Sprint Football wins CSFL championship, tops Navy

By JJ Klein Army Athletic Communications

November 14th, 2019 | Army and Community Sports, Sports
 The Army West Point sprint football team celebrates after shutting out service academy foe Navy, 13-0, Friday evening at Franklin Field in Philadelphia to reclaim the Collegiate Sprint Football League title. Photos by Mady  Salvani/Army Athletic Communications
 Senior captains linebacker Onorino Tamburri and wide receiver Tom Williamson receive the CSFL Championship trophy after the Black Knights victory. Photos by Mady  Salvani/Army Athletic Communications

The Collegiate Sprint Football League  Championship trophy is returning home.
The Army West Point sprint football team blanked service academy foe Navy, 13-0, Friday evening at Franklin Field in Philadelphia to reclaim the CSFL title.
“It’s the best feeling in the world when your able to overcome a loss earlier in the season to the team that beat you,” Head Coach Mark West said. “To play the way we did and beat a really, really good football team it’s just an amazing feeling, and I’m so proud of the guys.”
The game was a defensive battle, as Army clung to its 6-0 lead that it took in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run from junior running back Matthew Sauter. That was until junior quarterback Ryan Sullivan connected with junior wide receiver Nitai Chun across the middle of the field for a 56-yard touchdown reception with just over five minutes remaining.
“We had a couple of unfortunate turnovers that gave Navy some decent field position, but the defense never broke,” West said. “All around this defense has been solid the entire year. They’ve kept us in ball games and I couldn’t be more proud of them and really the whole team for just sticking together.”
The Cadets held Navy to just 125 yards of total offense and eight first downs. Leading the way on the defensive effort were junior defensive lineman Navonte Dean, who finished with 10 total tackles, and senior defensive lineman Bobby Downing, who had nine.
The senior class finished with a 26-4 record in their four years. They were part of two CSFL champion teams in 2017 and 2019.

Army highlights and game notes
• This marks the Black Knights’ 36th CSFL title and the fifth under head coach Mark West.
• Since the CSFL adapted a title game three years ago, the Black Knights have advanced to the championship each year that it has been held. This marks the second time they won the title game.
• The Army defense had nine sacks on the evening, with Bobby Downing (3.5) and Navonte Dean leading the way for the team.
• Sauter’s touchdown was his fifth rushing score of the season. He found the endzone by way of the ground in Army’s last five games.
• Chun reeled in his fourth touchdown reception of the season and third in the last two games.

How it happened
First quarter
• Both defenses showed their strength in the opening quarter, with the first two drives resulting in three-and-outs and the next two ending in turnovers.
• Army was the first on the board with a seven-yard run from Sauter with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter to put the Cadets ahead 6-0.

Second quarter
• The Black Knights defense continued to give Navy’s offense problems in the second quarter, holding the Midshipmen to just 29 yards of total offense in the frame and no first downs.
• Navy’s defense also had answers to the Black Knights offensive attack, keeping Army off the board.

Third quarter
• The two teams played the field position battle in the third quarter. Navy had the early advantage with its first two drives of the quarter starting at midfield and its own 46-yard line.
• Army regained the advantage in the field position game largely in part of a 39-yard connection between Sullivan and senior wide receiver Tom Williamson.

Fourth quarter
• Navy orchestrated an 11-play 38-yard drive that ate up just over six and a half minutes. The drive ended on a fumble on a 47-yard field goal attempt that was recovered by Army junior defensive back Nate Hagg.
• The Black Knights added the exclamation point on the next drive with Sullivan’s 56-yard touchdown pass over the middle of the field to the wide open Chun on 3rd and 11. The connection put Army ahead 13-0 with 5:07 left to play.