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#114 An 88-Year-Old Rivalry Returns to Sabine Field

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, This Week in History

The “Little Army-Navy Game” was first contested between Norwich University and the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1929. That year, Norwich defeated Coast Guard, whose team name was then the Seamen, with a hard-won victory of 7 to 0. Though the game was tough, the cadets intermingled jovially after the game, with the Coast Guard cadets staying on campus for fraternity parties that weekend.

Norwich won the following year, in 1930, as well. On the eve of the 1931 matchup, a New London, Conn. newspaper publisher presented Norwich with a trophy he provided, an antique pewter cup that would come to be known simply as “The Mug.” Though Norwich was the first recipient of The Mug, they held onto it for less than 24 hours, as Coast Guard claimed their first victory of the series the next day.

The Mug passed between Northfield and New London repeatedly over the following years. The rivalry game was played in 71 of 77 seasons between 1929 and 2005, with Coast Guard holding a slim 38-32-1 all-time advantage. The longest continuous playing streak lasted from 1954 to 2005, when the two teams met every season for 52 years.

As for winning streaks, each school has had the distinction of winning five match-ups in a row. Coast Guard beat Norwich every year from 1971 to 1975. Norwich had two winning streaks bookending this time period: from 1966 to 1970 and from 1976 to 1980. In both 1979 and 1980, Norwich won by 43 points, a program record against Coast Guard.

Numerous highlights of classic Little Army Navy Games throughout history can be found in the pages of the Guidon. In 1940, a headline reading “Coast Guard Sunk” described a blowout game in which the Cadets picked off seven of the Bears’ ten forward passes. The NU program record for rushing yards and total yards of offense in one game was set against Coast Guard in the 1979 season.

The last time the Cadets defeated the Bears was in 2004. The 2005 season saw the temporary conclusion of the rivalry when the two schools were separated by the reorganization of the football conferences. In 2013, it was announced that the storied rivalry would be renewed in the 2017 season. Hopefully The Mug will be making its way back to Northfield after the teams meet once more on September 23 during this year’s Homecoming Weekend.

Don’t miss this game! Register to attend homecoming and watch the rivalry once again: