October 18, 2010

Army-Rutgers: Ten Game Shaping Plays

Last week we noted that every game on the schedule is a "must win", but with that we must add that every loss is a period of frustration.

Not because it feels like or brings fans back to moments under Berry, Ross and Brock … on the contrary. It is the fact that Army fans have seen and tasted what this ball club can bring each Saturday. However lays the frustration. There aren't too many coaches, players or fans that have not walked away from the Black Knights three losses this season and felt that each were in Army's grasp to be registered at wins.

But like most hard fought college football games, there are critical plays that often impact the net result of the contest and Saturday head-to-head with Rutgers was no different. GBK selected 10 plays that we believe help shape the outcome of the game, which turned out to be a statement game for the Army Black Knights.

1.]
When it happened: 10:12 into the 1st quarter.
What happened: Alex Carlton misses wide left on a 40 yard field goal attempt. Carlton was kicking into the swirly winds of the Meadowlands Stadium, but also, the junior kicker just did not hit the ball well.
Why it mattered: Those three points would come back to haunt Army as the game progressed, but it also represents Carlton's continuous inconsistencies and perhaps his lack of confidence.

2.]
When it happened: 4th & 16 at the Rutgers 22 yard line with 4:00 remaining in the 1st quarter.
What happened: The Black Knights Zach Watts blocks the Rutgers' punt and it's recovered & returned by Sean Westphal for 3 yards to the Rutgers' 12 yard line.
Why it mattered: Three plays later, quarterback Trent Steelman scores from 3 yards out, which is his 6th touchdown in the last three games. Army takes a 7-0 lead with 2:45 remaining in the 1st quarter.

3.]
When it happened: Rutgers has 3rd & goal at the Army one yard line, and 11:41 into the 2nd quarter.
What happened: Out of the wildcat, Mohammed Sanu is stopped for a one yard loss by Donovan Travis and Steve Erzinger.
Why it mattered: The play leaves Rutgers with a 4th & goal from the 3 yard line and Coach Schiano decides to kick a field, which Te hits from 19 yards out. So after a 13 play, 60 yard drive that took 6:58 off the clock, Rutgers walks away with only 3 points and really jump starts the Black Knights' defense that would hold Rutgers to minus one yard rushing for the entire game.

4.]
When it happened:8:59 left in the 2nd quarter and 2nd & 5 at the Army 43 yard line.
What happened: Fullback [db]Jared Hassin scampers 50 yards and is eventually caught by free safety Kahseem Green at the Rutgers' seven yard line.
Why it mattered: This gave Army a 1st & goal from the 7 yard line and two plays later, Hassin finishes the job by bulling from six yards out, scoring his 5th touchdown on the season and giving Army 14-3. Also it showed that Army was than capable of answering back after RU had put 3 points on the board from the previous series.

5.]
When it happened::24 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter.
What happened: With 2nd and goal on the Rutgers 5 yard line, Hassin is called for a false start - moving the back to the 10 yard line (repeat down).
Why it mattered: One of several "critical" penalties that the Black Knights would inflict upon themselves in "critical" moments. On the next play, Steelman gains 6 yards to the Rutgers' 4 yard line and on 4th & goal, Army has to settle for a 21 yard Carlton field goal. Clearly disappointing after driving 94 yards on 13 plays, with a 1st & goal from the 5 yard line - only to come up with 3 points. Not to mention that Army would be receiving the ball to open up the 2nd half. So versus having a 21-3 half time lead, the Black Knights end the 1st half leading 17-3.

6.]
When it happened:At the 7:21 mark in the 3rd quarter and 3rd & 23 from the Rutgers' 32 yard line.
What happened: Defensive tackle Jarrett Mackey is called for a horse collar penalty, which gave the Scarlet Knights an automatic first down at their own 47 yard line. Two plays prior, Josh McNary had sacked quarterback Chas Dodd for a 13 yard loss, followed by an incomplete pass due pressure from Army's front four.
Why it mattered: It allowed the drive that was about to be halted to continue and continue it did. The march that took 15 plays, 77 yards and an impressive 8:51 off the clock, netted Rutgers 7 points, but also closed Army's lead to 17-10. Clearly momentum was changing. The Rutgers' fans who were initially booing their team's performance, along some of Schiano's decisions - were now back into the game. And with the overwhelming sea of red outweighing the black & gold in the stands, the 4th quarter was going to be interesting.

7.]
When it happened: 4th quarter and 7:42 on the clock.
What happened: On 2nd & 8 from the Army 41 yard line, Dodd's pass is picked off by free safety Donovan Travis at midfield. However, Erzinger is called for a personal foul for his helmet to helmet hit on Dodd and Army is penalized 15 yards. Rutgers retains the ball and has it 1st & 10 at the Army 26 yard line.
Why it mattered: Six plays later, Dodd hits wide receiver Mark Harrison for a 16 yard touchdown pass and the score is now deadlocked at 17 with 6:00 remaining in regulation. If there was any doubt who had the momentum, the sea of red that painted the stadium, along with their cheers felt the shift to the Scarlet Knights.

8.]
When it happened: 3:42 left in the game.
What happened: Starting from their own 25, Army saw Hassin ramble for 11 yards, a reception by Austin Barr for 7, Steelman carrying for 8, followed by an incomplete pass by Steelman. However on 2nd & 10 from the Army 49 yard line, Steelman fumbles and it's recovered by Rutgers at the Army 45 yard line.
Why it mattered: There was plenty of time on the clock and worse case for the Black Knights would have been to get into field goal position and hope that Carlton could seal the victory. Now the ball would be in Rutgers hands with 3:42 left on the game clock.

9.]
When it happened: .30 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter and 3rd & 10 at the Army 35 yard line.
What happened: Mackey and Marcus Hilton sack Dodd for a 10 yard loss.
Why it mattered: With just .07 seconds remaining and out of field goal range, the Scarlet Knights are left with throwing up a Hail Mary pass, that is intercepted at by Travis and it's on to overtime.

10.]
When it happened: Army's initial possession in overtime and 3rd & 3 from the Rutgers' 7 yard line.
What happened: A broken play between Steelman and the backs nets a loss of one yard and brings Army to a 4th & 4.
Why it mattered: The Black Knights settle on a 26 yard field goal by Carlton. However, on their possession, Rutgers uses six plays before running back Joe Martinek hits pay dirt and gives Rutgers a 23-20 overtime win against Army.


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