The Army Black Knights, behind Larry Dixon's career-high 188-yard rushing performance, rebounded from last week's ugly loss against Yale with a 33-24 victory over Ball State at a rainy Michie Stadium. Ball State rallied late to pull with 27-24 but Army answered with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Jeremy Timpf's third interception of the season ended Ball State's last drive and sealed the win. The victory snapped a three-game slide for Army 2-3 which has won both of its games at home. Ball State dropped to 1-4.
PASSING OFFENSE: C
Army's starting quarterback A.J. Schurr didn't complete any of his two passes. One wasn't really a pass. It actually was forward pitch toward Terry Baggett that slipped out of his hand and was initially called a fumble but was correctly ruled an incompletion by the replay booth. His pass to Chevaughn Lawrence on the next play was behind him but the drive was kept alive by a Ball State roughing the passer penalty. On Schurr's last throw he was nearly sacked and almost was picked off. He had a receiver open short and deep but was rattled under pressure and threw it right at a cornerback
Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 48 passing yards after he replaced Schurr. Santiago first pass was incomplete when an open Tony Giovannelli slipped and fell down. Santiago completed an 11-yard pass to Raymond Maples to set up Grochowski's second field goal. Santiago completed a 37-yard bomb to Edgar Poe to set up a touchdown. Angel's pass hung in the air forever but Poe used his size to shield Ball State's Tyree Holder and pull it in. Santiago was sacked on his final pass attempt when no one was open. The play illustrated the difference between the two quarterbacks. Santiago will take the negative play and just have the team punt while Schurr tried to force a pass and was nearly intercepted.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
The Black Knights ran for 425 yards, averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. Larry Dixon ran 28 times for a career high 188 yards. Dixon ripped off a forty yard run to set up the second touchdown. He ran with power as he converted two third down runs on the final drive.
Angel Santiago came off the bench to run for 89 yards on 13 carries and scored the game clinching touchdown. He had back to back long runs of 27 and 37 yards respectively to set up a field goal. Santiago lost another touchdown on fourth down when his knee hit at the one yard line. Angel did a nice job managing the team. He is a better option quarterback than AJ because he'll take what the defense offers him, especially when the pitch man is covered instead of forcing it and making mistakes.
Terry Baggett had five carries for 64 yards and showed his speed and leg strength on a huge 39-yard run to set up the final touchdown. Baggett was blown up for a loss on one play when tight end Kelvin White fanned on a block.
Tony Giovannelli had 35 yards on six carries. Raymond Maples
(4 for 16 yards) is underutilized. AJ Schurr scored two times as he ran five times for 15 yards before being bench for his sloppy ball handling. He fumbled the opening snap but recovered it. AJ's ball security issues hold him back and he seems to have a lot of trouble handling a slick ball in bad weather. This game reminded me of his struggles against Navy last year and at USMAPS on a snow covered field at Columbia against their JV when he was benched for Kelvin White after two turnovers.
B-back Aaron Kemper (2 for 10 yards) scored on a nine yard touchdown run. Joe Walker fumbled again on his only carry and it set up Ball State's first touchdown. Matt Giachinta (4 for 8 yards) did convert a third down with a four yard run on third-and-one.
The offensive line saw two new starters in left tackle Corey Hobbs and right guard Colby Enegren. Stefan Moreau started in place of an injured Stephen Shumaker at left guard but Shumaker replaced him and played well. They entire line did a nice job and was effective except in the first and goal series from the four yard line when the Black Knights turned over the ball on downs. Angel should have scored on fourth down out of a heavy formation but the line failed to seal the edge and Dixon missed a kick out block.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
The Black Knight held Ball State's Ozzie Mann to 173 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception. They were helped by the wet weather conditions especially in the first half that limited the Cardinals to a short passing game. The defense did a nice job of keeping the ball in front of them.
Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, FR, FF) was more lucky than good when he overran Jahwan Edwards in the flat after a short swing pass but managed to knock the ball out. Carnegie recovered the fumble which set up Army's first touchdown. Cornerback Josh Jenkins (4 tackles) did a solid job in coverage. Mann didn't challenge him often.
