The Rice Owls defeated the Army Black Knights 41-21 at Michie Stadium. The Rice offense, excluding taking a knee for one play before the half, scored on six of their first seven possessions. The Army offense was unable to sustain offense as it struggled against Rice's 4-2-5 defense and their preseason Outland Trophy candidate Christian Covington. Rice made 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage including a sack of Angel Santiago. The Black Knights pulled within 24-14 when Santiago hit Xavier Moss for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Army received the second half kickoff and, after a first down, Santiago fumbled a snap and Rice recovered. On the next play quarterback Driphus Jackson hit Jordan Taylor for a 41-yard touchdown reception giving Rice a 31-14 lead. Rice won its third straight while Army (2-4) lost its first home game in the Monken era.
PASSING OFFENSE: C
Angel Santiago completed 5-of-11 passes for 37 passing yards Santiago first pass attempt on the opening series was thwarted when he was forced to pull down the ball and was tackled for no gain on a 3rd -and-9 pass play when no one was open. Angel's next pass was a beautiful throw on move ,rolling right under pressure, when Santiago hit Tony Giovannelli who made a nice catch to give Army a first-and-goal from three yard line to set up their first touchdown.
On the next pass guard Stephen Shumaker failed to get out in front of Larry Dixon on a screen pass and missed his block as Dixon was dropped for a loss.
On the final drive before the half Santiago made a nice throw to Terry Baggett and there was contact and no flag was thrown. Later on the same drive Santiago was late on a button hook in the end zone as Edgar Poe failed to wall off the cornerback who deflected the pass as the ball was thrown late. He missed an open tight end in Kevin White when he overthrew him in the end zone. Santiago finally connected his first touchdown pass of the year when he finished the drive and hit Xavier Moss for a seven yard score. It was a well-designed drag route, with a legal pick play, that produced Moss's touchdown reception.
At the end of the third quarter Santiago did a great job avoiding sack and hit Terry Baggett for a short seven yard gain. Angel would have had chance long play but couldn't get pass away because the Black Knights had issues with their pass protection all day against Rice's blitzing 4-2-5 defense.
Santiago next two passes weren't bad throws but fell incomplete as Moss couldn't hang on to a pass and a nice long ball on a past was floated on target to Edgar Poe but knocked down by Rice's Banks at the last moment. Santiago completed his final pass to Kelvin White for six yards but well short of a first down.
A.J. Schurr played the final series after the game was decided. He completed 1-of-3 passes for 54 yards. His completion was a nice deep post pass to Edgar Poe who made a fine catch off his hip for the 54-yard gain. While the Army quarterback stats didn't reflect it there were three balls knocked down and Santiago threw the ball well under pressure all day to earn the "C" grade even if the numbers weren't great.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-
The Black Knights ran for 250 yards, averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. The Army's running attack was unable to sustain drives as it struggled against Rice's 4-2-5 defense. Rice made 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The offensive line had trouble blocking and had Rice shooting the “A”-gap and could not handle Covington.
Quarterback Angel Santiago ran 23 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Rice's aggressive defense run blitzed often and fired their cornerbacks which gave the Army offensive line trouble. Angel lost 25 yards over the course of the game being tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Santiago cut in and out for a twenty yard gain on the first touchdown drive. He showed excellent quickness on his 24-yard touchdown run which was well blocked. He made a bad pitch decision under pressure to a covered slotback and fumbled the ball but it was recovered. His fumbled snap on the opening drive of the third quarter was costly and converted the next play into a Rice touchdown. Army had a chance to make it 24-21 if it could score to open the quarter, but instead Rice extended its lead to 31-14 and the game was essentially over.
B-back Larry Dixon ran 13 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Dixon ripped off a 43- yard run to help set up the touchdown before the end of the first half. Terry Baggett had nine carries for 41 yards. He had a nice run off a pitch for an 11-yard gain on the touchdown drive at the end of the first half. B-back Aaron Kemper (3 for 10 yards) was crushed by Rice's Christian Covington on one carry. Tony Giovannelli lost four yards on his only carry and fumbled which Rice recovered. Quarterback AJ Schurr ran four times for 11 yards on the final drive. At the Rice 1-yard line he was stuffed for a two yard loss to end the game.
