Army has made a habit of playing close games since Rich Ellerson has taken over as Head Football Coach. Although Army has displayed a knack for pulling out tight wins, sometimes you just do not make the big play needed or you commit a costly mistake.
The beginning of the game looked to be disastrous for Army. In my preview I mentioned that it was important for the Black Knights to not fall behind early because their offense is not built to score in shorts amounts of time and the Hawai’i offense is deadly and loaded with speed. With 11:31 left in the second quarter, Army had fallen behind 21-0. It would have been easy to fold and let Hawai’i walk away from Michie Stadium with a laugher, but the quote from Rich Ellerson that I included in my last post rang true on Saturday. Army faced a lot of adversity in this game. Though no one wants to talk about moral victories, the Black Knights can take great pride in the way they responded. Army stormed back and scored four unanswered touchdowns, taking a 28-21 lead with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter. The fourth touchdown was scored by backup quarterback Max Jenkins who replaced an injured Trent Steelman.
Hawai’i answered on their next possession to make the score 28-28. After the teams traded punts Army went on a long, methodical drive that ended with a blocked Alex Carlton field goal attempt. That miss would loom large in the grand scheme of the contest.
After the Army defense forced another punt, Army started at their own 44 yard-line with 5:39 to go in the game. Again Jenkins directed the Black Knights on a methodical, effective drive that got the Black Knights inside the Hawai’i 30 yard-line with about a minute left. It looked like Army would walk away with at least a field goal attempt, but disaster struck when Jenkins fumbled. Hawai’i recovered with 24 seconds left in the game.
Aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the first play, Hawai’i was able to pick up 59 yards in 17 seconds. Hawai’i kicked a field goal with seven seconds left on the clock and held on to win the game.
What Went Right: Rushing Offense. The Black Knights were able to pick up 250 yards rushing. My choice for “Player to Watch” before the game, Jared Hassin, led the team with 83 yards and a touchdown. Malcolm Brown scored twice and Max Jenkins scored Army’s final touchdown of the day.
What Went Wrong: Missed Opportunities/Uncharacteristic Plays. The Black Knights had a field goal attempt blocked, fumbled when they were setting up for a go-ahead field goal attempt late in the game, and greatly helped Hawai’i with a 15-yard penalty that handed the Warriors yards without taking time off the clock on their final drive that set-up the winning field goal. If Army wants to win a lot of games this year they absolutely can, but not if they neglect the little things.
Player of the Game: Tough to pick one for this game. Josh McNary had a great showing with three sacks and a forced fumble for Army. My pick for “Potential X-Factor”, Kealoha Pilares, had six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. My pick for Player of the Game is Bryant Moniz. Moniz threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns for Hawai’i.
Final Word: Army has a lot to be proud of. This Hawai’i team lost to USC 49-36 even after losing Moniz in that game and using a total of three quarterbacks. Moniz was healthy and played well against Army. The Black Knights took the Warriors’ best shot and were still in a position to win this game. They should have won this game. Still, they proved that they can compete with teams that outmatch them physically in terms of size and speed. Although this loss stings, it shows that this is a special Army team that still has the opportunity to turn a lot of heads this season.
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.