Army beat Navy 17-11 at Gillette Stadium to claim the 10th Commander-In-Chief's Trophy in academy history. It's the first time Army has won the trophy outright since 2020 (it retained the hardware in 2021).
Navy made a late charge in the final seconds of regulation, marching 72 yards down the field in 10 plays while down 8 points. Midshipmen quarterback Tai Lavatai was stuffed at the Black Knights' 1-yard line with 3 seconds on the clock, however, as Army secured the win.
While the game came down to a goal line stand, the definitive moment took place earlier in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-9, Navy's Tai Lavatai dropped back to pass but was met in the backfield by Army linebacker Kalib Fortner, who stripped the ball from Lavatai's hand, picked it up after a bounce on the field and took off for a 44-yard touchdown that gave Army a 17-3 lead and seemed to put the game out of reach.
But this wouldn't be the Army-Navy Game without late drama, now would it?
Army went conservative on defense, and Navy was happy to take advantage, answering with a quick touchdown drive to make it a one-score game. Army compounded matters by going conservative on offense, too. After a couple false starts and three runs to put themselves in fourth-and-3 in Navy territory, the Black Knights opted to punt instead of go for it on fourth down. It was the wrong decision as Army's punt went only 10 yards, and Navy immediately drove 72 yards in the next 90 seconds before Lavatai was stuffed at the goal line in the final seconds.
The Black Knights were led by quarterback Bryson Daily, who finished with 54 yards and a touchdown through the air and 84 yards rushing. When it wasn't Daily toting the rock for Army, running back Kanye Udoh was picking up yardage in chunks, finishing with 88 yards on 13 carries. While Army got the win, it wasn't the most impressive performance from the offense, which reflects the season as a whole.
Army moved to a shotgun offense at the start of the campaign in an attempt to modernize and make the unit more dynamic, but it finished the season with some of the worst numbers of the Jeff Monken era when it comes to stats like success rate and points per possession. It also lost yardage on plays far more often than it has in the past. Of course, given the long history of an option offense at Army, it'd be ridiculous not to expect there to be an adjustment period. While the overall numbers weren't there this season or Saturday, the flashes of what this offense can be moving forward made themselves apparent often enough to believe in the long-term direction.
For Navy, the offense struggled most of the afternoon. Xavier Arline started at quarterback, but the Midshipmen never got anything going with him at the helm. Lavatai took over for good late in the first half, and while he was able to provide a spark, it just wasn't enough to overcome the 10-point deficit Navy faced when he entered the game. Lavatai finished with 74 yards rushing and 179 yards through the air with a touchdown, and he did most of his damage in the game's final minutes. It was an impressive performance by Lavatai as he shrugged off his early struggles and nearly rallied his team to a stunning victory.
The win is Army's second straight over Navy and sixth win in the last eight meetings. Navy still leads the all-time series 62-55-7.