PASSING DEFENSE: D
The Black Knights were flummoxed by Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson who completed 15-of-21 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. The defensive backs missed tackles on the bubble screens
and were burned on double moves when they sat on routes.
Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, PD) had his worse game the entire season. Carnegie sat on a stop- and-go route by Mario Hall and was burned for a 32 yard gain on the double move. Carnegie never looked back for football on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Hall. If Chris turned looked for the ball he could have made a play to either knock down or intercept the pass.
James Kelly was beat in coverage by Darik Dillard on a 10-yard touchdown catch. Carnegie took a poor angle to the ball carrier and lost leverage when he could have kept Dillard out of the end zone. Carnegie did break up a bubble screen to help hold Rice to a field goal.
Cornerback Josh Jenkins (4 tackles, 2 TFL) did a nice job fighting off two blocks to drop receivers twice for losses on bubble screens. Hayden Pierce (3 tackles, PD) missed a number of tackles and blew a key coverage. Jordon Taylor caught a screen pass and Pierce and Ricciardi both missed tackles. The only a good hustle effort by Joe Drummond (4 tackles) from behind the play saved a touchdown. Pierce sat on a route, after Santiago’s fumble on the opening drive of the third quarter, looking for a bubble screen and let Jordan Taylor run right by him on a skinny post for a wide open 41-yard touchdown reception. Peirce later missed interception that went through his hands as he knocked it down.
Mike Ugenyi (2 tackles, sack) sacked Jackson as he ran over running back Jowan Davis who was trying to block him. Rice's Jackson was able to sit in the pocket and read his progressions as Army struggled to generate consistent pressure.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D
The Black Knights defense allowed 182 rushing yards as they gave up 4.4 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. Army defensive front play was uneven and when Rice was able to get to the second level their big offensive line often crushed the Army linebackers. There were too many missed tackles and the defense allowed Rice to score in six of their first seven possessions minus a one play kneel down at the end of the first half.
Stephen Ricciardi (10 tackles, 3 TFL, PD) reflected the Army defense as he was active but missed some tackles and was inconsistent. Riccardi missed sack but forced incompletion early in the game. Riccardi did have three tackles for losses. Steven Johnson and Riccardi both missed a tackle bubble screen and in frustration Riccardi hit the receiver after he was down drawing a 15- yard penalty. Riccardi did knock down a pass.
Linebacker Jeremy Timpf (6 tackles, 2 TFL) was crushed a few times by Rice's offensive line. Inside linebacker Andrew King (5 tackles) failed to fill on Dillard's 15-yard touchdown run and missed the tackle with Army in the nickel defense. James Kelly (5 tackles, FF) fought off block dropped Dillard short of first down and held Rice to a field goal. Richard Glover (1 tackle) got up the field on one play as Timpf dropped a Rice runner for a loss. Free safety Steven Johnson (2 tackles) was benched and replaced by Luke Prioux (2 tackles) because of missed tackles.
Prioux made a third down tackle to force a punt.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Dan Grochowski banged an extra point off the right upright and had no touchbacks on his four kickoffs. Punter Alex Tardieu had four punts for a 40.2 yard average and had his first punt downed inside the 10-yard line. He had two good and two poor punts. Josh Jenkins had a 21-yard kickoff return where he almost broke it for a big gain. Jenkins did nice job squeezing out of tackle to gain some yards on a punt return. Shawn Lemoto made a late hit cheap shot hit on punt return. Josh Jenkins forced a holding penalty coming off the edge to deny Rice a 46-yard field goal and force a punt.
Jeff Monken's team was prepared and played hard but broke down fundamentally and missed too many tackles. Army did a good job limiting the penalties again this week which is an improvement.
Offensive coordinator Brent Davis tried to get the slotbacks the ball more but it’s hard to be successful when Rice was blowing up the A-gaps all game. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s defense is missing too many tackles and still making the same coverage mistakes we've seen the past three years.
OVERALL GRADE: D
Army lost to a faster and more talented team. The Black Knights struggled to sustain offense and simply couldn't get Rice off the field when the game was in doubt.
Army Report Card: Rice
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