FOXBOROUGH — Amid scores of cadets and midshipmen in the lower bowl of Gillette Stadium, Army beat Navy 17-11 in the 124th edition of “America’s Game.”
It was the third time in history this venerable rivalry has been played outside the Mid-Atlantic region, and the first since the 1930s.
A whopping 87.3% of the Army offense was generated by two players: running back Kanye Udoh and quarterback Bryson Daily. Udoh ran the ball 13 times for 88 yards; Daily added 84 yards on 27 carries.
Army got on the board first with a Tyson Riley touchdown catch in the second quarter, and added a field goal to make it 10-0 entering halftime. Navy got on the scoreboard with a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Army linebacker Kalib Fortner stripped Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai of the ball with just under 5 minutes to play in the fourth. The big man scooped it up and ran it into the end zone to put Army up 17-3 after the point after.
With 2:47 to play in the fourth quarter, Lavatai connected with wide receiver Jayden Umbarger for a 14-yard TD pass to make it 17-9 (the two-point conversion was no good).
Navy leads the all-time series 62-55-7, but the Black Knights have now won two in a row. And fans didn’t want to wait to celebrate this year.
With a goal-line stand as time expired under review, some of the cadets tried to rush the field while officials checked the clock.
Once the score was final (after a late Navy safety), it was time to flood the field and warm up those windpipes.
“Sing Second” is one of the most famous traditions from the Army-Navy game. The alma mater of the losing team is sung first with all players in attendance, followed by the alma mater of the winning team. On Saturday at Gillette, the Navy alma mater rang out as midshipmen joined in chorus. It was quickly followed by a hearty version of the Army alma mater, ending with a loud “Go Army, Beat Navy!” cheer.
“America’s Game” rarely heads on the road. But Foxborough is the first stop on a five-year, five-city tour bringing the Midshipmen and Black Knights to iconic locations around the country.
Army was the favorite, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick stuck to his roots in picking Navy to win on ESPN’S “College GameDay” live from Gillette. He even brought along a vintage Navy helmet to mark the occasion.
Read on to see how the day unfolded, and see the best photos from the day here.
Army-Navy Game 2023: How it happened
Dan Shaughnessy: New England hosts a classic in a throwback to purer times — 7:45 p.m.
Sign me up for Army-Navy every time. America’s Game.
Leather helmets, anyone?
This is where the college footballers still run the triple-option ground game and throw passes only under penalty of KP. This is where the student athletes are actually students, sitting in lecture halls side-by-side with classmates. This is where NCAA players are forbidden to take NIL money, and the only transfer portal is the possibility that you might be called serve if America faces a time of need.
Is it any wonder that Annapolis-raised Bill Belichick loves Army-Navy week more than he loves Lawrence Taylor?
Pageantry and pride in those who serve, and those who soon will — 7:15 p.m.
The corner tunnel inside Gillette Stadium thrummed with a steady beat of footsteps, unit after unit of Army cadets marking time until it was their turn to march on the field. Shoulder to shoulder, eight soldiers in each line, the men and women of West Point held firm in their formation, then moved in unison toward the turf. From any vantage point, an impressive and beautiful display.
This was hours before the main event was set to kick off, one of the many pre-game traditions that separates Army-Navy football from all the rest. A nod to the full tradition, pomp, and pageantry that goes along with the one true event that warrants being called “America’s Game.” Before the flyover of Navy jets and Army helicopters, before the bevy of parachute jumpers from both branches of the service, before the combined choir gathered in the end zone to sing the national anthem, there was the incredible display known as the “March On.”
Army wins Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy — 6:45 p.m.
Army is the outright winner of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, which goes to the service academy with the most head-to-head wins each season.
Army beat Air Force 23-3 early last month when Air Force was ranked No. 17 in the AP poll. Navy lost to Air Force, 17-6, on Oct. 21.
If there’s a tie — and there often can be — then the previous winner retains physical possession of the trophy.
Army ‘sings second’ — 6:40 p.m.
The losing team hears its alma mater first, as the winning team joins them and faces the losing fans. Then the losing side joins the winners and their fans for their alma mater. The phrase “sing second” has become synonymous with winning the biggest game on the calendar for both academies.
Today, we’re hearing the Navy alma mater first with a couple hundred cadets on the field. Navy midshipmen end the alma mater with a rousing “Beat Army!”
Upon the end of the Army alma mater, a cannon was fired and the crowd — which mostly remained to watch — heard a loud “Beat Navy!”
Army cadets rush the field — 6:34 p.m.
Students in their dress grays are storming out of the Gillette Stadium lower bowl to celebrate with the Army players after the win.
