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Quick thoughts: Army-Navy

Bryson Daily’s first Army-Navy start finished with the junior quarterback backpedaling in the end zone to kill the final seconds of Army’s 17-11 win.

Can’t imagine Vegas had that as an option for the ending. The two-point safety may have been a bad beat for some that had under 27.5 points.

Daily pumped his fists as senior tackles Shayne Buckingham and Connor Finucane and freshman center Brady Small were the first to congratulate him.

The Commander in Chief’s trophy is in Army’s possession for the fifth time (fourth outright) in the last seven seasons. Army had claimed the CIC trophy six times (last in 1996) before Jeff Monken arrived in 2014.

Make no mistake about it, Army’s defense won the Black Knights this game. From Kalib Fortner’s strip-sack, 44-yard touchdown to another goal-line stand, Army held its third opponent to one touchdown or less this season and two or those games were Navy and Air Force. Defensive coordinator Nate Woody and his staff (John Loose, Daryl Dixon, Sean Cronin, Danny Verpaele and Justin Weaver) deserve a lot of credit. Fortner’s 44-yard TD was Army’s longest play of the day.

Incredible how for the second straight year, Army’s defense dashed Navy’s hopes of winning with a late goal-line stand. The stop was the definition of every player, “doing their 1/11th. It should be noted that junior defensive end Andre Miller was officially credited with the fourth-down stop. Miller was also one Army’s defensive players, providing an escort for Fortner into the end zone.

Four games into the season, Miller was taken off the field on a stretcher after a friendly fire collision at Syracuse. Asked Jeff Monken after Saturday’s postgame press conference if he thinks about how far Miller has come since that Saturday in Syracuse.

“Every time, he’s in there,” Monken said.

Another feel-good story was senior quarterback Alex Meredith leading Army out to the field, carrying the Black Flag. Meredith experienced a season-ending Achilles injury in the preseason and remained an important part of the Black Knights’ quarterback room. He warmed up, tossing the ball with freshman quarterback Cale Hellums. Meredith posted on his Instagram the wrapping and bandaging it took on his foot to dress for the game.

“This semester was filled with ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it the world,” said Meredith, a former Army Prep quarterback who didn’t come out for football at West Point until his junior season. He had worked his way to No. 2 on depth chart before injury. “I will forever cherish these moments. Remember…You are never out of the fight!”

Senior tight end Josh Lingenfelter had the name “Dwyer” written on his right arm in honoring West Point graduate Stephen Dwyer, who killed in a Black Hawk helicopter training over the Mediterranean Sea last month. Spoke with Lingenfelter about the dedication to Dwyer earlier this week and will have a story up soon.

Did Cooper Allan’s punt hit off Navy returner Amin Hassan’s foot in the third quarter? Watched from the near end and was paying more attention to both reactions of Army’s Ay’Jaun Marshall and Hassan. Marshall, a senior and one of Army’s gunner, thought for sure it did and reacted. The fact that Hassan tried to chase and tackle Marshall also says it did. Stunned called wasn’t reversed in Army’s favor when video appeared to show it kicking off Hassan’s foot. Goes to show whatever call made on the field was going to stand because the review was going to be termed “inconclusive.” It’s on the official, who has the sideline there, to make the correct call and not rely on replay to overturn.

Punting, in general, wasn’t up to par with 27.6 average. Can’t have a 11-yard punt to shorten field for Navy in the final minutes.

Senior kicker Quinn Maretzki completed his Army career with an eighth straight field goal in Commander in Chief’s games. Maretzki’s 25 career field goals are tied for eighth in academy history.

Army’s offense started in the gun option and ran all 61 plays from the shotgun not turning the under-center option it brought back exclusively in its previous game against Coastal Carolina. There was a “wrinkle” with a few plays out of a wildcat with Kanye Udoh and Jakobi Buchanan.

The output wasn’t what Army’s coaching staff had hoped as the Black Knights scored just one offensive touchdown – the fifth time this season the offense has produced a touchdown or less. Army did not have any plays of 20 yards or more. The offense’s longest play was a 15-yard run by Udoh. Certainly, a lot to be reviewed and discussed about the Army’s future in the offseason.

Udoh, a freshman, led the Black Knights in rushing for the fourth time this season.

For those Army football history buffs and longtime fans, Tyson Riley’s touchdown catch gave off Lonesome End vibes (Search Bill Carpenter, Army Football on Google). Seemed like Riley was lined alone near the Army sideline for a good five seconds or so. Daily said the original play was for him to motion Riley in to block on an inside run. But, when Riley remained unguarded, Daily set the offense and the line and fired the ball out to Riley. The throw was a little uncomfortably close to a pick six going the other way for Navy.

The 4-yard touchdown pass was Army’s only offensive touchdown of the game. It was also the eighth Army-Navy game in a row that Army scored the first touchdown and the first TD pass against Navy since 2015 (Chris Carter 39 yards to Edgar Poe).

Posted just before Army’s postgame press conference that the real Commander in Chief’s trophy wasn’t in the building and was still in Air Force’s possession. Guess, if Navy would have beat Army, the trophy would have stayed in Colorado Springs with Air Force retaining it. But, still the right thing was to have the trophy in Foxborough, Black Knight Nation podcast co-host and two-time Army football captain Steve Anderson said. Agree.

Daily and his Army teammates didn’t need much extra motivation for the 124th game in the academy series. But, just in case, a reminder of the rivalry’s importance and what was at stake, was placed in a form of a photo of Air Force holding the Commander in Chief’s trophy in the case where it now will be housed in Army’s facility.

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