EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Record-breaking quarterback Chris McCoy and his fellow seniors produced the perfect ending to their Naval Academy football careers at Giants Stadium yesterday by overwhelming Army, 39-7, before a sellout crowd of 77,716.It ended five years of bitter frustration for the Midshipmen, who had lost the previous five games by a total of 10 points.
Those memorable battles had been decided by shanked field-goal tries, dropped passes in the end zone and questionable coaching decisions. But this time McCoy and an aroused Navy defense that limited Army to 87 total yards allowed no margin for error.
McCoy showed why he had been a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. He capped his big afternoon with an 11-yard fourth-quarter scoring pass to senior wide receiver LeBron Butts.
The academy record book underwent another assault by the unassuming Georgia native, who will be appearing in the national Blue-Gray Game on Christmas Day. McCoy finished with the most points in a Navy career (268) and set a record for total offense in a season (2,573 yards).
And his 3,401 yards rushing in a career placed him second behind Air Force's Dee Dowis on the NCAA's all-time list for quarterbacks.
McCoy's two previous appearances against Army were major disappointments. In 1995, with Navy leading 13-7 in the fourth quarter, McCoy had a chance to put the game away on fourth down from the Army 1. But his pass fell short of a diving Cory Schemm in the end zone.
Last December, McCoy saw a 21-3 halftime lead slip away and was replaced by senior Ben Fay in the closing minutes. That is what made this one so special.
"You can't describe the feeling," he said. "One day, we're going to look back on this and realize we were part of something special. In my mind, this is the most competitive game in college football."
But this was hardly a one-man offensive show. Senior fullback Tim Cannada also enjoyed a memorable final game, ripping through the heart of the Cadets' defense for a career-high 133 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
All told, Navy rushed for 380 yards and controlled the clock for more than 42 minutes.
It was easy to forget that Army actually led 7-0 after only 41 seconds of the game. On the first play from scrimmage, senior fullback Joe Hewitt burst up the middle for 36 yards to the Navy 38. Junior quarterback Johnny Goff followed his example with a 38-yard touchdown sprint and suddenly the Cadets (4-7) looked like anything but 12 1/2 -point underdogs.
But that lightning drive only served as a wake-up call for the Navy defense that came into the game ranked ninth in the nation.
Said senior linebacker Travis Cooley: "We've got 10 seniors on defense who have been playing together since prep school. It's not like we were going to freak out. We knew we had more than 59 minutes."
Weatherbie, who had lost his previous two Army games by a combined three points, saw no signs of panic on the sidelines.
"After Goff scored, everyone kind of looked at one another and said 'How did that happen?' And then they said, 'We better get down to business.' "
Indeed. The remainder of the game, the Army offense was held to 13 yards with Goff mostly running in reverse under a fierce rush led by Cooley and tackles David Viger and Jason Snyder.
"We got lucky on our first drive," said Goff, making his first start against Navy. "After that, Navy's defense kept us from running inside. Then we tried to bounce outside and run the corners where we had success all season. But their linebackers did an excellent job shutting off the perimeter."
The Mids, who finished the season with four straight lopsided victories but minus a bowl bid, wasted little time changing the momentum.