Navy still leads the all-time series 62-55-7, but the Black Knights have won the past two matchups.
Navy threatens to score, but Army holds strong — 6:28 p.m.
The Midshipmen drove 71 yards down the field in 1:39 but couldn’t finish it out.
They had fourth-and-2 and tried to force the ball over the goal line, but Army’s defensive line stood strong. After review of the play, the refs stuck with their original call: no good.
Navy scores first TD of the game — 6:13 p.m.
The scoring is picking up with the game almost finished.
Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai connected with senior wide receiver Jayden Umbarger for a 14-yard touchdown pass with under three minutes to play. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
It’s Army 17, Navy 9 with 2:47 to play.
A big-man touchdown for Army puts Black Knights up big — 6:06 p.m.
Army linebacker Kalib Fortner brought down Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai and forced a fumble, then scooped the ball up and ran it 44 yards into the Navy end zone for a score.
It’s 17-3 Army after the extra point with 4:49 to play in regulation. The Midshipmen are running out of time to catch up.
Navy picks up its first points — 5:41 p.m.
Midshipmen kicker Nathan Kirkwood nailed a 37-yard-field goal to put Navy on the board. It’s Army 10, Navy 3 with 12:45 to play in the fourth quarter.
End of third quarter: Army 10, Navy 0 — 5:32 p.m.
Army has outgained Navy 239 to 134, and has converted five of their 11 attempts on third down (Navy, conversely, is 1 for 6).
Sounds like a Belichick guy — 5:20 p.m.
Playing one sport while enrolled at one of the academies can be a tall order. Navy senior Xavier Arline has taken it one step further in his career at Annapolis. Arline, who started at quarterback for the Midshipmen on Saturday but was replaced by Tai Lavatai in the second quarter, will play a fourth season on the lacrosse team this spring.
“It’s taken a lot of support and guidance, and I’m very blessed to have that,” said Arline.
The coaching staffs for both the lacrosse and football teams were on board with Arline’s efforts.
“In the recruiting process, we promised him he’d get an opportunity to do both,” said Navy coach Brian Newberry. “To his credit, he handled it really well. It wasn’t like he was a guy we had to chase down when he wasn’t playing lacrosse. I think he managed it about as well as he possibly could.”
Arline’s counterpart for the Black Knights has been a dual threat in 2023. Junior Bryson Daily accounted for 13 touchdowns – six passing, and seven rushing – and entered Saturday’s game needing two more touchdown passes to move into the top 10 for Army’s single-season list. He added one more in the second quarter when he connected with Tyson Riley from three yards out. — Andrew Mahoney
Belichick on Navy football — 5:10 p.m.
Bill Belichick was the guest picker at “College GameDay” earlier on in the day, and then later joined CBS’ Jenny Dell during the game to talk about Navy.
“It’s really where I learned everything about football,” he told Dell.
Watch the full segment below:
A memorable swearing-in ceremony — 5:03 p.m.
A 97-year-old veteran who fought in Okinawa was honored on the field before a new crop of Army soldiers were sworn in in a public ceremony to large cheers.
Second half is underway — 4:53 p.m.
Army has the ball.
Key stats at the half — 4:40 p.m.
Total yards: Army 153, Navy 81
Pass yards: Army 54, Navy 0
Rushing yards: Army 99, Navy 81
Army rushers: QB Bryson Daily, 46 yards on 14 attempts; RB Kanye Ukoh, 33 yards on 5 attempts
Navy rushers: QB Tai Lavatai, 35 yards on 7 attempts; FB Alex Tecza, 24 yards on 7 attempts
Army scores as time expires — 4:30 pm.
The Black Knights widened their lead on the Midshipmen with a field goal as time expired at the end of the second quarter. It’s 10-0, Army entering halftime.
Inside the lengthy process it took for the Kraft Group to land the Army-Navy game — 4:15 p.m.
By Michael Silverman
Selling the message of bringing the game “home” to the respective schools has been the central task of the organizers, and particularly the Kraft family, since early last decade.
In a private meeting in his office with Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, Patriots owner Robert Kraft showed off mementoes from Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, Bono of U2, and the Dalai Lama.
Gladchuk recalled what Kraft said was missing: “But Chet, we’ve never hosted the Army-Navy game. We’ve got to find a way to make this happen.”
What happened was that after the Kraft Group started looking into bidding for the game in 2012, it decided that it was not ready, that it still needed to learn more about what it took to host the event. When the 2017 request for proposals went out, the Kraft Group’s bid was not accepted.
Organizers were undeterred. Here’s the full story.
Students get in the spirit — 4:05 p.m.
