The Army Black Knights (2-9) dropped their fourth straight game in losing to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-7) at Michie Stadium on Senior Day. Rutgers built an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never trailed. Army's plebe quarterback Chris Carter ripped off a 45-yard run that set up his fourth down touchdown run from the 1-yard line to narrow the gap to 24-14. Rutgers had just enough time left on the clock to add a field goal just before the second quarter expired as Kyle Federico 41-yard field goal attempt barely cleared the crossbar to give the Scarlet Knights' a 24-14 at halftime. Rutgers opened the second half with a one yard touchdown run to increase its lead to 31-14. Army wide receiver Edgar Poe made a great leaping catch and run on a 65-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter to make it 31-21. Carter was intercepted in the end zone with 5:22 left in the game. Rutgers then ran out the clock to secure the win. Army's offense outgained the Scarlet Knights finishing with 401 yards compared to Rutgers 359 total yards.
PASSING OFFENSE: B+
Army plebe quarterback Chris Carter completed 4-of-6 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his first career game. It marked the most yards thrown by an Army quarterback this year. Carter’s 140 passing yard effort was the most for an Army quarterback since Trent Steelman threw for 149 yards at Kent State in 2010. Carter's first completion was actually a very late forward pitch to slotback John Trainor who raced 23-yards down the sidelines. Carter threw an incompletion that ended the next drive when he was lucky his seam pass intended for Nick Black that floated wasn't picked off by Rutgers.
Trailing 14-0 Carter found Edgar Poe (2 rec, 95 yds. TD) on thirrd-and-6 for a 30-yard pass play which set up a touchdown. It was a nice throw down the field against the Scarlet Knights cover two defense. Carter, on the opening drive Army drive of the second half, threw his best pass of the day when he found Nick Black in stride for a 22-yard gain in tight coverage. The drive ended with Carter holding the ball too long and being sacked. He had Poe open on a dig route underneath or he could have ran for the first down. Late in the third quarter on third-and-seven Edgar Poe made a great leaping highlight reel catch over a Rutgers cornerback Blessaun Austin to snatch the ball on Carter's underthrown pass. Poe stiff armed the cornerback and warded off his attempt to push him out of bounds as he tight roped down the sidelines for a 65-yard score.
Carter's ankle was rolled in the fourth quarter and he missed a few plays. Fellow plebe quarterback Luke Langdon, who had split time at USMAPS with Carter last year, replaced him for a few plays.
Langdon's under thrown back shoulder pass to Poe down the field fell incomplete but drew a pass interference penalty. Chris Carter returned to the game one play later. The drive ended with Carter's second-and-11 pass attempt for Tyler Campbell from the Rutgers 21-yard line being intercepted by Rutgers Josh Hicks in the end zone on what turned out to be Army's final offensive play. Carter showed what I discussed in his R-day preview: "He possesses just an average, at best, passing arm for an option quarterback. Carter is fairly accurate but lacks a lot of zip on his throws and his deep ball can float at times" Overall it was a nice debut.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B
Army ran for 261 rushing yards, averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored two rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Chris Carter played well in his debut despite two fumbles. Carter ran 20 times for 111 yards and scored a touchdown. He distributed the ball well and showed his speed on a 45-yard run that set up his touchdown. As I had discussed during his R-day preview, Carter has fantastic feet with the ability to change direction, cut, juke and accelerate past defenders. He was able to reverse pivot on a few plays seamlessly to confuse Rutgers defenders. His lost fumble gave RU a short field and set up their second touchdown.
Fullback Aaron Kemper ran 11 times for 59 yards and a score. He was held in check most of the game but had a classic Kemper run where the 5-6" fullback emerged out of the pile past linebackers who didn't see him for a 38-yard touchdown run. B-back Matt Gianchinta ran two times for 7 yards in his final home game. Drue Harris had three carries for five yards.
