Army Report Card: Fordham

Army defeated Fordham 42-31 on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knights performance in several key team areas.

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed 2-of-4 passes for 48 yards. Santiago missed Joe Walker deep on a post pattern on a third down during the opening drive. Walker was opened but Angel overthrew him.

On the next drive Santiago scrambled and threw late to Xavier Moss and the pass was broken up. Santiago was lucky it wasn't intercepted. The next play he made a poor decision to pass to hit Edgar Poe short of the first down for five yards. He had Walker open ten yards deeper breaking free running the same pass route.

Santiago didn't throw another pass until the final series when he hit Kelvin Walker for a 43-yard gain to the one with 13 seconds left in the game and the Fordham team expecting Santiago to take a knee.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A
The Black Knights ran for 382 yards, averaged 6.0 yards per carry and had five rushing touchdowns. Larry Dixon ran for a game-high 158 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth time this season he ran for over 100-yards. Dixon passed Army's legendary the 1946 Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis, Mr. Outside, with 3,098 career rushing yards. Larry now ranks fourth all-time in Army history. Dixon has 1,025 rushing yards this season. The B-backs took a beating as Aaron Kemper ran six times for 20 yards in spelling Dixon before he was injured. Matt Giachinta had a four yard run before being hurt on the kick coverage team. Even Dixon was down on the sideline getting his knee worked on for a series.

Quarterback Angel Santiago (17 att., 42 yards) struggled a bit in the first half before getting the offense started. AJ Schurr (4 for 70 yrds) replaced Angel on the third series and his 54-yard run sparked the offense even though AJ was hurt on the play and missed the rest of the first half. Schurr opened the third quarter under center and directed a touchdown drive that saw him run over Rams Mike linebacker Austin Hancock. Schurr injured himself running a play when he took a misstep without even being hit and missed the rest of the game. Schurr’s china doll durability is a concern moving forward with him as the heir apparent at quarterback. Santiago did a nice job the rest of the way running the offense in finishing the final four touchdown drives.

Terry Baggett (6 att., 52 yards, TD) ran over De'nard Pickney on his six yard touchdown run. Raymond Maples (2 for 10, TD) showed his old power on his touchdown run. Maples blocking wiped out the Rams linebackers all day. Joe Walker (3 for 11) played well. Trenton Turrentine always brings the lumber on his rare chances to carry the ball as he demonstrated his hard nose running style on a six yard run.

I was pleased with the performance of the offensive line with three offensive line starters Steve Shumaker, Ryan Alexander and Colby Enegren all missing the game with injuries. Freshman direct admit and Scout three-star recruit Bryce Holland made his first start. The staff shuffled in lineman but once they got rolling the Rams couldn't stop them. Drew Hennessey had a costly false start penalty on fourth-and-one that forced Army to punt.

PASSING DEFENSE: C+
The Black Knights secondary played their bend but don't break defense well in the first half as they allowed short completions yet made tackles to limit yards after the catch. The Army defense allowed only three points in the first half, the touchdown was thrown by the punter, despite the Rams posting 219 yards of offense.

The Black Knights used a pass breakup by Andrew King ( 4 tackles, sack, PD) which was deflected and intercepted by John Voit (1 tackle) to stop a drive. King sack late in the second quarter set up the blocked punt that gave Army a lead it never relinquished. Army did allow 28-of-39 passes for 381 yards and four scores with an interception. It was quite as bad as it seems on paper. The cornerbacks and front seven did a good job limiting the yards after the catch on the bubble screens that the Rams like to run. Chris Carnegie (6 tackles, TFL, PD) did a nice job on that front and almost had another pick six but couldn't hold on to the pass. In the second half the defense opened with a nice series as Josh Jenkins (2, PD, BK) broke up a pass to Sam Ajala forcing a punt.

Then the wheels fell off in similar fashion to the Buffalo game that started the season. The Rams started to focus on the Black Knights safeties. Rhyan England (5 tackles) was beat by Brian Weitzel for a 65-yard touchdown to pull within 17-28. England was beat in coverage then missed the tackle. With the Black Knights in man coverage near the goal line the Rams had the receivers cross away from Carnegie and in front of Hayden Pierce (2 tackles) for a touchdown. Pierce had a rough game after missing last week with an injury. He went for the interception on the fake punt pass into the end zone instead of knocking it down and it cost a touchdown. Earlier in the drive on third-and-10 Pierce had a chance to force a punt but was late to break on the running back Pearcey catching a short pass and missed the tackle allowing him to pick up 13 yards and a first down. Pierce was victimized on the last Fordham touchdown pass as the ball hit off Sam Ajala hands and deflected right to Ada Malkiewicz as Pierce fell on a 51-yard touchdown pass. Tevin Long (4 tackles) played nickle back and nearly picked off a pass but it deflected off his hands to the Rams Brian Weitzel for a completion.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C+
The Black Knights run defense allowed 90 rushing yards. The Rams averaged 5.0 per carry for the game but were held out of the end zone. Inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf ( 9 tackles, TFL) had a nice hit on quarterback Mike Nebrich on a read option to drop him for a three yard loss and helped force a punt. Mike Ugenyi's only tackle helped bring down elusive running back Chase Edmonds and forced a punt. Richard Glover (4 tackles, TFL) did a solid job with four tackles and helped on some of the bubble screens. Former quick end starter Dalton Mendenhall (3 tackles) saw his most action all season with senior Stephen Ricciardi missing the game with an injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 36.3-yard average. He placed two punts inside the twenty yard line. Jenkins did a nice job keeping a punt out of the end zone allowing it to be downed at the five yard line. The punt team technically allowed the first touchdown pass but the Army deep safeties were on the field so I won't blame them. Josh Jenkins (KR 3 for 64 yards) had a nice 33 -yard kickoff return. Edgar Poe gained only one yard on his only punt return. Jenkins blocked Joe Pavlik's punt with 16 seconds left in the half in the end zone After a wild scramble senior Lamar Johnson-Harris (1 tackle) finally fell on it for Army's first touchdown off a blocked punt since 2007. It changed the momentum of the game. Stephen Fraser had a nice hit on the kick coverage team. The kick return team allowed a 59-yard return. Cale Brewer's kickoffs were short and he had one that was out of bounds. Brewer had another big hit on a tackle. Jeremy Timpf recovered an on-sides kick after Jenkins dived at the kick but couldn't hold it. Upback Kelvin White ran 14-yards for a first down on a fake punt. The special teams made mistakes but the punt block touchdown turned the momentum of the game.

COACHING: A
Jeff Monken pushed and prodded his team until they finally got rolling on offense. I thought Monken was smart to be aggressive on fourth downs and properly respected the Rams passing game. I didn't like his decision to pass after the onside kick with seconds left in the game and the Rams expected the Black Knights to take a knee. I thought it was lame but I will discuss his reasoning in a separate article.

Offensive coordinator Brent Davis did a great job with his unit missing three starters on the offensive line. It was a classy move to see him get Baggett, Dixon and Maples touchdowns in their final home game. Jay Bateman’s defense played well in the first half and through the start of the third quarter before breaking down on three touchdown passes. I thought his scheme was excellent and I liked him playing a lot of nickel defense with Ricciardi out.

OVERALL GRADE: B
This was an excellent effort against a dangerous ten win FCS team that has a lot of talent. The way this game started, with Army getting down 10-0, you could have seen this game get away from the Black Knights. Monken kept pushing, going for it a number of time on fourth down and demanding more which made the difference and earned the Black Knights the victory. This senior class didn't have a lot of team success but they put up some of the best rushing numbers over the years in Army history and deserved to leave Michie Stadium with a win.

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