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In a boneyard for favorites
John Underwood
December 11, 1967
Underdog Navy surprised Army with an outdated I offense and an I-got-you defense to win one it had been waiting 364 days to play
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December 11, 1967

In A Boneyard For Favorites

Underdog Navy surprised Army with an outdated I offense and an I-got-you defense to win one it had been waiting 364 days to play

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The I gave Navy an extra blocker in the backfield—which meant more power to attack Army's tackles and to kick out on Army's ends. Halfbacks Jeri Balsly and Terry Murray could have walked through some of the holes that resulted. But it was Cartwright's passing and, as important, his selection of passes that made the difference as Navy built up a 19-0 lead before Army finally shook itself of a bad case of the fiats and started moving. This year Navy's former 35-pound one-year-old had been reconstituted from a straight drop-back passer to an expert on play-action and roll-out passes, and when he set up deep it was always at an angle. Aggressive teams like Army were not able to rush him as well as in the past, and this proved critical, for Army had planned to show Cartwright some muscle in this game. In addition, to help Cartwright's confidence, he had been told to "play it loose," to throw whenever he wanted to.

The second time Navy got the ball last Saturday, Cartwright gave a broad hint of what was to follow. Faced with a third down and less than a yard at the Army 49, he brought Navy out in a tight I, no flankers, no splits. Army bunched in to stop the expected ground thrust, and everybody but the mayor of Philadelphia headed for the hole at right tackle. But Cartwright dropped back and floated a little teaser down the middle to End Rob Taylor. Army did not recover until Taylor was on the 13.

Navy only managed a field goal out of that one, but it scored on a 45-yard drive after a pass interception moments later. Then in the second quarter Cartwright took the Middies 93 yards for what proved to be the winning touchdown. Calling the plays himself, he was Solomon in shoulder pads. He never made an unwise move, nor was there ever a loss. He completed four passes out of four, two to Tight End Mike Clark, who was so open he looked like he had popped out of the ground. At the Army 13, Cartwright reverted to Balsly and Balsly ran it in.

If there is one thing you can be sure of since calm-and-collected Cahill came to be West Point's coach, it is that at moments like this—behind 19-0 after a safety and people tumbling for the exits to beat the awful traffic—Army will not fold its tent. Seven times this season Army had come from behind to win. This was almost No. 8. With only 13 minutes left to play and Lindell's ineffectiveness unimpaired, Cahill called on a second-stringer, Jimmy O'Toole, who is a better passer but does not happen to be a better quarterback. Enthusiastic for the first time all day, Army drove 51 yards for a touchdown. Now the Cadet defense got interested. Army put Cartwright on his back and another punt was forced. With a little more than seven minutes to go, Army was again near midfield. On the first play O'Toole reared back and passed long downfield to End Gary Steele, who had been dropping passes all day. Steele, half a step in the clear, dropped this one, too. But O'Toole called the same play to the same steel-handed but winged-footed Steele. Connection. Fifty yards and a touchdown. Crazy. See, everything gets all turned around. Now Navy led only 19-14 with 7:05 to play. Moments later a short, hurried Navy punt gave Army the ball only 26 yards from the Navy goal. The madhouse was a madhouse.

But O'Toole no sooner had Army driving than Jarvis fumbled at the 20, and the game belonged to Navy.

Navy finished the year with a 5-4-1 record, its first winning season in three under Elias, who can say truthfully as they said all week in Annapolis, "Winning is good for the soul." He can also say it is good for the future, because his job was in doubt had Navy lost. Army finished 8-2 for the second straight year under its remarkable coach. Whether Tom Cahill would trade records with Bill Elias for a victory over Navy only he can say. Perhaps there is a Days-to-Navy calendar hanging in his office right now. Crazy.

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