Report Card: Army vs. Rutgers

Army dominated the play on both sides of the ball in the first half to race to a 17-3 lead. Rutgers rallied back to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter while holding Army scoreless for the second half. Army opened the overtime with an Alex Carlton field goal. Rutgers responded with a drive that ended with a 1-yard Joe Martinek touchdown run to secure the 23-20 win.




Trent Steelman completed 8 of 14 passes for 115 yards. Trent missed a sure touchdown pass on first drive of second half. Trent overthrew a wide open Brian Cobbs on a fourth-and-3 pass that would have been touchdown. Ian Shields took advantage of Rutgers switch to a 4-2-5 defense alignment in first half to open up the passing game and produce a field goal. Cobbs had two catches for 47 yards. Jared Hassin had two catches for 30 yards. Davyd Brooks contributed with 2 catches for 24 yards including a 19-yard reception. The offensive line was terrific allowing no sacks against a very athletic Rutgers front line.
Army averaged nearly five yards a carry and rushed for 289 yards and two touchdowns against a physical Rutgers team that ranked 10th in nation in rushing defense. Jared Hassin posted his second straight 100-yard game rushing 118 yards on 16 carries. Hassin showed his speed on 50-yard run that set up his own 6-yard scoring run. Trent Steelman ran for 102 on 27 carries. A poor pitch by Steelman into Brian Cobbs shoulder pads caused a turnover and ended a promising drive. Army was pinned on it own 2-yard line after a punt. That pitch hurt because Army drove 120 yards in last two drives of first half yet only had three points to show for their efforts. Malcolm Brown ran for 28 yards while Pat Mealy ran for 20. After center Zac Peterson was injured at the beginning of fourth quarter Army's running game was shutdown. Without Peterson Army rushed 14 times for only 24 yards the rest of the fourth quarter.
Army posted an academy record 8 sacks in the game with a tremendous defensive effort. Josh McNary had 2 1/2 sacks and is simply one of the premier pass rushing defensive ends in the nation. Bandit tackle Jarrett Mackey had the best game of his career and was credited with seven tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. Mackey lost a sack when he was penalized for an illegal horse collar that kept a Rutgers scoring drive alive. It was a bogus call because you cannot commit a horse collar penalty in the tackle box behind the line of scrimmage even if it's a quarterback in the pocket. It would be nice if the referees knew the rules. Defensive end Marcus Hilton had a sack. Give Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd credit he showed tremendous resiliency and made some clutch throws. Dodd completed 18 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Dixon was blatantly held on blitz in end zone but give Dodd credit for the 53-yard pass to DC Jefferson. It was a terrific throw. Safety Donovan Travis looks to be back to 100 percent after having played weeks with a sore shoulder. He recorded 12 tackles and had an interception. Cornerback Josh Jackson made two tackles but had trouble in cover at times with Mark Harrison. Nickel back L.B. Brown had five tackles but SAM safety Donnie Dixon had three tackles, a pass defensed, a sack and a quarterback hurry. He was very effective on the blitz. Brown had five tackles but was beaten by Harrison on a corner route by for a touchdown which tied the score in the fourth quarter. Rover Steve Erzinger had a costly roughing the passer penalty that nullified a Travis interception.
Rover Steve Erzinger had a career best 14 tackles. Army held RU to just 65 yards total offense including only 24 rushing yards in the first half. Army had been overmatched in the previous five games against Schiano's Rutgers teams. On Saturday they beat consistently at the point of attack the injury riddled Rutgers offensive line. Stephen Anderson had five tackles and forced a fumble in overtime that Rutgers unfortunately recovered. Marcus Hilton had five tackles. Cornerback Antuan Aaron made a nice tackle on Mohamed Sanu short of the end zone to force a field goal. Nose tackle Mike Gann had two tackles, half a sack and a quarterback hurry.
Alex Carlton missed from 40 yards when the wind was whipping in the first quarter. He hit his last two attempts from 21 and then from 26 yards in overtime. Lake of confidence in kicking game cost Army when Ellerson elected to go for it on fourth down rather than attempting another 40 yard field goal. Jonathan Bulls averaged 39.3 yards per punt pinning Rutgers inside their 20 once. Bulls had a clutch 46-yard punt from his own 11 that he placed out of bounds with 1:36 left in regulation. Bulls once again gave the opposition nothing to returns a the coverage was terrific allowing only 4 yards on two punts. Zach Watts made another big play blocking a punt that Sean Westphal recovered. It set up the Black Knights first touchdown. Josh Jackson muffed a kick off return that cost Army field goal position. For the game Jackson returned three kickoffs for 31 yards.
Offensive coordinator Ian Shields did a nice job of making Rutgers pay when it when to used a 4-2-5 just before the half and passed for 71 yards to set up a field goal. Defensive Coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland had a terrific game plan and attacked Rutgers all game. Rich Ellerson's decision on third down to call a time out with clock running at end of regulation was a head scratcher and poor clock management.
I'd rather win ugly than dominant almost all aspects of the game and lose like the Black Knights did Saturday. It was a very bitter defeat made worse by the serious neck injury suffered by Rutgers defensive end Eric LeGrand.

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