Mids snap Black Knights’ 3-game win streak in 120th game of ri­valry

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Bill Wag­ner

PHILADEL­PHIA – It was the Mal­colm Perry show in the 120th edi­tion of the Army-Navy foot­ball game.

Perry de­liv­ered a spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance to punc­tu­ate his fi­nal ap­pear­ance in the ri­valry, adding to his grow­ing leg­end while set­ting a slew of records.

Work­ing pri­mar­ily out of a shot­gun for­ma­tion, Perry ripped off long run af­ter long run while draw­ing gasps from the sell­out crowd of 68,075 with his blaz­ing speed and jaw-drop­ping moves.

Perry es­tab­lished a ca­reer-high with 304 rush­ing yards and scored two touch­downs to lift No. 23 Navy to a 31-7 vic­tory over archri­val Army on Satur­day af­ter­noon at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field. Sopho­more full­back Ja­male Carothers con­trib­uted 74 rush­ing yards and scored two touch­downs for the Mid­ship­men, who snapped a three-game los­ing streak to the Black Knights.

“Just su­per proud of our team and so happy for our se­niors,” Navy coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “This didn’t hap­pen today. It hap­pened back in Jan­uary with our se­nior lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to be suc­cess­ful.”

Ni­u­mat­alolo, who fought back tears dur­ing his post-game press con­fer­ence, be­came the all-time win­ningest coach in the 120-year history of the Army-Navy se­ries. The 54-year-old Hawai­ian is now 9-4 against the archri­val and sur­passed Hall of Fame Army head coach Red Blaik (8-8-2) for that ti­tle.

“I’ve been coach­ing in this game a long time and that was a pretty dom­i­nant per­for­mance by our team,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “I’m happy for our se­niors that they could fin­ish off with a win like this and go out the right way.”

Perry’s first touch­down came off an elec­tri­fy­ing 55-yard run and he also broke loose for gains of 44 and 32 yards on the way to be­ing named game’s Most Valu­able Player by the Philadel­phia Sportswrit­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. He added a 15-yard scor­ing scam­per late in the fourth quar­ter to put an ex­cla­ma­tion point on the com­mand­ing win.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound se­nior set an Army-Navy game rush­ing record — over­tak­ing for­mer Navy tail­back Ed­die Mey­ers, who ran for 278 yards in the 1979 game. Perry also sur­passed Mey­ers to be­come the all-time lead­ing rusher in Army-Navy game history.

Mey­ers gained 547 yards in three games from 1979 through 1981, but Perry piled up 606 yards in three games from 2017 to 2019.

Perry also set the Navy sin­gle-sea­son record for rush­ing yards, mov­ing past another leg­endary tail­back in Napoleon Mc­Cal­lum (1981-85), whose to­tal of 1,587 yards had stood since 1983. Perry has 1,804 yards this sea­son and will no doubt add to his record dur­ing the Lib­erty Bowl on Dec. 31.

As if that weren’t enough, Perry es­tab­lished a new Navy sea­son record for to­tal of­fense as he now has 2,831 yards be­tween pass­ing and rush­ing. That broke the mark of 2,595 set by quar­ter­back Will Worth in 2016.

“Mal­colm was un­be­liev­able. That’s God­given. Ei­ther you have that (abil­ity) or you don’t,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said. “He’s just an amaz­ing, amaz­ing run­ner.”

Navy put Perry in the shot­gun and pretty much ran dou­ble-op­tion with the quar­ter­back and Carothers. Perry ei­ther handed off to his full­back or kept the ball him­self.

“It got to the point that I didn’t even see plays, I was just like ei­ther Mal­colm’s car­ry­ing it or Ja­male’s car­ry­ing it. We did some things a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent but we wanted to open up the box and not play this game in a phone booth,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said.

“We wanted to spread things out and let Mal­colm’s and Ja­male’s tal­ents take over.”

Perry’s hero­ics helped Navy (10-2) re­cap­ture the cov­eted Com­man­der-in-Chief’s Tro­phy for the first time since 2015. That 187-pound, three-sided piece of hard­ware will re­side in the ro­tunda of Bancroft Hall for the 11th time since 2003.

“Beat­ing Army… now we are on our way to the White House and we are go­ing to get a ring on our fin­ger,” said out­side line­backer Nizaire Cro­mar­tie, who was part of a se­nior class that sa­vored its first vic­tory over the archri­val. “I think the CIC means the world to the guys on this team.”

As a sopho­more, Perry started at quar­ter­back and rushed for 250 yards in the snow dur­ing a heart­break­ing 14-13 loss to Army.

He broke loose for a 68-yard touch­down run, but most will re­mem­ber how he was tripped up by de­fen­sive end John Voit on the way to scor­ing a sec­ond touch­down.

Last sea­son, Perry played slot­back and was lim­ited to 52 rush­ing yards as the Black Knights beat the Mids, 17-10. Need­less to say, the Ten­nessee na­tive was thrilled to fi­nally get a win in the se­ries.

“It means the world. Com­ing into the sea­son, per­son­ally, it was my big­gest goal,” Perry said. “This was the big­gest game I have ever played in my life. We didn’t win the last three games (against Army), but that makes this win even more sweet.”

Navy’s de­fense was equally re­spon­si­ble for the lop­sided vic­tory, lim­it­ing Army (5-8) to 148 yards of to­tal of­fense. The Black Knights scored off a 78-yard drive early in the first quar­ter then man­aged only 70 yards the rest of the way.

Sopho­more nose tackle J’ar­ius War­ren had a mon­strous out­ing, shed­ding block­ers on the way to a ca­reer-high 11 tack­les. The Mid­ship­men recorded eight tack­les for a loss with out­side line­backer Jake Springer re­spon­si­ble for 2 ½ by him­self.

Army coach Jeff Monken pulled some­what of a sur­prise by start­ing fresh­man Chris­tian An­der­son at quar­ter­back. An­der­son was im­pres­sive in lead­ing the one long scor­ing drive, but his in­ex­pe­ri­ence showed as the game pro­gressed.

Af­ter­ward, Monken re­vealed that se­nior Kelvin Hop­kins, who started ev­ery game this sea­son in which he was healthy, was un­able to go due to a ham­string in­jury suf­fered in the Hawaii loss on Nov. 30. While most of the ques­tions in Monken’s press con­fer­ence were about the Army quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion, he thought this game was more about the Navy sig­nal-caller.

“I couldn’t be hap­pier to see Mal­colm Perry grad­u­ate. He is a ter­rific player and ran through us today. There wasn’t much we could do about it,” Monken said.

Army struck first with the type of smash-mouth, time-con­sum­ing drive that can crush the spirit of a de­fense. An­der­son did most of the dam­age as the Black Knights marched 78 yards in 18 plays, tak­ing 10 min­utes and 41 sec­onds off the clock.


Navy quar­ter­back Mal­colm Perry runs for a touch­down against Army on Satur­day in Philadel­phia. Perry rushed for 304 yards on 29 car­ries in a record-set­ting per­for­mance.


Navy’s Ja­cob Springer cel­e­brates a sack in the sec­ond quar­ter of the 120th Army-Navy foot­ball game Satur­day at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field in Philadel­phia.

Navy cel­e­brates quar­ter­back Mal­colm Perry’s run for a 55-yard touch­down in the first quar­ter, one of Perry’s two touch­downs in the Mid­ship­men’s vic­tory.

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