San Diego State-Army, As It Happened
14:33 left, first quarter: Well, that didn't take long. Ryan "Chandler Harnish" Lindley smokes an Army defense that immediately faces a crisis of confidence. Gut check time, boys, and we're only 33 seconds into this dance.
11:36: A worthy try by Army. That ball by Trent Steelman was just slightly underthrown. The flow of the play wasn't bad. A little more repetition and the Black Knights could be there.
11:29: Oh, no.
9:53: Now that was reminiscent of the Armed Forces Bowl, when the Brave Old Army Team punked the talented Kyle Padron of Southern Methodist and made him flinch. More of that, please
9:20: Yes, Army will need some timely interventions of fortune. The ball should have been caught for a big gainer, but now San Diego State will have to punt. Whew!
7:36: Gorgeous pitch and catch from Steelman to Jared McFarlin.
7:30: Are you kidding me? If you are going to fumble (never a recommended move, of course) at least lose the ball because a defender devastates you with a thunderous hit you're not expecting. Unforced fumbles? The worst. At least make San Diego State earn this; force the Aztecs to feel pressure.
5:25: On the ropes with only nine and a half minutes gone in West Point.
5:17: The case of fumble-itis plaguing Army at the moment is chronic and malignant. Good heavens. There's just nothing else to say at this point. Who traveled from the West Coast for an early kickoff, and who is playing in its home ballpark? Army looks like the jet-lagged team so far.
3:39: Army is using quarterback plays to negate San Diego State's heft up front. That's a good early move to then set up the fullback later. No fumbles mean opportunities for the Black Knights to play this game the way they want to.
2:20: Outside for show, run up the middle for dough on 3rd and 2. Very encouraging. That's the right mix for the Brave Old Army Team.
0:45: There's your template, everyone. Army had San Diego State completely off balance on that drive. It's noteworthy that Army didn't even need a pass attempt. (That will come later.) The pacing and the mix of selections in the triple option truly pried open the Aztecs' hesitant defense.
End of First Quarter: San Diego State 14, Army 7. Trailing by a touchdown never felt so good – life has a way of providing counter-intuitive realities, doesn't it?
14:26 left, second quarter: On the play before Army's third-down stand, it certainly seemed as though San Diego State's receiver could have turned upfield to get the first down on 2nd and 10. At any rate, the Black Knights were resolute enough to make SDSU pay for that casual piece of pass catching. That's what good teams do.
12:13: What a colossal blunder by San Diego State cornerback King Holder. He ran upfield with an Army receiver on what started out as a pass play. However, Steelman tucked the ball away and ran. Holder never got the memo, and that's how Steelman was able to bust loose for more than 20 yards. Army will take that break.
11:08: Speaking of taking a gift, Army fumbled again, but the referees ruled the play dead and the replay booth never intervened. A little luck never hurt.
7:07: This is a recording. Somehow, Army got that fumble back.
6:53: Don't try to analyze this game. It will mess with your mind. Higher, more mysterious powers are at work in West Point.
5:15: Another deep ball is flat dropped by Los Aztecs. You can't make this stuff up. It's amazing what merely hanging on to the football can do for a team. San Diego State can't catch passes, and Army can't tuck the ball away securely on running plays. The first team to correct these correctable errors will take control of the proceedings. As an extra note, if you're not watching this game live: The weather is perfect. No rain or wind or snow – no excuses for this level of ballhandling on either side of the fence.
4:10: Wrapping up Ronnie Hillman, SDSU's gifted running back, and stoning him on 3rd and 4 is a highlight-reel play for any defender. Hello, Hayden Pierce!
2:32: There's the pass play that sealed the Armed Forces Bowl, the pass play that needs to surface a few times per game if the Black Knights are going to win games against particularly formidable opponents. Perfect execution, and great poise by Steelman to deliver a big-league ball under pressure.
1:38: [Insert exasperated generic comment about another Army fumble.]
1:20: Tremendous response by the Black Knights. It's been all Army ever since the 14-0 deficit… and that includes the Black Knights' continued case of the fumbles. A sustained pass rush was the first and foremost thing Army needed on defense.
Halftime: San Diego State 14, Army 14 … and that's with ten trillion Army fumbles. Pretty winnable ballgame, dontcha think? Fears of another Northern Illinois nolo contendere calamity were summarily dismissed after that atrocious start.
12:47 left, third quarter: Nothing electrifies a sideline and inspires a football team like pushing the pile and shoving an opponent into no man's land. Army is feeling it.
11:41: Officially, that's six fumbles. Unofficially, seven. Somehow, Army got it back. Give the Black Knights credit – they're regaining the ball when they put it on the carpet.
9:58: With SDSU bunching up and loading the box, that has to be Steelman's ball going wide. Not the time for the fullback part of the triple option.
8:40: If Army can't tuck the ball away, San Diego State still can't catch a forward pass. A not-so-classic confrontation in West Point.
7:48: There's the quarterback keeper again, and the Aztecs were quite undressed. If Bill Raftery was calling this football game, you know he'd have made a reference to lingerie just then.
3:17: San Diego State's pass blocking has been very sound, and with a strong dose of Hillman thrown in, the Aztecs are finally executing the way they expected to.
1:56: This 14-all stalemate held for a long time. San Diego State breaks it, but just when it seemed that momentum had fully flowed to Los Aztecs, a missed extra point dramatically changes the tenor of this tussle.
End of third quarter: San Diego State 20, Army 14. Yet, just one touchdown (with a PAT) and the Black Knights will have their first lead of the day. Remotely important play coming up, no?
14:23 left, fourth quarter: MALCOLM BROWN! WHOA! Juking, jiving and sideline striving! Spectacular!
12:37: Malcolm Brown and his band of renown. That ballsy conversion gave wings to the Black Knights.
12:37: Army returns the favor to SDSU by missing its own PAT. There are no words.
12:04: The 15-yard penalty just called on Army only magnifies the fact that the Black Knights (and the Aztecs) have not littered the field with laundry. It's only the dropsies either team must worry about.
9:34: Great defense by Army, but let's catch the interception.
9:29: That's a three-point dropped pick by the Black Knights. The dropsies rear their ugly head on defense for Army, not just on offense.
8:25: Steelman hurt. Oh, no.
8:25: Good call – the elbow was definitely down first. Now, let's see whatcha got, Max Jenkins.
6:00: Still more dropsies. Jared McFarlin has to pull down that beautiful pass from Jenkins. Lord have mercy.
4:33: Max Jenkins – ARMY STRONG. ONIONS! Steelman back in. High drama at Michie Stadium right now.
2:09: How did Army get that ball back? How? And now we're back to Jenkins. What a rollercoaster.
1:40: We had been saying that Army has not been killing itself with penalties. So, about that…
1:00: Such a first-class effort by Army's defense, and a lot of really hard work by the Black Knights' offensive line, are about to go to waste. There's so much to be encouraged about. Well, other than the total of nearly 10 fumbles. Yeah, minor little glitch.
Final score: San Diego State 23, Army 20.
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