October 8, 2012

Heroes of the Hudson Soar above the Eagles

The Heroes of the Hudson won their first game this season yesterday at their rockbound highland home improving their record to 1-4.

Army squared off against Boston College of the ACC. The Black Knights couldn't have asked for a better weekend to turn the tide of their slow season as Michie Stadium played host to a sold out crowd of 39,492. This is the largest attendance at Michie Stadium since November 6, 2004. The nearly 40,000 people in attendance came expecting a thriller, and that's just what both teams gave them.

Saturday was the 37th meeting in the series between Army and Boston College, a series which Boston College now leads 24-13. However, Army proved that they can still soar with the Eagles by running the triple option offense and relying on the triple threat of Raymond Maples, Trent Steelman, and Larry Dixon.

Steelman also surprised Army fans by racking up 79 passing yards, a number that is low for most teams, but a significant improvement for the Black Knights. The senior QB and four year starter was 5 for 12 in the air on Saturday, connecting with Patrick Laird 3 times for 42 yards. Also, Chevaughn Lawrence and Maples each contributed one reception, with Lawrence's diving catch at a decisive point in the game for 28 yards.

The Man of Steel

Two weeks ago many Army fans were questioning whether Steelman would be playing at all the rest of this season as he came out of the game against Wake Forest with an apparent rib injury. However, Steelman, the heart of the triple option offense for the Black Knights, put those qualms to rest this weekend as he rushed for 141 yards over 22 carries and contributed 3 rushing touchdowns. These touchdowns make the signal caller the all time leader in rushing touchdowns for any Army quarterback and 3rd overall for any army player. Steelman, who takes more hits than almost any other quarterback, has proven his resiliency many times, especially over the past two weeks. Furthermore, he is often criticized on his passing abilities or lack thereof, but he forced Boston College to respect the air 'assault' by putting up nearly 80 yards at crucial points throughout the game.

Army Hits The Ground Running

For an Army's offense, setting the tone of the game is crucial and doing so early, whereby the Black Knights aren't playing "catch-up" for the rest of the game. The offense managed to do this by scoring on their first two drives. Needless to say, this gave Army a strong base to build their running offense off throughout the remainder of the game. However, the two turnovers during the second quarter nullified the strong initial showing by allowing Army to go down 14-24 as the end of the half approached. This ten point deficit was the largest depression Army fell in the whole game because they managed to go into half-time with some momentum that carried into the third quarter. Freshman kicker Dan Grochowski nailed a career-high 46 yard field goal as the first half expired sending the team into the locker room only down by a score. This was the longest Army field goal since the game against Kent State in 2010.

Dixon Does The Dirty Work

The powerful running from Larry Dixon in the second half helped the Black Knights take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. In the second half alone, the sophomore fullback rushed for 88 yards on 10 carries and contributed a rushing touchdown. In addition to scoring in the third quarter, Dixon ran for 55 yards on a fullback dive before he was tracked down from behind putting the Black Knights in field goal range. This is currently Army's longest play from scrimmage this season. Dixon's blocking, along contribution across the board, allowed Maples to rush for 184 yards giving him 9 career 100-yard rushing games for the Black Knights. Maples once again proved that he is an all-around back by contributing several significant blocks on the outside allowing Malcolm Brown and Trenton Turrentine to rush for a combined 54 yards.

A Barn Burner

The Black Knights were down 27-31 heading into what seemed to be there last offensive possession. They needed to put together a successful touchdown drive to come out on top and it appeared they were doing just that. The offense ran the triple option and marched down the field until they were knocking on the end-zone doors. On a fourth and goal from the 2 yard line, Steelman pitched to Maples and he came up just short. At this point the Eagles took over from the 1 yard line and all hope seemed lost by the Knights. However after a fantastic defensive stand by the Army defense the offense was given one last possession from the Eagle 38-yard line. After an incomplete pass and a 9-yard option run by Maples, Steelman made the split-second decision to keep the ball and cut up field that gave Army the final touchdown putting them in the lead by 3 with less than a minute remaining.

Eliminating Mistakes

In the first half, the Black Knights contributed two turnovers to their many turnovers this season. This made many Army enthusiasts nervous, but the Knights managed to hold on to the ball the entire second half allowing them to come back and defeat the Eagles. In addition to losing the turnover battle, the Black Knights had nearly 3 times as many penalty yards as Boston College.

Of course, eliminating penalties and turnovers are the measuring stick to the Black Knights' success or failure going forward in the balance of their 2012 schedule. Every game is a winnable game for Army.

For the upcoming game against Kent State, the Heroes of the Hudson will continue to concentrate on eliminating these mistakes as they take on a very competitive Golden Flashes team, that many observers feel is the best squad in the MAC.

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