12:00 PM ET, December 6, 2008
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
PHILADELPHIA -- The president flipped the coin, Navy's Leap Frogs parachuted onto the field, and Army unveiled its cool new dress code.
Air Force One flew over the stadium and patriotism stretched from end zone to end zone. Then came what's become another tradition: a Navy rout.
With President George W. Bush in attendance, Shun White ran for 148 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead bowl-bound Navy over Army 34-0 Saturday for its seventh straight win in the storied rivalry between service academies.
"We know what those guys go through. They go through the same things we do," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "For this one game, we're trying to beat each other's brains in. After it's all said and done, we know we'll be standing shoulder-to-shoulder to serve our country."
Army (3-9) debuted camouflage helmets, pants and uniform numbers, and the backs of their jerseys had the words "Duty. Honor. Country."
The Black Knights' makeover was sharper than their play. Navy (8-4) got a 65-yard TD run from White on the third play of the game and improved to 53-49-7 overall against Army for its biggest lead in a series that began in 1890.
"You don't want to be the class that drops the ball," White said.
Navy has won 13 straight times against Air Force and Army since 2002, outscoring the programs 441-205 during the streak. The Commander-in-Chief's Trophy remains docked with Navy.
Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada said there was a simple explanation why the Mids have been able to separate themselves from the other two academies.
"I think it's work ethic," he said. "Not to take anything away from them, but we pride ourselves on being the hardest working team out there. It's the only thing that gives us a chance."
Eric Kettani rushed for 125 yards and a TD for Navy and linebacker Ram Vela returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown with 31 seconds left.
The Mids have already accepted a bid to play in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 20 in Washington, their sixth straight bowl game.
Niumatalolo didn't skip a beat in his first year leading the Mids since Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech. Niumatalolo became the second service academy coach to win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in his first year, joining Navy's George Welsh in 1973.
Some Navy fans held a sign that read: "Congress, bail out Army!"
Army's Collin Mooney gained 1 yard on the final carry of the game to finish with 54 yards rushing and set the program's single-season rushing record with 1,339 yards.
"It hurts too much losing to Navy. I didn't care about the record," he said.
Army struggled in last year's 38-3 loss in Baltimore and was shut out in the patriotic series for the first time since a 28-0 loss in 1978.
The series has become increasingly lopsided, often making the pregame pageantry the most memorable part of the day.
Bush was mostly cheered by the crowd of 69,144 at Lincoln Financial Field and heard chants of "USA! USA! USA!" as he walked to midfield for the ceremonial coin toss. On his way, he stopped to kick a football on a tee. The playful boot went about 15 yards.
Bush, attending his third Army-Navy game, gave both teams pep talks and watched each half from a different side in support of both service academies.
He left before the fourth quarter, and told CBS that he appreciated the chance "to come and be with people who will be joining the finest military in the history of the world."
No matter where Bush saw, he saw White put on quite a show. The game's MVP quickly put Navy ahead, sprinting 65 yards down Navy's sideline for a 7-0 lead.
"I told Coach if he gave me the chance with the ball, I could take one to the house," he said.
White delivered again in the second quarter when he caught a pass from Kaheaku-Enhada around the 10, then coasted into the end zone for an 18-yard TD catch that made it 17-0 at halftime.
White, 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, rushed for 138 yards in the first half and went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season.
"I'm very disappointed for the seniors. I think they deserved better than going out like that," Army coach Stan Brock said. "I'm disappointed for the corps. For them to come down here, it hurts when we're not competitive."
When Kettani scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter to make it 24-0, the game was all but over. Matt Harmon kicked field goals of 23 and 36 yards.
"The first day you come here it's, 'Go Navy. Beat Army,'" Niumatalolo said.
The Black Knights missed two prime chances in the first half to score. The first came after a bad snap and punt from the Mids gave Army the ball on their own 46. Army only gained 3 yards, though, and punted.
Then Pat Mealy broke a pair of tackles and returned a kick 72 yards down to Navy's 27 that electrified the crowd. Again, Army couldn't convert and got nothing on a fake field goal attempt.
Navy played without cornerback Rashawn King, who returned home to Raleigh, N.C., following the death of his father. Drexel King had a heart attack Thursday and the Mids played with a "DK" sticker on the back of their helmets.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||10-17||3-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-4|
|TD||12:08||Shun White 65 Yd Run (Matt Harmon Kick)||7||0|
|FG||02:59||Matt Harmon 23 Yd||10||0|
|TD||03:18||Shun White 18 Yd Pass From Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (Matt Harmon Kick)||17||0|
|TD||06:56||Eric Kettani 5 Yd Run (Matt Harmon Kick)||24||0|
|FG||11:02||Matt Harmon 36 Yd||27||0|
|TD||00:31||Ram Vela 68 Yd Interception Return (Matt Harmon Kick)||34||0|