PHILADELPHIA – Walking off the muddy field after another disheartening loss to Navy, embattled Army coach Rich Ellerson probably wondered if he would get another chance to beat his school’s biggest rival.
The Black Knights offered little resistance Saturday in a 34-7 defeat, their 12th straight in a lopsided series that Army once dominated.
“I love that football team,” Ellerson said about his squad. “I want desperately for them to have a better feeling today. That’s what is killing me.”
Army (3-9) fumbled five times and was intercepted once in its fifth straight defeat. Ellerson fell to 0-5 against the Midshipmen and 20-41 overall since taking the job in December 2008.
Whether he will be back in 2014 remains up in the air.
“That’s not my call,” he said. “Obviously, in the body of work, we’ve made some progress. But I wasn’t brought in to make progress. I was brought in to win some football games and beat Navy. I’ve lost to our rival five times.”
Asked if he’s gotten any indication about his future, Ellerson replied, “We haven’t had that conversation. I’m a football coach. It’s hard, but again, it’s not about me, it’s those guys. That’s who I’m sick for right now.”
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns, and Navy (8-4) took a 17-0 halftime lead before coasting to the finish.
“I thought we closed the gap the last two years, but that gap opened back up,” Ellerson said.
Reynolds scored on runs of 47 yards, 11 yards and 1 yard. The sophomore has 29 rushing touchdowns, breaking the single-season mark for a quarterback previously held by Ricky Dobbs (Navy, 2009) and Collin Klein (Kansas State, 2011), both of whom had 27.
His third score — with 46 seconds left in a lopsided game — gave him 176 points for the season, breaking the school record of 174 set by Bill Ingram in 1917.
“The thought did come across my mind to take a knee,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “But then my thoughts went to, I have a kid that has a chance to break a record that’s hard to come by.”
Navy’s effort to score in the final minute was taken in stride by the Black Knights.
“It’s like any rivalry. They were just playing football,” Army linebacker Jarrett Mackey said. “If they wanted to run the ball, it was up to us to stop them. It’s not on them, it’s on us.”
Navy won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the second consecutive season and ninth time in 11 years. The trophy is awarded to the service academy with the most victories in games between Navy, Army and Air Force.
The Midshipmen haven’t lost to Army since 2001 and lead the series 58-49-7. Navy’s 12-game run is the longest in the history of the rivalry that began in 1890.
“I’ve got a lot of good friends on that side,” Niumatalolo said. “They’ve got great kids over there. They go through what our kids go through. But ultimately, I’ve got to think about our team.”
Niumatalolo became the second coach in Navy history to start his coaching career 6-0 against Army, matching Paul Johnson (2002-07).
The Midshipmen will conclude their season in the Armed Forces Bowl against Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 30.
The snow that was forecast in the morning hours began during the pregame pageantry that makes this game a one-of-a-kind spectacle. The snow, along with the freezing temperatures, created an uncomfortable setting for those in the packed stadium.
Many of them left after the first half, which ended with Navy up 17-0.
Brown makes it official
Mack Brown united and revived a divided and dormant Texas football program and coached the Longhorns to their first undisputed national title in 36 years.
Now after four seasons with at least four losses, Brown is stepping down to make way for the next coach to try to push the Longhorns back into the nation’s elite.
Texas announced Saturday night that Brown, who won the 2005 national championship, is retiring after 16 seasons, with his final game to be the Dec. 30 Alamo Bowl against Oregon.