At slotback direct admit Tyler Campbell had a career high 40 rushing yards on six carries. He had a nice 12-yard run to convert a first down. Plebe slotback Christian Drake (3 att., 16 yds.) had all his carries off speed pitches that allowed him to get to the edge and convert some key third downs. John Trainor started but had just a carry for 10 yards on the opening series when he took back-to-back pitches for good yardage. The other forward pitch was ruled a pass. Nick Black saw more time as he ran four times for 13 yards. Forgotten Joe Walker had one carry for five yards to convert a third down. I'm not sure why Walker was making head fakes rather than lowering his shoulder but he picked up the first down anyway.
PASSING DEFENSE: C+
Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano completed 13-of-21 passes for 105 yards. The Black Knights did a solid job in coverage most of the game as they limited Rutgers to 3-for-10 on third down. Cornerback Brandon Jackson (2 tackles) was glad to see future NFL draft pick Leonte Carroo leave the game with an injury after being beat by him twice for first downs. Senior cornerback Chris Carnegie (4 tackles) played with too much cushion on last drive of first half when Janarion Grant picked up 21 yards after he was blocked. Rhyan England (8 tackles) had to push him out of bounds to save the touchdown but it set up the field goal before the half. Defensive end John Voit (8 tackles, TFL) had two nice plays on screen passes to force punts. He also hurried Laviano to throw the ball away before the half but West Point almost never credits quarterback hurries for some reason. Xavier Moss who lost his starting job had three tackles. Army limited the big passing play and did a good job on third down but the Scarlet Knights scored on five of their first six possessions so it’s hard to give anything better than a C+ despite allowing only 105 passing yards.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D
Army allowed 254 yards and a 6.5 average per carry and four touchdown. The Black Knights had played solidly against the run most of the season but were run over by Rutgers. Andrew King (9 tackles) Jeremy Timpf (8 tackles) were making most of their tackles down the field. Army had trouble against RU stretch play which created cut back lanes. On Paul James 54-yard run to open the second half safety Tevin Long (2 tackles) over pursued and miss the tackle. Jordan Smith (3 tackles) should have gone up field to force Grant inside on one long run as he gave up leverage and allowed the speedy Grant to easily run around him. Nose guard T.J. Altimala (2 tackles) was outplayed at the point of attack. Plebes Gibby Gibson (1 tackle) and Kenneth Brinson (2 tackles) started but made few plays. Linebacker Bayle Wolf returned after missing time and made three tackles. Until the fourth quarter Army forced only one punt.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
Kicker Daniel Grochowski had his 42-yard attempt blocked. Rutgers blocked all three field goal attempts that Grochowski had attempted against them. Grochowski squib kickoffs were successful in limiting big returns of Janarion Grant but they did give RU good field position all day. Punter Alex Tardieu hit his only punt 50 yards. Janarion Grant returned it 21-yards and would have been gone if not for a nice open field tackle by Kelvin White. Marcus Hyatt returned two kickoffs for 43-yards before leaving the game after being hit in the head. Nick Black had a nice 27-yard kick return showing some of the moves I haven't seen from him since USMAPS. Edgar Poe returned one punt seven yards. Michael McFadden had a penalty on a kick return. The fake field goal attempt had no chance. Calen Holt was called for roughing punter and cost valuable time when Army was trying to get back in the game.
Jeff Monken’s team played hard but was outmatched in this one. I didn't like his fake field goal for the second week in a row. It never had a chance and reeked of desperation not playing to win. Again, the positive in Chris Carter and so many other freshman taking snaps is the encouraging impact Monken has made on the recruiting front which will pay dividends. Time management was an issue. Monken should have used his time outs earlier on defense but it didn’t matter in the end. His challenge of the first down spot just before the end of the half helped RU to huddle, stopped the running clock and gave the Scarlet Knights just enough room for the field goal to make it. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis did a nice job getting Chris Carter ready to play. It was a good effort and a well called game. Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman's defense which had been solid against the run couldn't handle Rutgers power running game.
OVERALL GRADE: C
Rutgers is having a down season but they are still a Big-10 team with some talent. The offense has played much better the last two weeks but the defense was overmatched and special teams killed them.