But a solid first half, both offensively and defensively, was ruined by a 43-yard bootleg run by Roper that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Chad Davis that cut the lead to 17-7 with 5:20 left in the half.

In the third quarter Van Matre threw a strike to Tom Pritchard for a 27-yard touchdown and Navy led, 24-7. But instead of putting the Cadets away, Ingraham and Van Matre lost fumbles on Navy's next two possessions. One play after Van Matre's fumble, Roper again faked out the Navy defense and scored on a 22-yard bootleg run that narrowed Army's deficit to 24-14.

"They got two touchdowns on what I call risky plays," Chaump said of the bootleg runs. "They were out of character for a wishbone team."


Get the Baltimore Football app for iPhone and Android

Army's next touchdown was completely out of character, a 68-yard pass from Roper to Gaylord Greene in the fourth quarter that -- with the two-point conversion after a fake point-after attempt -- pulled the Cadets within 24-22 with 7:23 left. The Cadets entered the game ranked ranked third from the bottom in passing among all Division I teams and hadn't had a touchdown pass of over 47 yards all season.

"In the third quarter, the coaches said we we were going to start throwing the ball more," Roper said. "I was a little worried because we were going against the wind. But I knew that we had to keep nipping at them and we would eventually get a big play."

That big-play touchdown pass, and two-point conversion, put the Cadets into a position to win the game with a field goal. From there, Malcom took over.

"Their kicking game certainly paid off," said Chaump, who had an empty, dazed look on his face as he crossed the field after the game. "On the field goal we made an effort to block and we were pretty close. That man's a pretty good kicker."

And Malcom's a big hero for the Cadets at West Point, as well as a heartbreaker for the Midshipmen in Annapolis. Afterward, the Navy players stood around looking as if they needed to be awakened from a nightmare.

"It's difficult. We moved the ball; we stopped them on defense," said Chatlos, who had seven tackles. "We stopped them all game with what they're used to doing the most. This was frustrating."

And it ended Navy's worst back-to-back seasons since 1947 and 1948, when the Midshipmen finished 1-7-1 and 0-8-1. In its last game of the season, Navy went before a national television audience and put up its highest point total of the season (Navy's previous high was during the 27-22 loss at Rice).

But on the strength of Malcom's 49-yard field goal with 12 seconds left, it proved all for naught.

"For a fan looking at the game, it was exciting -- it was back and forth, which an Army-Navy game is always like," Chaump said. "But it's tough to lose a game like that. It hurts worse than anything."