Steven Johnson (5 tackles) was beat by Dylan Curry on his six yard touchdown reception. Johnson missed a number of tackles. He is going through some growing pains. He only played one year of high school football and was a cornerback at USMAPS. He has the ability to be a good player once his fundamentals improve. Plebe John Voit, last year’s USMAPS MVP, had a sack of Ozzie Mann off a fumbled snap.
Linebacker Jeremy Timpf (3 tackles, INT) was having a rather quiet game until he jumped a route to intercept a pass on Ball State's final series which ended the game. Timpf has excellent hands. Timpf did team up with Stephen Ricciardi (4 tackles) to pressure Mann once to force a punt. He helped force an incompletion on another blitz.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The Black Knights defense allowed 157 rushing yards as they gave up 6.3 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. Army allowed three long Jahwan Edwards runs, missed some tackles but it was much better performance than last week.
Inside linebacker Andrew King (10 tackles, PD) had the best game of his career. King tackled Mann for a loss after he fumbled a fourth-and-1 snap to turn the Cardinals over on downs. Andrew made a nice tackle when Edwards tried bounce outside to keep him pinned inside his own five on one series. It helped set up a short field and an Army field goal. King later had two big stops inside their own five to hold Ball State to a field goal.
Stephen Ricciardi (4 tackles) missed tackling Jahwan Edwards in the backfield, then Steven Johnson failed to square up to him in the secondary and missed another tackle on his 56-yard touchdown run. The Black Knights can't make those types of fundamental mistakes against a runner that fast and talented. Joe Drummond (6 tackles) did an excellent job getting off blocks and making plays. It seems the light has finally gone on for the senior.
James Kelly (5 tackles, PD) failed a few times to maintain containment and allowed Edwards to bounce plays outside for long runs. Richard Glover (2 tackles) had Edwards in the backfield but he broke free for a six yard touchdown run. Army is still learning the 3-4 defense and have issues maintaining their gap responsibilities. Still they did a solid job and made some short yardage stands. Hayden Pierce (4 tackles) had a bad roughing the passer penalty but showed good speed in running down Edwards twice when he broke free on two consecutive long runs. It helped hold Ball State to a field goal.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Dan Grochowski hit his first two field goals this season. He nailed one from 43-yards and a chip shot from 21-yards. It was a nice rebound performance. He didn't practice all week due to an illness. He had three touchbacks on seven kickoffs. The Black Knights missed the final extra point when holder A.J. Schurr dropped the snap.
Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 34-yard average and
had one punt downed at the one yard line with a nice assist from Steven Johnson. Johnson saved a touchdown on a 48-yard kick return by Ball State. Lamar Johnson-Harris delivered a nice hit on a kickoff return.
Josh Jenkins showed a good burst on a 39-yard kickoff return. Army averted disaster twice on the punt team. Jenkins dropped a punt but it was alertly covered by Jared Rogers. Plebe Alex Aukerman made a mental mistake on a downed punt when he failed to peel back and was nearly hit by the ball because he was too close after the punt bounced. Army may have caught a break on that play.
Jeff Monken did a nice job getting his team ready to play off an embarrassing loss. I liked the decisive move of going to Santiago at quarterback after Schurr was sloppy with the ball. They had only one penalty all day and that was a huge improvement. It was
a nice and much needed victory. I liked the mindset of going for it near the goal line even if it didn't work.
Offensive coordinator Brent Davis did a great job retooling his offensive line with two new starters and having Moreau replacing an injured Shumaker. It was a huge improvement and there were no penalties by the line. He needs to get Maples in the backfield more with Baggett and ignore the A-back designation for both. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman's unit rebounded. I liked how he mixed his coverage and blitzed more against a shaky quarterback. The fourth quarter defensive meltdowns are still an issue.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
Army had a number of moments when they tried to make the usual Army mistakes including giving up 14 points in the fourth quarter but they held on. It was a nice rebound win off a brutal loss.
The retooled offensive line, the steady hand of Angel Santiago at quarterback off the bench, Grochowski's first made field goals and the defense getting some stops helped the Black Knights prevail at home. It was a nice win and a boost for the team in defeating a Ball State team that had dominated them last season.
Army Report Card: Ball State
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