Navy had complete control of this game , going 17-0 before quarterback Ricky Dobbs fumbled a handoff at the start of the second quarter and let Army back into the game. Army’s offense didn’t earn a first down in the first quarter, with just 18 total yards.
Yet Army quarterback Trent Steelman led the Black Knights after the fumble into the endzone with a touchdown pass (that’s right, a pass) to slotback Malcolm Brown. The touchdown was Army’s first against Navy since 2006.
The fumble and resulting touchdown lit a fire under the Army sideline and this crowd, which was looking down the barrel of another blowout. On Navy’s following possession, Dobbs put the ball on the ground for the third time this game and kept momentum on Army’s side.
… And just when it looked like Army was driving in for a touchdown making this the first close game in almost a decade, Steelman fumbled the ball on the one-yard line which Navy safety Wyatt Middleton grabbed in mid-air and returned 99 yards for a touchdown. The fumble sucked the life out of Army’s sideline and the corps of cadets. Middleton has a nose for picking up fumble. He has recovered five fumbles this season, tied for most in the nation.
The happiest player on Navy’s sideline has to be Dobbs, who has done everything he could to keep Army in this game.
Fittingly, the first half ended on a Navy sack. What should concern Army fans most too is it looked like Steelman hurt his leg on the hit. He limped into the locker room behind his teammates. Without Steelman, Army’s chances of coming back might have disappeared.
Army coach Rich Ellerson has to convince his players in the locker room that they can win this game and this isn’t the latest chapter in Navy’s recent domination of this rivalry.