It’s been more than 130 years since Army and Navy first battled on the gridiron. Their game on Saturday, Dec. 12 was the 121st all-time meeting and the first contest played at a home stadium since 1943. The Midshipmen hold a 61-53-7 head-to-head edge after Army won the 2020 meeting 15-0.
But like the nature of this rivalry, numbers alone don’t fully encompass the history of the series. These are just a few notable happenings from the 1890s for perspective:
• Benjamin Harrison was in his second year of his term as the 23rd president
• Early in the year, Wyoming and Idaho were admitted as the 43rd and 44th states.
• Ellis Island wouldn’t open for more than another year (Jan. 1, 1892).
Here are nine influential moments chronicling Army and Navy’s decorated pasts.
1890 — The first game
Navy had competed as a football team since 1879 when it challenged Army to what would become the first game in an ongoing series. Except that Army side had never before played an organized game. Still, the Black Knights accepted. Despite home-field advantage in West Point, the Midshipmen’s experience propelled them to a 24-0 win.
1893 — Use your head
You might be wondering why a game that ended 6-4 made this list. After all, it looks more like a baseball score. But 18 years after the first confirmed use of a glove on the diamond, Navy’s Joseph Mason Reeves flashed the leather on the gridiron. Injuries prompted the Admiral to enlist the help of an Annapolis shoemaker for his football career to continue. In doing so, he becomes the first player to use a football helmet.
1944-45 — On top of the world
Army and Navy have met as the No.1 and No. 2 teams twice in 121 years. It just so happened to be in back-to-back years. Both times, it was the Black Knights who gained the upper hand, winning 23-7 in 1944 and 32-13 the following year.
Led by eventual Heisman Memorial Trophy winners Felix "Doc" Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis (1946), Army finished both seasons a perfect 9-0 as national champions.
1952 — The “M*A*S*H" game
The classic TV show M*A*S*H featured the Army/Navy game in an episode from its debut season first aired in 1973. The show’s writers scripted the 53rd meeting between the academies with the Midshipmen winning 42-36.
In reality, the ‘Mids did win the 53rd game. It took place 21 years earlier and ended 7-0, the final victory of a Navy three-game win streak. Coincidentally, the score depicted on M*A*S*H has never been the outcome in any of the first 121 games.
1963 — Victory in mourning
One of the most historic games in the series is also known for almost not happening. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22. His untimely death meant the game fell within the military's 30-day national period of mourning, nearly cancelling the contest before the Kennedy family urged for the game to be played.
A decision to postpone to the following week was made right around the announcement that Navy quarterback Roger Staubach would be the recipient of the Heisman Trophy. He remains the program's second winner through 2020. On Dec. 7 — the 22-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor — Staubach and the Midshipmen defeated Army 21-15.
Trailing late, the Black Knights drove down to Navy's 2-yard line with a chance to tie the game. However, time expired before a they could run another play. This game will also be remembered for the debut of instant replay.
1964 — Breaking barriers
Army snapped a five-game skid against Navy the following year with an 11-8 win. But it was the Midshipmen who took down a more significant obstacle. Sophomore wingback Calvin Huey became the first African-American to take the field for either side in the series, catching four passes for Navy.
The following season, he’d accomplish the feat at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. In Roger Staubach’s 1974 autobiography, “First Down, Lifetime to Go” he said, “Calvin Huey was just the kind of guy you liked. He had a great personality, worked hard in football and was an intelligent guy."
1983 — Go West, military man
A trip to Pasadena marks the sole installment of the rivalry played west of the Mississippi River. The Rose Bowl hosted in 1983 after the Army-Navy '83 Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was created to attract donations to cover the cost of the game. According to The Washington Post, that number was estimated to be around $6 million.
Despite the 2,500-plus miles separating both schools from southern California, more than 9,000 mids and cadets were reported to be in attendance as Navy won 42-13. The game returned to Philadelphia the following year and has not been further west than Landover, Maryland, since.
2015 — One of a kind
Staubach remains the lone Heisman quarterback to come from Navy. However, Keenan Reynolds is part of elite company too as the only Midshipmen signal caller to beat Army four times.
As a senior, he ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns while adding 113 yards and another score through the air in a 21-17 win over Army. Reynolds finished fifth in Heisman voting, guiding Navy (11-2) to its best record in program history and is the fourth ‘Mid to have his number retired.
2016 — Changing of the guard
The turn of the century came with an extended period of dominance for Navy. The two sides exchanged wins in 2000 and 2001 before the ‘Mids ripped off 14 consecutive wins, cruising by a 25.7 point average margin of victory over the first nine games.
Four of the final five wins were decided by one possession before Army broke through in Baltimore, the same city where the Black Knights once stood alone at the pinnacle of college football over 70 years prior.
