4:00 PM ET, December 6, 2003
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Navy is heading to a bowl game. Army is facing an uncertain future.
Army became the first team to finish 0-13 in major college history. The Black Knights have lost 15 straight, the nation's longest losing streak, and 24 of their last 25. Army, which has lost four of the last five against Navy, still leads the overall series 49-48-7.
"The record doesn't matter," Army senior linebacker Ryan Kent said. "Just to be part of the team and be named captain, it's a great honor. I'm disappointed, but still it's a source of pride for me."
Navy (8-4), coming off a 2-10 season, is heading to the Houston Bowl on Dec. 30 -- its first bowl appearance since 1996. Army has a long way to go before it can think about the postseason.
The Black Knights fired coach Todd Berry after an 0-6 start and interim coach John Mumford won't be considered after going 0-7. Published reports this week said Frank Solich, fired by Nebraska last Saturday, turned down the job.
"There's a good team in there in those kids. I couldn't get it out of them," Mumford said. "They need confidence. They need to win. They are a great group of young men. It's been an honor to work with them."
Army kept it close early, but fell apart in the second half. Navy scored 27 straight points, pulling away on TD runs of 12 yards and 16 yards by Eckel in the fourth quarter.
Navy quarterback Craig Candeto had 58 yards rushing to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Candeto and Eckel, who has 1,178 yards rushing, became the first tandem in Navy history to each surpass 1,000 yards in the same season. Navy had 359 yards rushing.
Army quarterback Zac Dahman threw for 115 yards and two interceptions.
Navy took the opening kick of the second half and drove 80 yards to take a 20-6 lead. Roberts ran in from the 2 for his second TD. Two plays earlier, Roberts made a superb, tumbling, one-handed catch on a 20-yard pass to give the Midshipmen a first down at Army's 5.
Eckel's 16-yard TD run made it 27-6 early in the fourth and his 12-yard TD run provided the final margin.
While this game always has significant meaning, it took on added importance this season because of the war in Iraq. It was the first time the game was played at the new Lincoln Financial Field, and it'll be in Philadelphia four times during a five-year span, from 2004-08. Baltimore will be the site of the 2007 game.
"This game is important anyway, but (the war) gives it a little extra," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "Last night at dinner we had a flag sent to us that flew over the airport in Baghdad. That they thought enough to do that, it tells you the military overseas and everywhere can stop for three, fours hours and it's like being home."
Navy took a 7-0 lead on its first possession as Roberts scored on a 1-yard TD run. After Army's defense stopped Candeto on a second-down carry from the 1, Eckel took a pitch, sprinted around the right side and ran untouched into the end zone.
Army cut it to 7-6 on a 1-yard TD run by Carlton Jones in the second quarter. The Black Knights botched the extra point when the snap was mishandled and holder Wesley Willard was tackled well short of the end zone.
Army's scoring drive was set up by a failed fake punt by the Midshipmen. Punter John Skaggs' pass to Vaughn Kelley on fourth-and-11 fell incomplete, giving the Black Knights the ball at their own 49.
The victory gave Navy the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the best record in games between the three service academies, for the first time since 1981.
"It's huge," Candeto said. "It's something none of us have experienced."
The Midshipmen beat Army 58-12 last season in East Rutherford, N.J. It was the second-most lopsided margin in the series.