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A game to remember: Army-Navy matchup at Gillette Stadium

Coach Willie Maye
A game to remember: Army-Navy matchup at Gillette Stadium

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It’s an amazing December in New England.

Though a storm roared into the region this week, the temperatures have been mostly mild.

And something else special happened this month — the Army-Navy football teams squared off at Gillette Stadium.

The Dec. 10 game did not disappoint.

The Army held its ground on a goal-line stand in the final seconds to send Navy mascot Bill the Goat home disappointed, the Associated Press reported.

As the AP reported, Army linebacker Kalib Fortner scored on a fourth-quarter strip sack and then helped stuff quarterback Tai Lavatai inches from the end zone with three seconds left to lead the Black Knights to a 17-11 victory over Navy and win the 124th meeting of the nation’s oldest service academies.

“Why’s it always got to be like that?” said Army coach Jeff Monken, according to the AP. “It is. It’s always like that. We had a 14-point lead, and with one second to go they’re standing there knocking on the door with a chance to tie the game. Unreal.”

Navy coach Brian Newberry said the match was more than just a game.

“It’s about celebrating some of the finest young men in the country on the field, and then celebrating and recognizing all those that have dedicated their life to service, that have served and are serving your country,” he said to the AP. “Shining a light on them, celebrating them and showing gratitude for their sacrifice and their commitment. That’s what it’s all about.”

The game injected some needed excitement to Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, who have been stumbling all season.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the six-time Super Bowl-champion Patriots, seemed excited that the Army-Navy game was in Foxborough. Belichick grew up in Annapolis while his father spent 34 years as a Navy assistant coach.

A lot of locals and national people felt Boston deserved this honor, even if the game is national.

Abel Young — a retired colonel who served in the Army for 27 years and who played football at West Point from 1992-1996  — called the contest “America’s Game.” He said the Army is “America’s team.”

Sean Cocrane, from Boston, thought this game could be held anywhere in the United States because they’re all playing for a great cause and it is highly competitive.

Cheryl Radachowsky of Danbury, Connecticut, attended Boston College from 1983-87. She and her family have been coming to America’s game for over three decades. Radachowsky remembers when her mother rented three Greyhound buses to attend the game. Her fondest memory was last year in Philadelphia, when Army beat Navy, 20-17, in overtime.

Radachowsky said she hopes the Army-Navy rivalry is back in Foxborough in two years, because her son, who is injured, plays for Army. She says Gillette is a great venue.

Next year, the Army and Navy will clash in Washington, D.C.

Army-Navy football, Gillette Stadium, Sports