The Black Knights have turned the game around
Army goes for 3rd straight win vs. Navy
PHILADELPHIA — A general’s pep talk about actual life-and-death battles emerged as a driving force this season for the Army football team.
In the Army, the general said, you win or you die.
Far more consequential than bragging rights on the football field, but useful for a team that no longer ends its season against Navy.
“It is dramatic,” team captain Cole Christiansen said. “But I think it’s helped us a lot.”
Christiansen has been part of Army’s turnaround from perennial losing program to its lofty status today: ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1996, on a sevengame winning streak, headed to a bowl game and a 7-point favorite in today’s 119th meeting against Navy.
The Army-Navy rivalry has often been known as patriotic — and for years, one of the most lopsided in sports. Navy hooked an anchor to the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with a series-best 14-game winning streak from 2002-2015.
The No. 22 Black Knights (9-2) are on top these days, winners of two straight in the series headed into today’s game at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Last season’s game was an instant classic: Bennett Moehring narrowly missed a 48-yard field goal in the snow on the final play and Army held off Navy 14-13 to win the CIC Trophy for the first time since 1996. Navy leads 60-51-7. President Donald Trump will officiate the coin toss in his first ArmyNavy game as president, where he’s also expected to make an announcement concerning the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Trump was at the 2016 game as president-elect. He will be the 10th sitting president to attend, a tradition that began with Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. Presidents, by custom, sit on the Army side of the stadium for one half and the Navy side for the other.
If history holds, Trump will likely see a close call; the last three games have been decided by a total of nine points and only once since 2010 has a team won by more than a touchdown.
“I feel a great sense of responsibility to make sure we win,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “We’ve won some close games and we didn’t win some of those the first couple of years I was there.”
Navy (3-9) will have its first losing season since 2002 and won just two games in its fourth season in the American Athletic Conference.
“People ask what it was like to have the streak. The streak doesn’t matter,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Just like the loss doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is (today).”
GEORGIA TECH: Georgia native Geoff Collins said Friday he landed his dream job when hired to return as Georgia Tech’s coach.
Most notable among changes the former Temple coach will bring to the Yellow Jackets will be a shift from the triple-option offense used by former coach Paul Johnson the last 11 years.
At his introductory news conference in Atlanta after his hiring was announced early Friday, Collins said he will install “NFL-based” schemes on offense and defense. Those changes will be a challenge for players recruited by Johnson for the run-first attack with its tripleoption plays.
Collins said he began recruiting immediately to prepare for the early signing period that begins on Dec. 19.
“I’ve already been watching tape on the plane,” Collins said, adding “Recruiting matters. That is a huge priority for us.”
LIBERTY: Hugh Freeze has enjoyed the highs of football, such as winning the Sugar Bowl and beating mighty Alabama. He’s also known embarrassment and shame following a personal scandal that cost him his job at Mississippi.
The 49-year-old Freeze believes those experiences will serve him well as the head coach at Liberty, where he’s been given a second chance.
“I believe in teaching young men on our team all of the lessons of when I got it right and when I got it wrong and what the consequences are,” Freeze said at a news conference in Lynchburg, Va..
He was introduced as Liberty’s football coach on campus Friday, calling the opportunity an “unbelievable day for me and my family.” He was emotional at times during a press conference, thanking his family and calling them his heroes.
Freeze will replace Turner Gill, who resigned after his seventh season to spend more time with his ailing wife. The Flames finished 6-6 this season, their first competing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, and were 47-35 under Gill.
KANSAS: Jayhawks running back Pooka Williams was suspended on Friday after his arrest on suspicion of domestic battery, the same day the star freshman was chosen Big 12 newcomer of the year.
Williams, whose given name is Anthony Ray Williams, was involved in a physical confrontation at a Lawrence, Kan., apartment complex Thursday, university police said in a statement. The woman reported minor injuries, and the incident report indicates that she sustained injuries from bodily force.
Williams was interviewed later Thursday and arrested at the university public safety office. He was due in court later Friday, and his case has been forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney.
Coach Les Miles, who was hired just two a couple weeks ago, said in a statement that Williams had been suspended from all team activities pending further investigation.
Williams was a four-star prospect from Boutte, La., who emerged as a star during his first season in Lawrence. He ran for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns after missing the opener amid questions about his eligibility, and he added 289 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Army players and coaches rush onto the field after a 21-17 victory over Navy in 2016, snapping a 14-game losing streak in the series. The Black Knights added a 14-13 win over the Midshipmen last December.