First Half Fairy Tale, Second Half Frog

After one half of football, it seemed as though the Army Black Knights would see their dreams come true. After two halves of football, a bunch of Frogs--horned ones--destroyed the fairy-tale visions of Bobby Ross and Company.

This is a sad day in West Point, following the Cadets' heartbreaking 21-17 loss, suffered in the last minute on a Lonta Hobbs two-yard touchdown run with 43 ticks left on the Michie Stadium clock.

It wasn't the grow-up game of Louisville.

It wasn't the "encouraging next step" game represented by the Houston loss.

It wasn't the embarrassing total wipeout against Connecticut... a game that, ironically, made Army a sharp and focused unit for much of the day against Texas Christian.

No, this game presented a unique way of losing... uniquely devastating, that is.

Few fans or national college football pundits will remember Delonte Brewer's sensational interception, achieved by reaching over and behind his head to snare the pigskin. Few will remember Will Sullivan's red zone interception, an even more amazing play than Brewer's pick because of Sullivan's incredible one-man tip drill.

Few will remember the big pass plays of more than 30 yards fashioned by Zac Dahman--in for Reggie Nevels--on four separate occasions.

Few will recall Army's total dominance in the trenches for the first 30 minutes.

Nope--when you have the longest losing streak in the nation, and haven't won at home in three years, it's the images of Hobbs running free to paydirt, of Dahman wilting under pressure, and of TCU transforming itself just in the nick of time to escape with the win against an Army team that tightened up and clearly became more passive as the lead progressively shrank.

The good news is that Army has lost in just about every way imaginable, meaning that these players won't encounter any level of adversity greater than what they've faced in their first four contests. Bobby Ross slammed his headset and paraded around the sideline on Saturday with a passion as great as anything he showed in his glory days as a national champion coach (Georgia Tech in 1990) or Super Bowl sage (San Diego Chargers in 1994). He was trying to impress upon his team the fact that they had to keep pushing to seal the deal, even when up by a bundle of points. The fact that Army couldn't close it out will, in the long run (think 2005), make this team that much more receptive to the football gospel according to Ross. Long-term, one might look back on this game as a program-defining moment in the sense that it might permanently instill a 60-minute mentality into West Point football.

But long-term visions are, on this day, for losers. Army gave it the ol' college try, but knowing how to win isn't something the Cadets have had practice doing over the years. Chalk this one up to a lack of experience, but while a lesson might be learned and filed away for the future, the present-tense feeling of dejection conjures up one sentiment beyond everything else: losing streaks stink.

Such a sweet smell for the first 30 minutes, and yet such a sad stench in the end--what other kind of odor would you expect from creatures such as Horned Frogs?

The tears should flow tonight, because losing has to hurt. But maybe Saturday's trail of tears will become a road to greatness when you look at this TCU game in the long run of history. Bobby Ross cared about this one--a LOT--and maybe that reality will make his Army players care about finishing wins in the future. That's about the only good thing you can take away from a crushing setback such as this one.


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