It’s the first time the Mids have posted back-to-back shutouts since they blanked Lehigh and Dartmouth on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 1986.

In their first season running the option, the Black Knights (3-9) seemed a step slow executing their plays and were swarmed by a defense that is well accustomed to counteracting that offense.

“I think the mentality is a big part of it,” linebacker Ross Pospisil said. “I thought we had the talent there last year, but we didn’t have the confidence that we could do it. … We used [last year] to motivate us, but we haven’t dwelled to the past, we’ve kept looking forward. Nothing is more fun than when you’re playing defense and everyone is in sync. That’s what football is all about.”

Pospisil led the way with 12 tackles, but nose guard Nate Frazier was the one who wreaked the most havoc. The 6-foot-3, 287-pound junior, who totaled seven tackles, caused congestion in the middle and Army fullback Collin Mooney and Bowden had little room to maneuver.

Mooney (54 yards) was just about the only positive for the Black Knights. He became the program’s single-season rushing leader - but needed a 1-yard dive on the last play of the game to do so.

“There were a couple times when I was coming downhill for the pitch and nothing could get started because our D-line did such a good job,” safety Jeff Deliz said.

Navy struck on its third play from scrimmage after Army’s first three-and-out. White (13 carries, 148 yards) took a pitch from quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and dashed 65 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. The slotback, who earned game MVP honors, caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to make it 17-0, and Kettani (24 carries, 125 yards) scored from 5 yards out on the opening possession of the second half.

With the win, the Mids also captured their sixth consecutive Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, tying the record set by Air Force from 1997 to 2002.

“Going to the White House [for the presentation ceremony] is always a good thing for our team,” White said. “It’s kind of making out to be a tradition now. It’s going to be fun to meet the new president and hopefully, after I leave, they’ll go and visit him again.”

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