PHILADELPHIA — Army stuck with its ground troops Saturday to grind out a 17-3 victory over Navy in the 88th renewal of their football rivalry.
The Cadets ran the ball 72 times for 315 yards out of their wishbone offense and threw only 4 passes against Navy, eventually wearing down the outmanned Midshipmen.
The Cadets (5-6) took an early 3-0 lead on a 40-yard field goal by Bit Rambusch and added fourth-quarter touchdowns runs by Andy Peterson and Tory Crawford.
Their top rusher, Mike Mayweather, carried 25 times for 119 yards.
"Our game plan was to establish the run inside," Mayweather said. "A couple of plays early I wasn't reading the right holes. But it worked later.
"The offense came out more fired up in the second half. Personally I was nervous in the first half."
The Middies (2-9), weakened when two starters on the offensive line were sidelined by an administrative action just before game time, managed only a 30-yard field goal by Ted Fundoukas with 5:01 left.
"Our ability to block and run inside was the key to our offense in the second half," Army Coach Jim Young said. "I told the defense they played the best game since I've been here."
Young earned his third victory in five games against Navy. The victory was Army's third over the Middies in their last four meetings and narrowed Navy's margin in the series to 41-40-7.
The Middies were hurt less than two hours before game time when starting center Matt Felt and guard Joe Brennan were told they couldn't play because of what Navy first-year Coach Elliot Uzelac termed "an administrative matter not related to football."
Minus two of its starters, Navy's line was unable to open holes for its wishbone attack. The Middies gained only 141 yards in 42 rushes and had completed 3 of 5 passes for 59 yards.
Quarterback Alton Grizzard led Navy with 53 yards in 17 carries. Chuck Smith, playing only three weeks after arthroscopic surgery on a knee, ran 13 times for 45 yards.
"Army made the big plays when they had to. And we couldn't," Uzelac said. "They executed on offense and made big plays on defense."
Navy mounted only one serious scoring threat, reaching the Army 13 before Uzelac opted to have Fundoukas kick a field goal on fourth and one.
"We wanted to get three on the board," Uzelac said. "There was plenty of time left. We thought we could hold them and then start a drive to win."
Instead, the Cadets drove for their final touchdown, a seven-yard run by Crawford with 35 seconds left.
Army scored in the first quarter when Crawford, a senior quarterback, led the Cadets from their 30 to a first down at the Navy 26. But the Middies held and Rambusch kicked a 40-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Army dominated play but was unable to score again until Peterson capped a 14-play, 81-yard drive, all on the ground, by scoring from a yard out on a pitch from Crawford early in the final period for a 10-0 lead. During the drive, Peterson gained 32 yards and Mayweather 25 as each carried 4 times.
Navy, whose deepest penetration through the first three quarters was to the Army 42, then moved from its 6 to a first down at the Cadets' 22 before settling for Fundoukas' field goal.
Army took the kickoff and drove 64 yards in 13 plays, capped by Crawford's 7-yard scoring run off the right side with 35 seconds left. The key plays were a 14-yard run by Ben Barnett to the Navy 38 and an 11-yard gain by Mayweather to the eight.