Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds isn’t especially tall or big, but is a special talent and acted like one when he faced Army in the 114th edition of this classic, as he dashed past defenders and accounted for three rushing touchdowns, en route to a 34-7 romp as the Midshipmen claimed their 12th win in a row over the Black Knights (3-9) last Saturday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, which was blanketed by snow in the opening half, and steady rain in the second half.
Reynolds completed two of seven attempts for 10 yards, but ran for a game-best 136 yards on 30 carries, and now holds the single-season touchdown mark by a quarterback with 29.
His second score broke the record of 27 held by Kansas State’s Collin Klein in 2011, and Navy’s Ricky Dobbs in 2009.
In fact, six times this season Reynolds has exceeded 100 yards rushing, and twice churned out more than 200 yards, including a high of 240 against San Jose State in a triple-overtime, 58-52, victory when he tallied seven touchdowns.
“It was fun, storybook Army-Navy. It was cold, snowing, grind-it-out kind of game. You could not ask for too much more,’’ said Reynolds, a sophomore. “Army played us tough and they played well.”
Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo was pleased with the result. “I’m so proud of the seniors,’’ he said. “This is a great game with a lot of tradition.”
When Reynolds, who has rushed for 1,260 yards and passed for 1,038 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions, scored on a 47-yard sprint and 2:38 left in the second quarter, the Midshipmen (8-4), who will play Middle Tennessee State in the Armed Forces Bowl, moved ahead, 17-0.
Reynolds’ record-setting touchdown came with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter, covered 11 yards and capped an eight-play, 53-yard drive.
For good measure, Reynolds, who had 73 yards on the ground at the half, caught the two-point conversion from Brendan Dudeck that made it 28-7.
Reynolds (5-foot-11 and 185 pounds) also got into the end zone on a one-yard run and 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter that was made possible after Army quarterback Angel Santiago fumbled after being tackled by Cody Peterson and was recovered by Will Anthony.
Navy, which had no turnovers, took a 3-0 lead on Nick Sloan’s 20-yard field goal with 1:22 remaining in the opening quarter, and was set up by running back Quinton Singleton (61 yards on four carries), who supplied a 58-yard bolt that placed the football at the Army four-yard line.
The 60-yard, five-play drive was helped after quarterback A.J. Schurr fumbled which Brendon Clements forced and Chris Johnson scooped up. Schurr was taken out of the game and never returned.
When Reynolds drove Navy 51 yards on 11 plays, Sloan ended the trek with a 34-yard field goal late in the third quarter as the Middies led, 20-7.
Santiago, who had 40 yards rushing on 10 carries, completed five of 10 passes for 50 yards, but was picked off by Clements in the second quarter.
Navy (343 total net yards) forged a 10-0 lead after running back Noah Copeland (54 yards on five carries) located the end zone after a 39-yard gallop and 8:15 left before the half.
Santiago scored the Black Knights’ lone touchdown when he scampered in from four yards out and 6:36 left in the third quarter, capping a 71-yard, seven-play march and getting within 17-7. Army had three turnovers and 157 total yards.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.