Making history at Gillette Stadium, plus future locations — 3:55 p.m.
This is the 124th meeting of the two teams, and it is just the third time the game has been played outside the mid-Atlantic region.
It was played in Chicago in 1926 and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in 1983.
Gillette is the first stop on a tour around the country. The other stadiums to host the game in the future are:
- 2024: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
- 2025: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
- 2026: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Army 7, Navy 0 — 3:45 p.m.
Bryson Daily connected with Tyson Riley for a four-yard touchdown pass to get the Black Knights on the board.
Army nailed the extra point to go up, 7-0. It was the first Army touchdown pass against Navy since 2015.
Watch the play here:
End of first quarter: Army 0, Navy 0 — 3:40 p.m.
It’s just about exactly as we expected. Only five passes have been attempted between the two teams. Army leads the possession battle, 10:45 to 4:15.
The history of Army-Navy — 3:25 p.m.
The US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy first met on the gridiron in 1890, when Benjamin Harrison was president and Civil War veterans were creeping into their early 50s. It was three years before Navy Midshipman Joseph Mason Reeves — later a four-star admiral — wore what is widely regarded as the first football helmet, against Army in 1893.
There were several interruptions to the rivalry between 1893 and 1930. World War I nixed the 1917 and 1918 games. The teams didn’t play in 1909 when Army canceled the remainder of its season after a player died in a game against Harvard.
Perhaps most notably — and maybe apocryphally, as sources vary — no games were played from 1894 through 1898 after an Army brigadier general and a Navy rear admiral supposedly got into an argument so heated they nearly dueled.
Army-Navy has managed to go off without a hitch every year since 1930, including throughout World War II. As the military academies were often national powers, particularly in the mid 1900s, games often had implications at the very top of college football. Army won four straight from 1944-47, entering the first three of those games as the No. 1 team in the country, going undefeated and claiming all three national titles.
Their dominance faded, as did Army’s ownership of the matchup through its first 60 editions or so. Things were fairly even for several decades until 2002, when the Midshipmen rattled off 14 consecutive wins — by far the longest streak in the matchup’s history — before the Cadets won five of the last seven. Navy leads the all-time series 62-54-7. — Amin Touri
And we’re underway — 3:12 p.m.
The announced attendance: 65,878.
About the CBS broadcast: Jenny Dell returns home — 3:05 p.m.
As the sideline reporter the past two seasons for CBS’s lauded Southeastern Conference college football broadcasts, Jenny Dell is used to having work trips on the weekends through the fall and winter.
This weekend, she gets something a little different. A college football game of a different kind of magnitude, and a work trip that doubles as a homecoming.
Dell, best known around here for her two years (2012-14) as NESN’s Red Sox reporter, will be on the sidelines Saturday for CBS’s broadcast of the Army-Navy game from Gillette Stadium. She will work with play-by-play voice Brad Nessler and analyst Gary Danielson, her colleagues on the network’s SEC broadcasts, which to their chagrin are moving to ESPN next season.
“Being in New England, it’s special to me in multiple ways,’’ she said. “I’m just honored to be on the field for this one. It’s going to be an incredible weekend.”
Parachuters take the field — 2:55 p.m.
This is a scene unlike any other in college football.
The Leap Frogs — the US Navy’s parachute team — and a crew of parachuting Army cadets made an exhilarating entrance to Gillette Stadium from the air.
Better yet: Nearly every parachuter landed almost at the 50-yard-line. That’s some good aim.
What to know about the game — 2:30 p.m.
While Navy leads the series, 62-54-7, the momentum has shifted, with Army winning five of the last seven following Navy’s stretch of 14 wins in a row from 2002-15. Head coach Jeff Monken is 5-4 against Navy, including last year’s 20-17 win in double overtime.
He will have a new counterpart across the field Saturday. After Navy went 11-23 from 2020-22, the program fired Ken Niumatalolo, who had served as head coach for 15 seasons. Athletic director Chet Gladchuk didn’t look far for a replacement, choosing to promote defensive coordinator Brian Newberry.
It did not appear likely the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy — awarded annually to the winner of the triangular rivalry between the three service academies in FBS — would be on the line this weekend after Navy lost to defending champion Air Force, 17-6, on Oct. 21. The Black Knights were drubbed by LSU, 62-0, that same day, then lost the following week at home to UMass to fall to 2-6.
But Army won its next three, beginning with a 23-3 upset at Air Force on Nov. 4 to hand the 17th-ranked Falcons their first loss. Another win Saturday would give Army (5-6) its first outright Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2020. A win by Navy (5-6) would put all three at 1-1, with the trophy sticking with the Falcons.