Army owned the trenches, rushing for 316 total yards and three touchdowns in a 21-17 win. That victory was the start of a three-game winning streak for the Black Knights.
Army vs. Navy: Scores, all-time series
|1890||West Point, N.Y.||Navy, 24-0||Navy 1-0|
|1891||Annapolis, Md.||Army, 32-16||Tied, 1-1|
|1892||West Point, N.Y.||Navy, 12-4||Navy, 2-1|
|1893||Annapolis, Md.||Navy, 6-4||Navy, 3-1|
|1899||Philadelphia||Army, 17-5||Navy, 3-2|
|1900||Philadelphia||Navy, 11-7||Navy, 4-2|
|1902||Philadelphia||Army, 22-8||Tied, 4-4|
|1903||Philadelphia||Army, 40-5||Army, 5-4|
|1904||Philadelphia||Army, 11-0||Army, 6-4|
|1905||Princeton, N.J.||Tie, 6-6||Army, 6-4-1|
|1906||Philadelphia||Navy, 10-0||Army, 6-5-1|
|1907||Philadelphia||Navy, 6-0||Tied, 6-6-1|
|1908||Philadelphia||Army, 6-4||Army, 7-6-1|
|1910||Philadelphia||Navy, 3-0||Tied, 7-7-1|
|1911||Philadelphia||Navy, 3-0||Navy, 8-7-1|
|1912||Philadelphia||Navy, 6-0||Navy, 9-7-1|
|1913||New York||Army, 22-9||Navy, 9-8-1|
|1914||Philadelphia||Army, 20-0||Tied, 9-9-1|
|1915||New York||Army, 14-0||Army, 10-9-1|
|1916||New York||Army, 15-7||Army, 11-9-1|
|1919||New York||Navy, 6-0||Army, 11-10-1|
|1920||New York||Navy, 7-0||Tied, 11-11-1|
|1921||New York||Navy, 7-0||Navy, 12-11-1|
|1922||Philadelphia||Army, 17-14||Tied, 12-12-1|
|1923||New York||Tie, 0-0||Tied, 12-12-2|
|1924||Baltimore, Md.||Army, 12-0||Army, 13-12-2|
|1925||New York||Army, 10-3||Army, 14-12-2|
|1926||Chicago||Tie, 21-21||Army, 14-12-3|
|1927||New York||Army, 14-9||Army, 15-12-3|
|1930||New York||Army, 6-0||Army, 16-12-3|
|1931||New York||Army, 17-7||Army, 17-12-3|
|1932||Philadelphia||Army, 20-0||Army, 18-12-3|
|1933||Philadelphia||Army, 12-7||Army, 19-12-3|
|1934||Philadelphia||Navy, 3-0||Army, 19-13-3|
|1935||Philadelphia||Army, 28-6||Army, 20-13-3|
|1936||Philadelphia||Navy, 7-0||Army, 20-14-3|
|1937||Philadelphia||Army, 6-0||Army, 21-14-3|
|1938||Philadelphia||Army, 14-7||Army, 22-14-3|
|1939||Philadelphia||Navy, 10-0||Army, 22-15-3|
|1940||Philadelphia||Navy, 14-0||Army, 22-16-3|
|1941||Philadelphia||Navy, 14-6||Army, 22-17-3|
|1942||Annapolis, Md.||Navy, 14-0||Army, 22-18-3|
|1943||West Point, N.Y.||Navy, 13-0||Army, 22-19-3|
|1944||Baltimore, Md.||Army 23-7||Army, 23-19-3|
|1945||Philadelphia||Army, 32-13||Army, 24-19-3|
|1946||Philadelphia||Army, 21-18||Army, 25-19-3|
|1947||Philadelphia||Army, 21-0||Army, 26-19-3|
|1948||Philadelphia||Tie, 21-21||Army, 26-19-4|
|1949||Philadelphia||Army, 38-0||Army, 27-19-4|
|1950||Philadelphia||Navy, 14-2||Army, 27-20-4|
|1951||Philadelphia||Navy, 42-7||Army, 27-21-4|
|1952||Philadelphia||Navy, 7-0||Army, 27-22-4|
|1953||Philadelphia||Army, 20-7||Army, 28-22-4|
|1954||Philadelphia||Navy, 27-20||Army, 28-23-4|
|1955||Philadelphia||Army, 14-6||Army, 29-23-4|
|1956||Philadelphia||Tie, 7-7||Army, 29-23-5|
|1957||Philadelphia||Navy, 14-0||Army, 29-24-5|
|1958||Philadelphia||Army, 22-6||Army, 30-24-5|
|1959||Philadelphia||Navy, 43-12||Army, 30-25-5|
|1960||Philadelphia||Navy, 17-12||Army, 30-26-5|
