THE BEST MOMENTS OF 2013
Baggett's break out day against Eastern Michigan
Army running back Terry Baggett had always impressed us at ArmySports.com from the time we first saw him on the practice field as a plebe. We've had written positively about his ability but due to multiple injuries he appeared in only the few games his first two seasons. Baggett has been able to stay healthy this year and showed what he could do. He picked up the slack after Raymond Maples suffered a season ending injury against Stanford. On October 12 against Eastern Michigan, Terry had the greatest rushing performance in Army history when he ran 18 times for a school record 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He scored on touchdown runs of 4, 67, 34 and 96 yards. Baggett shattered Michael Wallace's rushing mark of 269 yards which was set in 1999. It was the first 300-yard rushing performance for Army in its 123 year history. Baggett became the 18th player to rush for one thousand yards.
Time for a Change
Army stumbled badly the last three years posting a miserable 8-28 record. The Black Knights' record stood at 3-4 after the victory over Eastern Michigan. Army finished the season with five straight losses. While that fact doesn't sound like they should be on a best moment list, the truth is the program needed a change in leadership. Army's athletic director Boo Corrigan and Superintendent Lieutenant General Robert Caslen made the correct call and fired Rich Ellerson which gives Black Knights fans hope for a better future.
A win on the road again
The high point of the Rich Ellerson era was the bowl road win over SMU in the Bell Helicopter Bowl at the end of 2010. After that victory Amy lost 11 consecutive games on the road. Three years later they played one of their best game all round games as they defeated Louisiana Tech 35-16. The Army Black Knights overcame the bad weather, injuries and two separate game delays as they ran for five touchdowns at the Cotton Bowl in the newly created Heart of Dallas Kickoff Classic.
Staring down Stanford
I'm not a big believer in moral victories but Army played an excellent game and competed against No. 5 ranked Stanford (now 11-2) in dropping a 34-20 decision. I figured the powerful Cardinal team would put up at least 50 against the Black Knights. Army battled for most of three quarters before Stanford pulled away.
Army used two early defensive three and out series and a turnover to grab an early 6-0 lead. The Cardinal was able to get their offense untracked but the Black Knights hung tough and were down just 20-13 at half time. Army's hopes of pulling the upset ended as their offense struggled through a scoreless third quarter as Stanford extended their lead. This was the first time since 1962 that Army played a top five ranked team at Michie Stadium.
Santiago's career game
Angel Santiago had a disappointing sophomore campaign where he dropped to third string on the depth chart. Santiago rebounded with a tremendous summer camp to win the job. In the opener against Morgan State he had the best game of his career rushing for 120 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 101 passing yards and a touchdown pass. Santiago looked like he could be an effective replacement for Trent Steelman after the 28-12 victory. Unfortunately, while Santiago didn't make many mistakes he failed to make many plays. He never played at that level again. The victory over Morgan State was Angel's only 100 yard rushing performance all season.
THE WORST MOMENTS 2013
A Dozen losses against Navy
The Army Black Knights were thoroughly outclassed by the Navy Midshipmen in a 34-7 loss in America's game. The 114th meeting was played in a steady snowstorm. Army gave sophomore AJ Schurr the start at quarterback but he fumbled on his first two series and was benched. His replacement, Angel Santiago, didn't fare much better as he turned over the ball twice and led only one touchdown drive. On the other side, Navy's talented sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for 136 yards and scored three touchdowns as he set the NCAA single season touchdown rushing mark for a quarterback with 29 scores. Army's offense struggled to sustain drives while the defense was victimized by a big plays and costly roughing penalties. Army has now lost the last 12 games in the series. The Black Knights ended the season with five consecutive losses. Head coach Rich Ellerson's was fired the day after the game.
Auguring in against Air Force
Black Knights lost to the Air Force Falcons 42-28 in Colorado Springs. Army jumped out to an early first half lead but couldn't answer as the Falcons ran off 21 unanswered points. Army's run defense was pathetic as Air Force's Anthony LaCoste rushed for a career-high 263 yards and scored three touchdowns. The game was tied 21-21 at half time. In the Rich Ellerson era Army has led or was tied with Air Force in the three games in Colorado Springs at half time. They have lost all three games as Air Force has outscored them 73-7 in the second half. The loss ended Air Force's seven game losing streak. Army was the only FBS team they beat all year. It was the Black Knight's second consecutive loss against one-win teams playing freshmen quarterbacks.
Need a Win? Schedule Army
Black Knights record stood at 3-4 when they faced a winless Temple team. The Black Knights committed four turnovers in a disappointing 33-14 road loss. Temple's new freshman quarterback P.J. Walker struck early against the undermanned Black Knights defense and jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead. Army lost quarterback Angel Santiago to his recurring ankle issue and the Black Knights offense was lost without him. Backup quarterbacks Kelvin White and Devin Long both lost fumbles which were converted into easy touchdowns by the Owls. Temple had a 33-0 lead before Army scored two touchdowns. Army traveled to Hawaii in late November and lost to the 0-11 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 49-42 at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii dominated Army early as they jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead. The Rainbow Warriors lived up to their reputation as an undisciplined and horrible third quarter team as they allowed Army's backup quarterback AJ Schurr to direct three consecutive touchdown drives to tie the score at 28-28. Hawaii rebounded and answered with three long touchdown drives each over 75 yards against the Black Knights hapless defense. Army's offense scored twice in the fourth quarter but couldn't overcome the deficit as Army's defense struggled to get stops. The sad part was that both Temple and Hawaii were winless when they faced the Black Knights but were clearly the more talented teams. After the victory over Eastern Michigan the Black Knights faced teams with a combined 6-28 record including three teams that had not beaten an FBS team in 2013. Army lost all four games.
Toppled by the Hilltoppers
Army Black Knights lost to Western Kentucky 21-17 at Michie Stadium on Senior Day. The Hilltoppers scored two fourth quarter touchdowns in the comeback win. The Black Knights held Western Kentucky and one of the best running backs in the nation, Antonio Andrews, scoreless in the first half and took a 3-0 lead into half time. Angel Santiago had a costly lost fumble at the goal line on the opening series. Terry Baggett's twenty-yard touchdown run gave Army a 17-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Army had the chance to run out the clock but failed. WKU responded with an 87-yard drive to score the game winning touchdown with just 32 seconds left in the game. It was one of those classic Army being Army moments when the team makes mistakes, takes a penalty or fails to make a play when it has the chance. It's the difference between a winning and losing program.
The Firing of Rich Ellerson
I don't question the decision to fire Rich Ellerson. With five straight losses to Navy, a 1-9 record against the service academies it was obvious the program was struggling. It is sad to see a good coach fail in what he considered his dream job. Ellerson wanted to coach at West Point and enjoyed being here. His tenure began with such promise. The 2010 season was the first winning season in fourteen years. It ended with a win over the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl which was the first bowl win for program in 25 years. The program fell off the tracks due to some misses in his first few years recruiting, recruiting attrition, some bad luck and a few poor decisions on his part. Ellerson, a defensive expert, was never able to straighten out that side of the ball the last three years. It led to his dismissal. ArmySports.com wishes the best of personal and professional success to Rich Ellerson and his staff. They were always very gracious with their time in answering our questions.
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