Army-Air Force, As It Happened
12:31 left, first quarter: Army isn't wasting time with finesse. Power, power, power in the A-gap. And it's succeeding.
9:19: Everything on the ground for Army on that drive, and fortunately, the fumble Max Jenkins put on the ground didn't wind up grounding that drive. It was a beauty. Army is amped up, as one would expect (and hope). The measure of this team has yet to be taken, though; sustaining this kind of effort and performance is the true test of champions… and CIC Trophy winners.
7:37: Clearly, the strength and vigor of Army's bust-out-all-over start to this game has carried over to the defensive side of the ball. Interior lines – on offense and now defense – are thoroughly carrying the play against Air Force's linemen. Rich Ellerson could not have dreamed of a better start.
3:44: Army hasn't yet thrown a pass yet, and that's the first running play in which Air Force's defense has looked good. We're 11-plus minutes into this game, and Air Force has only begun to show something of a pulse? That tells you all you need to know about the extent to which Army is soaring right now.
3:14: That was not a good time for a mix-up in the backfield, young Mr. Jenkins.
2:37: Tim Jefferson just gave Army an early Christmas present. What a stocking-stuffer that pigskin-on-a-platter is for Army and its momentum, right after the Black Knights basically stopped their own drive.
1:58: Some turnovers are more important than others. Air Force was just about to settle down while trailing by only one score. Now, it's a two-touchdown game, and the very dynamics that catapulted Air Force to an early lead over Navy in one CIC game have manifested themselves once again in this CIC clash. It's funny how life can and does repeat itself.
End of First Quarter Score: Army 14, Air Force 0. It's not hyperbolic in the least – Army truly could not have hoped for a better quarter in this game.
12:58 left, second quarter: Army has been brilliant so far, but it also has to be said that Air Force can't even line up properly. The Falcons are foggy, groggy and body-snatched thus far. Coach Troy Calhoun has to be wondering what his team is thinking about right now… it's not football.
10:55: That was a great time for offensive coordinator Ian Shields to unleash the forward pass, a contention backed up by the fact that the Black Knights got behind the Air Force secondary. Alas, Jenkins's pass was a few yards too long. That play could come back to haunt the Brave Old Army Team in the fourth quarter.
5:55: THAT'S A TOUCHDOWN! THE PILE SURGED INTO THE END ZONE! HOW COULD THE BALL NOT HAVE BROKEN THE PLANE?! The whole pile moved forward. Then the two side judges, standing there like icicles, watched the pile get pushed back by two yards. Then, ONLY THEN, did the side judges mark the ball at the 1. That is a TOUCHDOWN, and it will be overturned on replay review… we think.
5:55: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! The CBS goal-line camera so obviously shows that Jenkins's waist is on the goal line. The only way the ball didn't break the plane of the goal line is if Jenkins fumbled the ball or put the ball between his legs, which he obviously didn't do. Remember this about the notion of "breaking the plane": The ball does NOT have to penetrate the blue paint of the end zone – it does NOT have to fully cross the white-painted goal line. The ball merely needs to reach the front of the goal line, that's it. There is NO WAY Jenkins did NOT reach the beginning of the goal line, NONE! What an absolutely atrocious piece of officiating from the on-field side judges and from the replay booth. We need to see some paycheck amounts docked this week. That's an instance of gross malpractice on the part of an officiating crew and a replay reviewer. Completely unacceptable.
3:23: That was certainly not pass interference on Army, but at least CBS – a national broadcast network – could have shown a replay. Obviously, CBS couldn't be bothered. This game is really irritating any sane observer of college football and any fan who wants a game to be decided cleanly.
2:38: JUSTICE with that Air Force fumble. Justice.
0:25: The refs can't be blamed for that one. Holy cow – Army should be leading 28-0, but because of that fumble through the end zone, the Black Knights will have a mere 14-point lead at halftime. As a side note, a touchback (even ball possession) is way too generous a gift for a defensive team that fails to recover the offense's fumble. A fumble out of the back of the end zone could be seen as a play which merits a turnover by the offense, but in that case, the defensive team (Air Force) should have to start its subsequent drive on the 1. Personally, I think a fumble out of the end zone – by virtue of being unrecovered by the defense – should not result in a change of possession.
Halftime: Army 14, Air Force 0. Just watch Air Force come back in the second half. The officials will bear much of the blame, but so will Army after that fumble at the 1. Yikes.
14:09 left, third quarter: Here we go – you can feel the comeback by Air Force. Army needed to bank and deposit as many first-half points as possible before the Falcons got to the locker room and mentally regrouped.
12:31: That's a tremendous stand by Army's defense – immediate pressure on Tim Jefferson has been a constant feature of the Black Knights' performance today. The front four is dominating the Falcons, and the ability to show continued superiority on in a key third-quarter situation will alleviate fears that a comeback is in progress.
8:50: Ellerson needs to go for this. First, Army's been winning the battles in the trenches, and second, 14 points won't win this game. Play big-boy ball when a trophy (the CIC) is on the line.
8:17: Ugh. This is an 11-point game, but it should be a 25-point game. These scenarios don't end well.
5:58: That catch will give Air Force some juice.
5:15: THAT catch will put Air Force within one score in a few moments. Great catch by Zack Kauth of Air Force, but it also has to be said that Army's Tyler Dickson has to make a play on the ball. His feet were bolted to the ground; he needed to leap for the pigskin. Ouch. We should reiterate that Rich Ellerson needed to go for the first down on 4th and 1 near midfield – I didn't second-guess that move; I first-guessed it.
4:43: With that fumble, Army looks like a dead team walking even though it leads… for now.
3:59: One can't offer enough superlatives to Army's front four after producing THAT defensive stand at THAT time under THOSE circumstances.
2:18: Killer. Killer. Killer penalty. Not a personal foul as was the case against Ball State, but still a devastating and ill-timed penalty from Army's offensive line.
0:40: The fake was going to get a first down if not a lot more. Ironically, Air Force snookered Boise State with a fake punt a few weeks ago, only to drop the pitch on the fake. It is amazing that teams which use the triple option and preach ball security as a core pillar of winning football cannot… hang onto the football. Maddening beyond belief.
0:15: Inevitable, really.
End of third quarter: Air Force 21, Army 14. There's still a full quarter left, but Army fans have to feel as though their stomachs have already been punched, plain and simple. This is as wrenching as it gets, on par with last year's Navy game, for the Brave Old Army Team.
13:19 left, fourth quarter:[Insert exasperated comment about yet another Army fumble.]
12:30: CBS still can't be bothered to show a replay of a major penalty.
12:20: If Army doesn't make Air Force sweat bullets down the stretch, it will be hard to make too much of a fuss about the refs' blown call on the goal line (one can make more of a fuss about the fumble at the 1 just before halftime).
6:28: The Army defense has clearly played well enough to win today. The special teams unit made one critical mistake on the botched fake punt. The offense now needs to rise up and score.
3:53: No dice. Another turnover seals it. What a wasted opportunity this was and is and always will be.
Final score: Air Force 24, Army 14. Another CIC game goes begging for a team that simply can't hold onto the ball near the goal line in meaningful situations. Unreal.
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