Army Report Card: Kent State

Kent State's Dri Archer ran for 222 yards to lead the Golden Flashes to a 31-17 victory over the Army Black Knights at Michie Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Flashes defense, led by its star defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix, outplayed the Army offensive line and shutout the Army offense in the first half. Archer broke the game open with an 87-yard touchdown run.

Kent State's Dri Archer ran for 222 yards to lead the Golden Flashes to a 31-17 victory over the Army Black Knights at Michie Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Flashes defense, led by its star defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix, outplayed the Army offensive line and shutout the Army offense in the first half. Archer broke the game open with an 87-yard touchdown run. He opened the scoring when he threw for Kent state's first touchdown. The loss dropped the Black Knights to 1-5 on the season, while the Golden Flashes improved to 5-1.

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Trent Steelman probably deserved a better fate on the stat sheet
(5-of-9 for 66 yards). His first pass to Raymond Maples would have been a touchdown but Maples was obviously held and the referees missed it. It was a terrible non-call. Maples dropped his next pass in the flat which he should have caught.  Wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence had a career best six catches for 88 yards. He made a nice catch of the first ball thrown to him. He dropped a very catchable ball on The Opening drive of the second half that cost the Black Knights a first down. Patrick Laird (2 rec.,10 yards.,1 TD) wasn't able to pull in an under thrown pass at the end of the first half. However, his six yard on one-handed touchdown catch from A.J. Schurr was so spectacular it earned ESPN play of the day honors. It was an amazing one hand catch with the defender hanging on him. Steelman avoided a sack and found Dixon for a ten yard gain and a first down. Stephan Fraser had a 24-yard reception. Plebe quarterback A.J. Schurr had an impressive debut throwing the ball well as he completed 5-of-11 for 66 yards and a touchdown. Army's offensive line allowed a sack and had trouble with Kent State's defensive line.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D   
For the first time this year Army's offensive line was outplayed. The interior of the line could not handle the Golden Flashes star defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix. Kent State played an eight-man under defense and their physical defensive line often tied up Army's offensive line from getting to the second level. Too often the Army pitch back was met by the Kent State's play-side linebacker running clean to make a tackle. That normally doesn't happen and was a tribute to how well Kent State played up front. Army had some success but had too many negative plays to consistently string together scoring drives. One of the key plays was when Army went for it on fourth and inches from their own 39 yard and was stuffed by Kent State. It gave the Golden Flashes a short field and an eventual 17-0  lead.
Army rushed for 325 yards, averaged 4.6 yards a carry but had only one touchdown. Army was just 5 of 17 in third down conversions. Junior A-back Raymond Maples ran for a season low 80 yards. His fumbled pitch on the counter-option on the fourth-and-two play at the eleven yard line ended any hopes of an Army victory. B-back Larry Dixon averaged a season tying low of just 3.4 yards a carry as the Kent State defensive tackles took away the fullback. C-Back Malcolm Brown, who was sick all week, came off the bench to run for a season high 92 yards and Army's only score on the ground. Plebe quarterback A.J. Schurr (4 carries, 21 yards) demonstrated his quick feet and showed why he moved up the depth chart to become backup to Steelman.


PASSING DEFENSE: C   
Kent State starting quarterback Spencer Keith completed just 6-of-11 for 60 yards and one touchdown. Army sacked Keith once and limited the Golden Flashes to just one-of-nine on third down conversions. Kent State's first touchdown was on a halfback option pass from Dri Archer back to quarterback Spencer Keith for 24- yards. Bandit linebacker Nate Combs (4 tackles) picked up Keith out of the backfield but was outrun in coverage to the end zone. SAM safety Justin Trimble (4 tackles) left the game in the second quarter with a concussion. His replacement, Kyler Martin, was beat by Eric Adeyemi for a 30-yard touchdown pass. SAM safety will be an issue the rest of the year with Hayden Pierce out for the season with a broken collarbone. Pierce is the only SAM safety who has the speed to cover receivers down the field. Richard Glover (4 tackles, 1 sack) played well in his first start. He forced a punt on opening series of second half when he hustled after falling down and scrambled to his feet to sack Keith for 3-yard loss. The coverage by the secondary on passing downs was very solid overall. Free safety Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires (4 tackles, 1 pass def.) almost intercepted a third down pass but lost the ball when the receiver hit him. Geoff Bacon (14 tackles, 1 forced fumble) made a very nice play when he dropped the dangerous  Dri Archer for 2-yard loss on a screen pass. Bacon also stopped a drive when he hit
Durham knocking the ball out of his hands and out of bounds. He forced Kent State to settle for a Cortez 28-yard field after the offense failed to make it on fourth-and-1 from their own 39.
 
