The Black Knights have turned the game around

Army goes for 3rd straight win vs. Navy

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS -

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.

AP FILE PHOTO

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.

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