Sunday, December 07, 2008

Views from the Press Box

Commander-in-Chief – President George Bush attended the 109th Army Navy game. Navy is 7-1 in the Army-Navy game while President Bush has been in office. Their only loss came in his first year, 2001. President George W. Bush made an appearance prior to the game that awards a trophy in his name as the head of the nation’s armed forces. The Commander-in-Chief’s trophy is awarded to the winner of the round robin competition involving Army, Navy, and Air Force. President Bush circled the field prior to the game and greeted the Cadets and Mids. He was also was present for the opening coin toss. The President sat on the Army side of the field for the first half and moved to sit with the Midshipmen during the second frame.

Nice change in a great tradition – Army and Navy both sported new uniforms for this game. Nike showed off their new “Enforcer” uniforms for each team.

Building off the strong and unique look that the U.S. Military Academy has traditionally displayed, Army’s football team wore a helmet and pant with a digital print camouflage pattern. The pant featured the name “West Point” along the right side. “Boots on the Ground,” Army’s slogan, ran along the left side of the pant.

In place of the name plate, “Duty, Honor, Country” was displayed on the back of each player’s jersey.

Navy football players wore their traditional helmet. Their jerseys had the United States Marines “globe and anchor” logo, which calls out the connection between the Marine Corps and the Navy. Also, included in the jersey are the shoulder boards, Navy with Gold trim, which depicts the wings of the Blue Angel plane.

Navy wore a replica of the Marine Corps Elegant Dress Pants with the fold and red officer blood stripe running down each pant leg.

I wonder – I wonder if the Mids like playing on a neutral field where they don’t have to do pushups after every Navy score.

Welcome Back – Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada played and started in his first game since the Temple game on November 1. He has been battling a hamstring injury since the preseason.

Coach Green’s D – The Navy defense earned their second straight shutout. The last time Navy had two consecutive shutouts was 1978. That was also the last time that either team was shut out in the Army Navy game. Navy won that year 28-0.

Heavy hearts – It was announced prior to the game that
senior cornerback Rashawn King would not be playing in the game due to the sudden death of his father, Drexel, who suffered a heart attack Thursday night. The team wore a sticker on the back of their helmets with the initials DK inside of a black crown.

Navy Claims Sixth Consecutive Commander in Chief's Trophy

Philadelphia, PA – The 109th installment of the Army Navy game was played in front of a capacity crowd of over 69,000 at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday. Navy, behind an explosive running game and a swarming defense shut out the Black Knights 34-0.

This was the first shutout in an Army Navy game since Navy beat Army 28-0 in 1978.
President George W. Bush made an appearance prior to the game that awards a trophy in his name as the head of the nation’s armed forces.

Shun White got Navy on the board first and set the tone for the rest of the game. Army received the opening kickoff and couldn’t gain a first down. Navy worked to establish their running game early. Eric Kettani and Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada each carried on the first drive and Navy faced a 3rd and 2 from their own 35. On the next play, White took a pitch from Kaheaku-Enhada and raced down the sideline for 65 yards and the game’s first score.

"It settled us down. At the start of the game both sides are really tight," noted head coach Ken Niumatalolo. "There is so much that goes into this game. When you come as a Plebe, the first thing you learn is Go Navy, Beat Army. So you are so tight at the start of the game. That play let us settle down."

Two series later, the Midshipmen got on the board again, this time off the foot of kicker Matt Harmon. Navy started the drive on their own 15 yard line following an Army punt. Kaheaku-Enhada hit Tyree Barnes with a 34 yard pass and Kettani carried five times for 35 yards to put the Mids on the Army six yard line. Harmon split the uprights from 23 yards out to give Navy the 10-0 lead.

White capped off a 13 play, 80 yard drive midway through the second quarter with his second TD of the game. After running the ball 10 of their previous 11 plays, Kaheaku-Enhada hooked up with White for an 18 yard TD giving the Mids a 17-0 lead going into the half.

White, who finished the game with 168 total yards including 148 on the ground, ended the regular season with 1,021 yards. He was the first Midshipman to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season since Kyle Eckel in 2004.

White was pleased with the offense's execution. "That's a big thing that coach talks about in practice. If everyone executes their assignments, our offense cannot be stopped. Today was a good showing."

On their first drive of the second half, the Navy running machine came out hot. Five different ball carriers helped move the ball inside the Army 10 yard line. On the fourteenth play of the drive, Kettani pounded the ball in from the five yard line.

Kettani finished the game with 125 yards on 24 carries. It was the first time this season that Navy had two ball carriers with over 100 yards.

Ram Vela came up big for the Navy defense when he picked off a Chip Bowden pass late in the game and returned it 68 yards for a TD to set the final at 34-0.

Defensive coordinator Buddy Green was pleased with his defense's effort.

"I think it started up front. I thought Nate (Frazier) stepped up. It all starts up front and Nate got some movement and that gave us the chance to have a good day. A lot of guys played well"
"It's fun. It's all to these guys. I didn't play any snaps. It is a tribute to the guys who wear the uniforms. They mad plays, big plays."

Navy next faces a team from the ACC to be determined at the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C. on December 20.