Product 19: A New Day for the Brave Old Army Team

How fitting it is that a 19-game losing streak went down by 19 points on Saturday in West Point. An increasingly large burden was swatted away with noticeable authority, as the Black Knights of the Hudson did something they hadn't done anywhere in two years, and at Michie Stadium in three: win a football game.

It was a long time in the making, but after the grow-up losses of September and then the pure heartsickness of TCU a week earlier, this conquest--a 48-29 declawing of the Bearcats of Cincinnati--made all those learning experiences worth it. Feeling the powerlessness of getting blown out, then experiencing the pain of letting a game slip away, served to educate the Cadets on this Autumnal Saturday. The things that had eluded Bobby Ross' team in previous weeks all came together on Saturday.

This time, Army sustained its level of offensive performance beyond the first quarter. An early burst of 26 points was hardly the full measure of the Cadets' offensive output, as the Black Knights tallied 48 before the day was done.

This time, Army had more than enough left in the tank in the fourth quarter. Instead of faltering as in the games against Houston and TCU, the Cadets got stronger as the game progressed, following up a potent first half with an even more decisive second half.

This time, Army made a strong statement coming out of the locker room in the third quarter. The Cadets probably had a much more substantial breakfast in reality, but for the sake of thematic consistency, Bobby Ross must have served his boys some Product 19 cereal and some bagels with cream cheese, because Army broke its 19-game schnide with a 19-point win on the strength of an awesome second-half effort from its defense that creamed the Bearcats, bageling Cincinnati on the scoreboard after allowing 29 first-half points.

At halftime, it was hard to look at the ebb and flow of this game and think that Army was going to pull off the mighty deed. Seeing a 19-point lead whittled down to three evoked all too many memories of the TCU contest, but that 17-point lead was blown in less than 25 minutes. Saturday, Gino Guidugli and the Bearcat offense had wiped away most of Army's lead before the halftime gun. After 61 total first-half points, it didn't seem likely that the Cadets would stabilize on defense the way they did. Bobby Ross' team didn't look like a group that was going to be able to re-gather itself emotionally. This Army squad didn't show any special indications that this game was going to be different from the previous 19.

But the Brave Old Army Team did something new: it persevered.

Tielor Robinson kept the touchdowns coming, adding his fifth score on a 93-yard play that sealed the win and revealed a newfound killer instinct from a team that finally learned how to close the deal.

A team plagued so thoroughly by turnovers in 2003 used turnovers to its advantage on this occasion, as Doug Meyer forced a fumble that Jonathan Lewis recovered in the end zone to pad Army's lead and give the Black Knights some much-needed breathing room in the second half.

A defense that would falter so consistently in the second half instead became the kind of military fortress an Army defense is supposed to be.

All in all, the pushing and prodding and preaching from Bobby Ross paid off handsomely. A message got through, a game was won, a streak was put to bed, and a breakfast of Product 19 and bagels tasted oh-so-sweet for all supporters of West Point Football.

This time, Army didn't step off the gas pedal; didn't display a flagging level of endurance or stamina; didn't wilt when an opponent threw and landed a haymaker. Top Stories