EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- While close games have been a
tradition in the annual Army-Navy game, Midshipmen quarterback
Craig Candeto made sure there was nothing traditional about
Candeto set a school record and tied a national mark with six
rushing touchdowns, and he passed for another to lead Navy past
Army 58-12 in one of the more lopsided of the 103 meetings between
the service academies.
Candeto tied the Division I-A record for most rushing TDs by a
quarterback, set by Air Force's Dee Dowis against San Diego State
to open the 1989 season. Candeto scored on three 1-yard runs and
from 42, 7 and 3 yards.
"It's pretty special,'' Candeto said. "It humbles me to know
there are so many great players that have played throughout this
tradition. For me to have this record, I'm really at a loss for
His performance gave the Midshipmen (2-10) a triumphant end to
an otherwise forgettable season, in which they'd lost 10 straight
Navy's point total was the most in the game's history, and the
46-point margin was the second-largest in the series, behind a 51-0
Navy win in 1973.
The teams usually don't score much at all when they play each
other. Before Saturday, Navy averaged 13.7 points in the game,
while Army averaged 12.8.
Navy's 508 yards of total offense and 421 rushing yards are a
game record, and Candeto's touchdowns and point total were the most
by a player in the series.
"I couldn't be prouder of our team,'' said Navy coach Paul
Johnson, who became the first coach of either school to win in his
debut of this game since Navy's Gary Tranquill in 1982. "They came
out and played with heart and focus.''
Although the game paired two 1-10 teams, the meaning of
Army-Navy goes far beyond football. Last year's game was unusually
emotional following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and this year's
matchup took on added importance because of a possible war with
Before the game started, a videotaped message of President
George W. Bush was shown, in which he thanked the Army and Navy
players for their service.
"I'm proud of every Cadet and Midshipman,'' Bush said. "You
are devoted to serving your country and your fellow citizens. You
will join the finest military in the world, and throughout your
careers, you will keep the peace and defend freedom.''
Candeto echoed Bush's sentiments.
"We're not just playing for the Academy,'' Candeto said.
"We're playing for all the people who have fought and died for our
freedoms. It's bigger than us. We're playing on a field for people
who are fighting overseas for us.
"Football is small in the whole realm of things. It makes you
play that makes harder. It's about service and duty.''
Although Army still leads the series 49-47-7, the Black Knights
(1-11) had trouble coming to grips with such an embarrassing loss.
"I'm hurt -- embarrassed as a matter of fact,'' said Army
quarterback Reggie Nevels, who went 15-of-27 for 171 yards with a
touchdown pass. "Losing a game like that has great impact on my
pride. Losing a rivalry game like that to anybody hurts pretty
The Midshipmen gained a season-best 421 yards on the ground.
Candeto had only 103 of those yards on 18 carries, but he helped
Navy dominate from the start.
The junior only needed the first half to tie the touchdown
record with a pair of 1-yard runs, a 42-yard run and a 7-yarder
just before halftime.
He set the record with a 3-yard run on the first possession of
the third quarter, but he wasn't done scoring. Candeto connected on
a 23-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lane less than three minutes later
to continue the rout.
Candeto added a 1-yard run for his seventh score of the day.
Candeto scored 36 points before being pulled with three minutes
left in the third quarter. He finished the season with 16 rushing
touchdowns, tied for second on the school single-season list with
Chris McCoy (1996).
"Craig did a great job,'' Johnson said. "The way we did the
game plan, when we got down to do the goal line, we had most of our
stuff for Craig to carry the ball.''
His point total was the second-highest by a Navy player, behind
Bill Ingram's 38 points against Villanova in 1917.
Navy, which scored on its first eight possessions, improved to
3-1 when this game is played at Giants Stadium. New Jersey
officials are trying to bring more games in the series to the
stadium; the contract to host the game expires after next year's
contest, to be played in Philadelphia.
Things started poorly for Army and continued to get worse
throughout the game. The Black Knights lost 5 yards on their
opening possession, and they couldn't stop Candeto or the
"It's a difficult day for all of us,'' Army coach Todd Berry
said. "I don't think any of us could have dreamed that the game
could have gone in that direction.''
The win helped ease some of the heartbreak Navy has felt this
season. In its last game, Navy lost 30-27 to Wake Forest when the
Demon Deacons scored with 53 seconds remaining. Against Notre Dame,
the Fighting Irish rallied for 15 points in the final 4:28 to win
The game was played on the 61st anniversary of the attack on
During the prisoner exchange ritual, which is the transfer of
semester exchange students, Navy representatives taking part in the
ceremony spelled out "Let's Roll'' -- in tribute of the now-famous
phrase Todd Beamer said from a phone aboard hijacked United
Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.