By Leo Haggerty
Archived under Featured Articles – College & Army-Navy Game

Below is the post-game musings of Ken Podolak who just happens to be our most veteran correspondent.  Ken has been with Knights Sports Productions since it’s inception and my “brother from another mother” since 1971.

As you will see when you read his reflection of the contest, “Vern” has an unique ability to combine hard-hitting analysis with an occasional shot of pure levity.  Enjoy.

120th Meeting of Army Navy – Post-Game Report

December 17, 2019

The Game Inside the Game

On the field, after the game and right after the traditional singing of schools’ songs by each squad, I crossed paths with Malcolm Perry, Game MVP, and congratulated him on his record-breaking day.  He wasn’t interested in talking about his records but rather, he was more pleased with getting the “W” and posing with his mates for some post-game photos.  How appropriate for an ultimate team player and how refreshing to hear a mature celebration theme.

Remember this is coming from a player who switched positions in his senior year from slot back to quarterback…and produced a record-breaking season…now that is leadership.  From the singing and celebrating the excitement on the field melted into the calm quiet atmosphere of the after-game presser, some thoughts occurred to me that most missed in the presser.  Most focused on Perry in the press conference and rightly so, but I will remember the turning point in the game which was 10 seconds left before halftime.

Navy stalled to a 4th and goal inside the five…and Navy calls for running the “Navy Special” mimicking the “Philly Special” play made famous by the Philadelphia Eagles 2017 Super Bowl victory over New England’s Patriots and arguably the single greatest play in Super Bowl history.  On that play, the backup quarter back audibled and a direct snap occurred to a backup running back.  The pigskin was then flipped to a back up tight end, who threw a touch down pass to the back up quarter back in the end zone much to the surprise of the Patriot defense.

This takes creativity, practice, execution, and timing.  In this game, Navy’s converted quarterback took the snap, flipped it to the reversing receiver Chance Warren who threw a touchdown pass to fullback Jamale Carothers.  That pass, and I am using that word with the loosest of context,  seemed to have about a six second hang time, for the go ahead score and with that play, the day became longer for the Black Knights.

The pass by wideout Chance Warren would be Navy’s only pass attempt and completion on the day…and it wasn’t even thrown by the quarterback.  During the post-game press conference I asked Perry to take us inside the huddle when the “Navy Special” was called and he calmly said they had practiced it all week leading up to the game so he had no worries that they wouldn’t be able to execute the play and I suspect that the play call in the huddle was just as calm as Perry relayed it to the gathered press.  It turned out to be the turning point in the game.  For me, after this play, Navy steamed away in the second half.

I must give “props” to the Black Knights for starting #13, Christian Anderson, for the injured #8 Kelvin Hopkins Jr.  No pressure on the young man…just walk into the starting quarterback position in the Army-Navy game as your first start this season.  Anderson and his mates were prepared and engineered an 18 play 10 minute and 41 second scoring drive that ate up the entire first quarter and seemed to puzzle the Navy defense since they didn’t even see his name on the depth chart yet alone scout his tendencies.  The drive was Army’s longest of the season.  In my opinion, Army needed to limit the offensive possessions by the Navy and they were successful in executing that strategy to perfection in the first quarter…but not so much after that as their drives fizzled for the rest of the game.  Quarter 2  was punt, punt.  Quarter 3 was punt, punt.  Quarter 4 turnover on downs, fumble and interception.  Are you catching my drift here?

However, I also must recognize that Navy’s defensive front and line backers probably deserved more credit than they got for adjusting in the second, third and fourth quarter.  That led to shutting out the Black Knights and paving the way for Perry’s record setting day.  Nose guard #99 Jackson Pittman and defensive tackle #94 J’arius Warren combined for over 16 tackles, and linebacker and defensive back standouts #54 Diego Fagot, #10 Kevin Brennan, and #1 Jacob Springer contributed about 25 tackles on the day as a group which resulted in providing the ball to the offense without yielding a score.  The team from Navy captured the day by a score of 31 to 7 and, by doing so, also took back the Commander In Chief trophy to Annapolis and began to focus forward on New Year’s Eve and the Liberty Bowl to conclude their season…but Navy knows that their brothers from West Point are already listing the lessons learned this year and planning how to take back that trophy…

Pure competition generates adrenaline and enables the human body to perform at very high levels under stressful situations.  That’s why we love to play and/or watch events like this.  Each year these programs pride themselves in preparing and performing their best….and then there is always that moment of clarity during the singing after the game that generates a surge of confidence that you can feel when you are there on the field with them that these programs are preparing participants and their peers for situations way bigger than today’s game.

Submitted by Ken Podolak on December 17, 2019.

Dedicated to the memory of the following Armed Services Members.

Edward A. Podolak, retired USN Tin Can Sailor

Leo Haggerty Sr., retired USN Submariner

Domenic Campisi, retired Army Staff Sergeant

Frances Baillargeon-Campisi, retired WAC

Robert E. Grow, retired USN Radioman

You are all missed dearly…but not forgotten especially on this day.