Navy Upsets Army 17-13 in Rivalry Game Behind Tai Lavatai's 2 TDs

Erin WalshDecember 11, 2021

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 11: Tai Lavatai #1 of The Navy Midshipmen drops back to pass during the first half of a game against the Army Black Knights at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The Navy Midshipmen won their second straight game on Saturday with a 17-13 win over the Army Black Knights at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was Navy's first victory over Army since 2019, as the Black Knights took last year's rivalry game 15-0. 

It was also Navy's second win in the series over the last six years as Army has dominated the annual rivalry game as of late.  However, Navy won 14 straight games against Army between 2002-15. Maybe the tides are beginning to shift in the Midshipmen's favor. 

Navy finishes the regular season with a 4-8 record, while Army finishes 8-4.

Notable Stats

Tai Lavatai, QB, NAVY: 4/6 for 82 YDS and 20 CAR for 62 YDS and 2 TDs

Christian Anderson, QB, ARMY: 7/15 for 108 YDS and 9 CAR for 67 YDS, 1 TD

Carlinos Acie, RB, NAVY: 9 CAR for 34 YDS 

Jakobi Buchanan, RB, ARMY: 4 CAR for 24 YDS

Mychal Cooper, WR, NAVY: 1 REC for 28 YDS

Recap and Reaction

Saturday's Army-Navy game began with some pretty great trash-talking ahead of kickoff. 

College GameDay @CollegeGameDay

Plz don’t do this 😅 <a href="https://t.co/fTGMKj7vIR">pic.twitter.com/fTGMKj7vIR</a>

College GameDay @CollegeGameDay

We refuse to believe this is true <a href="https://t.co/K6qSVAgu6K">pic.twitter.com/K6qSVAgu6K</a>

College GameDay @CollegeGameDay

THE WORST 🥶 <a href="https://t.co/KjvOE6ydko">pic.twitter.com/KjvOE6ydko</a>

College GameDay @CollegeGameDay

🤨 <a href="https://t.co/1eNKYJQXlW">pic.twitter.com/1eNKYJQXlW</a>

College GameDay @CollegeGameDay

Respectfully 😂🤣 <a href="https://t.co/MJ49t9JaeW">pic.twitter.com/MJ49t9JaeW</a>

Aside from the trash-talking, it was a well-fought contest between Army and Navy, and the Black Knights kicked things off with a 56-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Christian Anderson. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

CHRISTIAN ANDERSON IS GONE. TOUCHDOWN ARMY. <a href="https://t.co/xwiI0p0Dia">pic.twitter.com/xwiI0p0Dia</a>

However, Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai responded with an 8-yard rushing score of his own on the following drive to tie the game at seven a piece. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Tai Lavatai would not be denied. <a href="https://t.co/5mH7Glq3Lq">pic.twitter.com/5mH7Glq3Lq</a>

Army outplayed Navy in the first half of Saturday's rivalry game. The Black Knights had 175 yards of total offense compared to the Midshipmen's 130 yards. Army also had eight first downs compared to Army's five, and Anderson undoubtedly outplayed Lavatai. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

PERFECT. PUNT. <a href="https://t.co/GMKVSrelqw">pic.twitter.com/GMKVSrelqw</a>

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Army is out here throwing the ball all over the place. <a href="https://t.co/34bdJrdlnF">pic.twitter.com/34bdJrdlnF</a>

Matt Fortuna @Matt_Fortuna

Army enters halftime up 13-7 on the back of two Cole Talley FGs and 148 yards from scrimmage from Christian Anderson, who was 5 of 7 passing in the first half.

Eric Stephen @ericstephen

Early Army-Navy review:<br><br>Hands, Christian Anderson

Bill Wagner @BWagner_CapGaz

Pass defense is really letting <a href="https://twitter.com/NavyFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NavyFB</a> down. QB Christian Anderson has guys running wide-open almost every time he throws the ball.

However, many were quick to note that Lavatai still had a strong first half despite entering the locker room down 13-7, and he didn't disappoint to open up the third quarter. 

Katherine Fominykh @katfominykh

Halftime: Army 13, Navy 7.<br><br>I'm really liking what I'm seeing from Tai Lavatai's passing, I hope we see more.

Bill Wagner @BWagner_CapGaz

What a hard-nosed run by <a href="https://twitter.com/NavyFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NavyFB</a> Tai Lavatai, who scores on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

Lavatai and the Midshipmen came out buzzing after halftime, with a major turning point in the game being the quarterback's two-yard rushing score to help give Navy a 14-13 lead, an advantage they would never surrender. 

CBS Sports @CBSSports

10 Plays. <br>74 Yards. <br>Touchdown. <a href="https://twitter.com/NavyFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NavyFB</a> grabs the lead. <a href="https://t.co/QouhRmxVdK">pic.twitter.com/QouhRmxVdK</a>

Navy then added a field goal with 6:10 remaining in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 17-13, and many praised Lavatai for his second-half performance, which is a big reason why the Midshipmen came out victorious on Saturday.

Zac Celedonia @ZeFlashNFL

This is Tai lavatai’s heisman game

Scott Strasemeier @ScottStras

Tai Lavatai with a block downfield as well to help spring Warren. <a href="https://t.co/eizgc5PhVe">https://t.co/eizgc5PhVe</a>

It should also be noted that the Midshipmen defense stood tall, too, allowing the Black Knights just 102 yards in the second half and forcing the team to punt three straight times before forcing a turnover on downs to seal the win. 

Saturday's game marked Army's lowest scoring output since a 20-14 Oct. 16 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers, further emphasizing how good the Midshipmen defense was at MetLife Stadium.

Player and Coach Reaction

CBS Sports @CBSSports

"It was a mistake." - Ken Niumatalolo confirms the fake punt was an accident. <br><br>Hey, whatever works. <a href="https://t.co/bHKjjfyeLj">https://t.co/bHKjjfyeLj</a> <a href="https://t.co/tyiJVOEggU">pic.twitter.com/tyiJVOEggU</a>

CBS Sports @CBSSports

One of the best traditions in sports. <br><br>Navy earns the right to sing second. <a href="https://t.co/noLZUya4b1">pic.twitter.com/noLZUya4b1</a>

CBS Sports @CBSSports

The bragging rights belong to Navy. <a href="https://t.co/xax3fEDgaq">pic.twitter.com/xax3fEDgaq</a>

What's Next?

While Navy's season is officially over, Army will move on to face Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 22.