By all logical standards the game shouldn't have drawn more than 146 people, which would be the combined traveling squads of Army and Navy, the coaching staffs, the six guys with the whistles and handkerchiefs and a spare guy to chase stray dogs. Anybody else shows up at last Saturday's Great Service Rivalry in Philadelphia, it's got to be by accident. Look at Navy. It has been sunk so many times this season even the goat is waterlogged. Instead of varsity letters the players should get Navy Crosses. Nine games, eight sinkings. They did manage to beat Virginia, but nobody will say if that was the girl or the school. "We couldn't make a first down running against a strong wind," said Coach Rick Forzano. In the nine games Navy ran up 98 points while holding its opponents to 280. "When Notre Dame put the women and children in there against us in the fourth quarter," said Forzano, "it was pretty embarrassing."
And then look at Army, a winner of only three of nine, and you have to go back to 1951 before finding the same two teams coming into their annual classic with records as ghastly. And then there's the football stadium, shipped in from ancient Rome and donated to the city by William Penn. It's the only public arena in the world with hot and cold running air coming out of the taps in the rest rooms. But, of course, they only open the old dump a couple of times a year and then only to give the cops a few laughs watching traffic jams. The rest of the year the historical society takes over, showing tourists where Thomas Jefferson sat on the 50-yard line to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Well, so much for logical standards. The fans poured in last Saturday, snarling the highways for miles in every direction, and they were poured off the Scotch Special, which the Penn-Central runs every year out of New York. If you've ever ridden that railroad, you know why the fans drink. By the kick-off there were 102,000 of them jammed inside that old pile of cold stones. And suddenly came the beautiful thought that there wasn't a pro scout among them, that the young kids out there on the field weren't going on to the Bears or the Packers or the Jets next year, but to Vietnam, and instead of a bonus there'd be combat pay, and maybe that halfback can't run the 100 in 10 seconds—but he just might be the next guy to win a Congressional Medal of Honor. And, like that, snap! It no longer mattered what happened all the previous Saturdays, because this was something very special.
Because of Lynn Moore, a 205-pounder who runs like he should be playing for Texas or Southern Cal or Ohio State, Army was favored by 10 points. The spread would have been higher, but it wasn't until halftime that the rumor got around that Tom Cahill, the Army coach, had threatened to leave his troops in Philly for a week if they lost. And by that time Army was leading by six points, and Navy was, well—nobody ever said you had to be a great football player to command a flagship.
December 8, 1969
The game opened with Army Quarterback Bernie Wall running a fake, and then the Cadets got serious. They drove to the Navy 25, missed a field goal, and if they didn't score they surely gave promise of what was to come. On the drive Moore carried twice for 24 yards, and the Middie defense dug in for a long, hard afternoon.
Army muscled Navy around for most of the first quarter, but it wasn't until the final minutes of the period that it really got cranked up. And then it drove 75 yards, mostly on the running of Moore, who scored on a three-yard run just after they turned into the second quarter. The kick made it 7-0—for a few seconds, until an official announced that Navy had been offside and Army decided to go for two points, and missed. That made it 6-0, which is about the way this series has gone since the teams started playing each other in 1890. With five seconds left in the half and with the ball on the Navy 24, Army had a chance to pick up three more points with a field goal, but didn't when time ran out with the center still bent over the ball. This time, though, they got to keep all their points.
The second half was more of the same, only a lot more. Army scored the first two times it got the ball, on a six-yard pass from Wall to Tight End Mike Masciello and then on a one-yard dive by Moore. It scored again in the fourth quarter, with Hank Andrzejczak running five yards for that one, and Army won 27-0 and got to leave Philadelphia right after the game. Moore carried 40 times for 206 yards and finished the season just 17 yards shy of 1,000. "Darn," said Cahill later, "I wish I had known he was that close." Except for one play Moore didn't carry the last two times Army had the ball. "Sure, I knew I was close, and I would have loved to have had it," Moore said. "But it's up to the coach to play me or not to play me, and that's the way it should be."
And so Moore was on the sidelines when, with 38 seconds to play, Army was just trying to run out the clock. And the fans came pouring out onto the field to tear down both goalposts.
"What do we do now?" said an Army player.
"Just finish the game," said an official. "Just don't try any field goals."
And then, with five seconds to play, a fan came dashing out, scooped up the game ball and went racing off. Army's Don DeCort, a 6'2", 210-pound tackle, chased the fan into the crowd, recovered the ball and tossed it out onto the field. Army and Navy. Beautiful!