PHILADELPHIA -- Army defeated Navy 14-13 in a classic snow-covered Army-Navy Game after the Midshipmen missed a 48-yard kick as time expired. The victory clinched Army's first Commander in Chief's Trophy since 1996.
The snow never stopped falling on the 68,625 in attendance here at Lincoln Financial Field for the 118th Army-Navy Game. With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in attendance, West Point beat the Naval Academy for the second year in a row after Army had lost to their rival 14 straight years.
Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw marched the Black Knights down the field late in the fourth quarter and scored what proved to be the winning touchdown. The Black Knights had not scored since Army running back Darnell Woolfolk scored on a 3-yard run on Army's opening possession.
"They found a way, we had the drive to take the lead and got the stops we needed to right there at the end. It was a great day to celebrate this team and all they've done," Army coach Jeff Monken said.
Navy controlled most of the game as freshman quarterback Malcolm Perry ran up and down the field for 250 yards and one touchdown. But each time it looked like Navy would take control of the game, Army's defense limited Navy to field goals and kept the Black Knights close.
Perry led Navy down the field on the game's final drive converting a fourth down with a 12-yard run after fumbling the snap. Navy drove the ball all the way down to the Army 23-yard line and it appeared the Midshipmen would have a short field goal attempt to win.
However, two false start penalties pushed the Midshipman back and forced junior kicker Bennett Moehring to connect on a 48-yard field goal in swirling winds and snow falling. The kick had the distance, but it curled left outside the upright.
"A couple of penalties there at the end killed us," said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. "We had half the team out there trying to clear the snow off. But the kid barely missed it."
Army fans and cadets spilled out of the stands to celebrate with their team. The players lined up for the traditional singing of the service academies' alma maters with Army singing second for the second year in a row.
Monken said his team never doubted they would win the game.
"We've overcome some deficits this year and made some plays at the end of games to help us win enough that our guys just believe that if there's a second on that clock, we're going to find a way to win," Monken said.
Bradshaw proved to be the hero for the second year in a row. Last year, he led the Black Knights late in the fourth quarter on an 80-yard drive with six minutes left. This year, he led Army on a 65-yard drive to win.
He rushed for 95 yards on 21 attempts and completed his only pass attempt of the day for 20 yards. On the winning drive he rushed for 47 yards and scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard dive.
Bradshaw and West Point leaders faced questions Saturday morning after the Daily Beast reported on an investigation into a rape allegation against Bradshaw in 2014. West Point released a statement Saturday morning saying the allegation had been unfounded and Bradshaw had been cleared of wrongdoing.
Monken came to his senior captain's defense after the game calling him an "incredible leader" and a "wonderful kid." Monken said he was "incredibly proud of him, he had a great game on this day."
Navy had dominated the rivalry for years, but Monken has turned the Army program around leading them to two bowl games in a row, and more importantly, two wins over Navy. Winning the Commander in Chiefs Trophy is the team's latest achievement after also beating Air Force earlier in the season.
On the flip side, the loss to Army is the latest in a disappointing finish to Navy's season. Navy qualified for a bowl game, but has lost six of their last seven games.
Despite the loss, Perry ended the debate over who should lead the Midshipmen at quarterback. Perry almost single handedly led Navy to victory accounting for 250 of the team's 294 total yards even though Navy coaches did not publicly name a starter before the game.
Perry said the snow didn't play as big of a factor in the game as he expected.
"Obviously, you are cognizant of it when you are making cuts and stuff like that. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," he said. "It was snow. It doesn't really affect the game."
In the third quarter, Perry looked like he was about to put Navy up by 10 points when he sprinted out for a 46-yard gain. Army senior defensive lineman and team captain John Voit desperately reached out and tripped him up before he could reach the end zone. Army's defense stiffened, held Navy to a field goal, and kept the Black Knights within reach.
"I think I got enough of him so he slipped in the snow. Thank god he went down," Voit said.
Wearing their all white uniforms to commemorate the 10th Mountain Division, Army's players blended in with the snowy conditions all afternoon. After Navy's kick landed, the team sprinted to the center of the field to celebrate.
The Black Knights have regained control of the rivalry and allowed their seniors to finish their careers singing second for the second year in a row.
"Being able to win the [Commander in Chiefs Trophy] and bring it back to the program when it hasn't been here since 1996 is an unbelievable feeling. We couldn't be more proud as a team and a program," Voit said.