Newberry hopes the Midshipmen can correct their mistakes from the loss to Air Force. Read more here.
About the special uniforms — 2:15 p.m.
Through collaboration with Nike, Army will honor the 3rd Infantry Division that fought during the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The 3rd Infantry Division’s success hinged upon its ability to seize and maintain the initiative against a determined adversary in harsh and unforgiving terrain,” Army Athletics said in a statement. “The Dogface Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division accomplished this feat through the clear application of the U.S. Army’s characteristics of the offensive: surprise, concentration, audacity, and tempo.
The Navy uniforms were designed to honor the U.S. Submarine Force, nicknamed the “Silent Service,” and are colored Eclipse Navy, which is Under Armour’s darkest shade of navy blue.
The font of the uniforms is intended to represent classification numbers on a submarine hull, and the numbers are stacked vertically on the pants to appear like depth numbers on a ship. The jersey’s sleeve patch is a combination of the Navy anchor logo and the Submarine Warfare insignia, which involves dolphins surrounding a submarine.
Behind the scenes at ‘College GameDay’ — 2:00 p.m.
Bill Belichick came prepared on Saturday.
Around 11:30 a.m., he arrived on set at GameDay. With the smell of barbecue in the air, he made his way up to the platform located in front of Gillette Stadium and went straight to greet longtime GameDay personality Lee Corso.
Corso, who briefly coached defensive backs at Navy, rarely picks against the Midshipmen. He was sporting his traditional gray Navy robe and when Belichick took the stage, before the cameras turned on, he and Corso embraced and had a private conversation.
With a slew of signs waving in the background — “IN BILL WE TRUST” and “ZAPPE > BRADY” among them — the show went live, and all attention was on Corso and Belichick.
Photos: The March On — 1:30 p.m.
The March On is one of the many traditions at Army-Navy.
Why is Gillette hosting Army-Navy? — 1:15 p.m.
The rivalry is almost never played on campus at West Point or Annapolis. Save for a handful of occasions, Army-Navy has been held at a neutral site since 1899, most often in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has hosted the game on 90 of its 123 occasions: first at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field, then at the since-demolished John F. Kennedy Stadium from 1936-79, and most recently at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles) since 2003.
Philadelphia and New York are the two major cities between the academies, with New York City and the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., combining to host the game 16 times. It has moved mostly around the mid-Atlantic, only twice leaving the region: The teams squared off in Chicago in 1926 as part of the rededication of Municipal Grant Stadium as Soldier Field, and there was one trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in 1983.
Saturday marks the third time the rivalry has truly hit the road. West Point and the Naval Academy announced a “five-year cycle” in 2022, starting with Foxborough in 2023 and bouncing around the usual mid-Atlantic cities — Washington, Baltimore, East Rutherford, and Philadelphia — after that.
“Our destinations over the next five years provide the Academies with an opportunity to share the economic impact, history, and tradition of Army-Navy with a number of communities in diverse geographic areas,” Gladchuk said in a statement.
The game coincides with historical milestones. The 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party is a week after the game, and 2023 marks the 225th anniversary of the first voyage of the USS Constitution, perhaps the Navy’s most famous warship, which is permanently docked in Boston Harbor. — Amin Touri
Marching into Gillette Stadium — 1:00 p.m.
More than 2,500 midshipmen filed in in their dress whites and black coats before orderly exiting the field, followed by another 2,500 cadets in their dress grays.
Bill Belichick’s pick is in — 12:30 p.m.
“College GameDay” guest picker Bill Belichick took a page out of host Lee Corso’s book to make his pick for the winner of Army-Navy.
The Patriots coach produced a gold football helmet from under the desk and put it on as he selected Navy, which is an unsurprising choice for Belichick. The 24-year head coach grew up in Annapolis, Md., where the Naval Academy is located. He was four years old when his father, Steve, started as a scout for Navy’s football team, and the elder Belichick spent 33 years on Navy’s staff.
Live from “College GameDay” with Robert Kraft — 11:30 a.m.
It’s a beautiful day at Gillette Stadium with the sun shining and a light breeze. That’s certainly one of the reasons turnout is so great on the set of ESPN’s “College GameDay.”
Desmond Howard said this was the fifth most expensive ticket at Gillette Stadium. He asked Patriots team owner Robert Kraft about the fanfare during Kraft’s appearance on the show.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kraft said. “People are doing something in a way that’s unique. The gravitas of this game is something that maybe, when you get to the Super Bowl and win, is like that.
“I’m not sure we appreciate and support our armed forces the way we should,” Kraft said. “We live our lives the way we do because of these people.”