RUSHING DEFENSE: D   
The good news is Army held Kent State's leading rusher entering the game, Trayion "Bull"  Durham, to just 65 rushing yards on 21 carries. The bad news is when Dri Archer carried the ball the Black Knights defense looked like they were trying to catch a candy wrapper in a hurricane. Archer ran 12 times for 222 yards. His 87 yard touchdown showed how explosive he was in the open field. Marques Avery showed good speed in saving a touchdown when he knocked  Archer out of bounds after a 48 -yard run to  the Army seven yard line. Fellow cornerback Chris Carnegie (3 tackles) needs to stop tackling so high. On a reverse Archer outran Combs to the edge then spun out of a missed tackle by Carnegie for a 17- yard gain. Carnegie's worst mistake was going high again on the goal line against Durham. Bacon had him tied up if Carnegie squared up to him Durham would have been stopped. Carnegie instead went high and slid off allowing Durham to dive for the 2-yard touchdown and a Kent State 24-3 lead. Avery also watched the play instead of sticking his shoulder in there to help stuff the play. Carnegie did make a nice open field tackle on Archer after a 19-yard run in the first half that saved a touchdown. Clayton Keller made a nice play tackling Archer for 3-yard loss. T.J. Altimalala started and did a solid job at the point of attack making two tackles including 1 ½ behind the line of scrimmage.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D   
Chris Boldt averaged 39.5 yards on his four punts. Once again he struggled when the staff asking him to directional punt. He simply doesn't do it well. Dan Grochowski poorly hit a 47-yard field goal attempt that never had a chance. He cleanly hit one from 37 yards out in the third quarter. Eric Osteen nailed a touchback on his first kickoff but after a 35-yard return was asked to squib kick his last kickoff. Jon Crucitti will catch everything on punt returns but he lacks quickness to make anyone miss. He produced zero yards on the two punts he returned. On Kickoffs Stephan Fraser and Jon Crucitti averaged just 18.7 yards per kickoff return. The best return was by up-back Zach Williams who returned the opening kickoff 22 yards. Stephen Ricciardi, called for 15-yard personal foul penalty on the second half kickoff, ruined Osteen's touchback. The coverage units allowed a 1-yard punt return and a 35-yard kickoff return.

COACHING: C   
Rich Ellerson and the defensive staff had a solid game plan. The defense forced six punts but sometimes you face a player that can just destroy tackling angles with their speed like Dri Archer. The defense's play wasn't great but it was solid till the 87-yard touchdown run. I see comments all over the forum how it was coaching, intensity and all other excuses. The truth is the offense line was outplayed at the point of attack physically. I liked the counter action to get to the edge by offensive coordinator Ian Shields. The two fourth down calls were criticized but I disagree and think that just Sunday morning quarterbacking. The sneak by Trent was fourth and inches. An option team has to make that play. I liked the misdirection on the counter option pitch to Maples on 4-and-two at the eleven. Kent State fired their corners on the play  but if Maples caught the pitch he still had a chance for the first down. They have to stop asking Boldt to directional punt because he can't.  When Jackson is healthy he needs to replace Crucitti as the punt returner.

OVERALL GRADE: D   
The score wasn't a surprise except for the fact that the Black Knights were so inconsistent running the ball. It difficult for Army to put together their grind it out drives against such a physical defensive line. Army lacks the game breaker on offense at receiver to take advantage of Kent State playing eight in the box. Kent State won this game because their defensive line won the battle in the trenches and because they have a play maker in Dri Archer. 



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