|1961||Philadelphia||Navy, 13-7||Army, 30-27-5|
|1962||Philadelphia||Navy, 34-14||Army, 30-28-5|
|1963||Philadelphia||Navy, 21-15||Army, 30-29-5|
|1964||Philadelphia||Army, 11-8||Army, 31-29-5|
|1965||Philadelphia||Tie, 7-7||Army, 31-29-6|
|1966||Philadelphia||Army, 20-7||Army, 32-29-6|
|1967||Philadelphia||Navy, 19-14||Army, 32-30-6|
|1968||Philadelphia||Army, 21-14||Army, 33-30-6|
|1969||Philadelphia||Army, 27-0||Army, 34-30-6|
|1970||Philadelphia||Navy, 11-7||Army, 34-31-6|
|1971||Philadelphia||Army, 24-23||Army, 35-31-6|
|1972||Philadelphia||Army, 23-15||Army, 36-31-6|
|1973||Philadelphia||Navy, 51-0||Army, 36-32-6|
|1974||Philadelphia||Navy, 19-0||Army, 36-33-6|
|1975||Philadelphia||Navy, 30-6||Army, 36-34-6|
|1976||Philadelphia||Navy, 38-10||Army, 36-35-6|
|1977||Philadelphia||Army, 17-14||Army, 37-35-6|
|1978||Philadelphia||Navy, 28-0||Army, 37-36-6|
|1979||Philadelphia||Navy, 31-7||Tied, 37-37-6|
|1980||Philadelphia||Navy, 33-6||Navy, 38-37-6|
|1981||Philadelphia||Tie, 3-3||Navy, 38-37-7|
|1982||Philadelphia||Navy, 24-7||Navy, 39-37-7|
|1983||Pasadena, Calif.||Navy, 42-13||Navy, 40-37-7|
|1984||Philadelphia||Army 28-11||Navy, 40-38-7|
|1985||Philadelphia||Navy, 17-7||Navy, 41-38-7|
|1986||Philadelphia||Army, 27-7||Navy, 41-39-7|
|1987||Philadelphia||Army, 17-3||Navy, 41-40-7|
|1988||Philadelphia||Army, 20-15||Tied, 41-41-7|
|1989||East Rutherford, N.J.||Navy, 19-17||Navy, 42-41-7|
|1990||Philadelphia||Army, 30-20||Tied, 42-42-7|
|1991||Philadelphia||Navy, 24-3||Navy, 43-42-7|
|1992||Philadelphia||Army, 25-24||Tied, 43-43-7|
|1993||East Rutherford, N.J.||Army, 16-14||Army, 44-43-7|
|1994||Philadelphia||Army, 22-20||Army, 45-43-7|
|1995||Philadelphia||Army, 14-13||Army, 46-43-7|
|1996||Philadelphia||Army, 28-24||Army, 47-43-7|
|1997||East Rutherford, N.J.||Navy, 39-7||Army, 47-44-7|
|1998||Philadelphia||Army, 34-30||Army, 48-44-7|
|1999||Philadelphia||Navy, 19-9||Army, 48-45-7|
|2000||Baltimore, Md.||Navy, 30-28||Army, 48-46-7|
|2001||Philadelphia||Army, 26-17||Army, 49-46-7|
|2002||East Rutherford, N.J.||Navy, 58-12||Army, 49-47-7|
|2003||Philadelphia||Navy, 34-6||Army, 49-48-7|
|2004||Philadelphia||Navy, 42-13||Tied, 49-49-7|
|2005||Philadelphia||Navy, 42-23||Navy, 50-49-7|
|2006||Philadelphia||Navy, 26-14||Navy, 51-49-7|
|2007||Baltimore, Md.||Navy, 38-3||Navy, 52-49-7|
|2008||Philadelphia||Navy, 34-0||Navy, 53-49-7|
|2009||Philadelphia||Navy, 17-3||Navy, 54-49-7|
|2010||Philadelphia||Navy, 31-17||Navy, 55-49-7|
|2011||Landover, Md.||Navy, 27-21||Navy, 56-49-7|
|2012||Philadelphia||Navy, 17-13||Navy, 57-49-7|
|2013||Philadelphia||Navy, 34-7||Navy, 58-49-7|
|2014||Baltimore, Md.||Navy, 17-10||Navy, 59-49-7|
|2015||Philadelphia||Navy, 21-17||Navy, 60-49-7|
|2016||Baltimore, Md.||Army, 21-17||Navy, 60-50-7|
|2017||Philadelphia||Army, 14-13||Navy, 60-51-7|
|2018||Philadelphia||Army, 17-10||Navy, 60-52-7|
|2019||Philadelphia||Navy, 31-7||Navy, 61-52-7|
|2020||West Point, NY||Army, 15-0||Navy, 61-53-7|