Patriot Games: See how Army cadets and Navy midshipmen competed in and around Boston — 11:15 a.m.
Army cadets and Navy midshipmen kicked off the weekend Friday with the Patriot Games, a series of physical and mental contests between teams from the two service academies that took place at both Minute Man National Park in Concord and Boston Common.
A parade to Faneuil Hall followed the Boston Common events; competition continued there throughout Friday afternoon.
Photos: Looking back at decades of history in the Army-Navy game — 11:00 a.m.
Traditionally contested in Philadelphia, the Army-Navy game dates back to 1890. Navy leads the all-time series, 62–54–7, and had 14 consecutive wins from 2002 to 2015. Army took last year’s contest, 20-17, in double overtime.
These photos show just a sampling of the vast history between the two teams, ranging from 1930, a 6-0 win for Army, all the way to 2001, a 26-17 Army victory that featured rousing scenes of post-Sept. 11 patriotism.
Why 194 Naval Academy midshipmen ran a game ball from Annapolis, Md., to Gillette Stadium — 10:45 a.m.
Andrew Bacilek agreed to the challenge before he knew just how difficult it would be.
When he was a Naval Academy junior, Bacilek was named the executive officer of the 13th Company’s 2022 ball run, an annual event when Navy undergraduates run a game ball from the Naval Academy to the site of the Army-Navy football game. His position meant that he was in line to be the commander the following year and would be responsible for planning and coordinating the 2023 ball run.
Little did he know that the 2023 Army-Navy game would be played at Gillette Stadium, and Bacilek would have to figure out how nearly 200 members of his company would run 458 miles from Annapolis, Md., to Foxborough — the longest ball run in history.
“They said the game’s going to be in Foxborough, and I was like, ‘It can’t be that much different. It can’t be that bad,’” Bacilek said. “Man, was I wrong.”
The logistics, which Bacilek has been planning since January, are dizzying. Bacilek, 21, and his team of seven other midshipmen coordinated with state and local law enforcement agencies across seven states, set up four overnight shelter locations in community centers and fire stations, mapped out the nearly 500-mile route, and divided a team of 194 current and former members of the 13th Company into relay-style teams that would run segments of 8-12 miles over four days.
Tickets costing more than Taylor Swift? Inside the big demand and years of planning to bring Army-Navy to Gillette. — 10:30 a.m.
Traveling together and safely spaced, a highway convoy of 95 buses carrying thousands of cadets and midshipmen to Gillette Stadium for Saturday’s Army-Navy game would stretch for more than 5 miles.
A list of logistics, ceremonial trappings, and legwork that went into bringing the two-day annual extravaganza to New England for the first time is almost as long.
And that’s only partly why “a lot of people will tell you that this Army-Navy game is like hosting a Super Bowl, it’s at that magnitude, certainly, at the college level,” said Phil Buttafuoco, executive director of special events for the Kraft Group.
An estimated 50,000-plus attendees headed for the sold-out, 65,878-capacity stadium in Foxborough are coming from out of state, with tickets purchased from all 50 states and a few other countries.
“Ticket demand for this game is greater than any AFC Championship game, greater than Taylor Swift, greater than anybody else we’ve ever seen,” said Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group.
College football is always changing. Why does the Army-Navy game endure? — 10:15 a.m.
The teams no longer play for the national championship or are ranked among the top 10. Only four times in the last six decades have both rivals entered the game with winning records, and this season neither does.
And yet when Army’s and Navy’s football squads meet for the 124th time Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, the country still will take notice.
America’s Game, as its participants bill it, has been broadcast nationwide since 1930 and televised since 1945. Tickets have been sold out for months, as they customarily are.
“I don’t think there’s a better rivalry in sports,” said Army coach Jeff Monken. “Every competitor on the field and every one of their classmates sitting in the stands have made a pledge to serve our country. They’re willing to pay the ultimate price for everybody that watches the game. It’s a pretty incredible commitment.”
What goes in to producing ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’? — 10:00 a.m.
The last seven of Matt Garrett’s 19 years at ESPN have been spent as the coordinating producer of some of the network’s most prominent programming, including “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “Monday Night Countdown,” the Masters, and the PGA Championship.
Those gigs gave him a sturdy foundation of knowledge to bring to a role new to him this year — coordinating producer of “College GameDay,” which save for perhaps TNT’s “Inside the NBA” is the most celebrated studio program in sports television.
Yet because of “GameDay’s” distinctive characteristic — the cast and crew hit the road each week to broadcast from a different venue, with this Saturday’s show originating at Gillette Stadium in advance of the 124th Army-Navy game — it’s not something Garrett could have fully been prepared for.