Kent State: Army mule's finishing kick

Army men are trained to be masters of endurance and perseverance. After seeing what transpired in the home opener for the Black Knights' 2006 football season, it's clear that the Brave Old Army Team was worthy of its name and its West Point heritage.

The thing that grabs you about Army's 17-14 overtime win over Kent State on Saturday (besides the timely nature of the big plays Army made) is the fact that Army's two touchdown drives covered 69 and 83 yards (for a total of 152) on a day when Army's total offensive output netted just 275 yards. Think about that: 55 percent of Army's movement on offense came on two drives. This helps put Army's gallant effort into perspective.

Just consider what it must feel like as an offensive player, whether you're a quarterback or anyone else on that side of the ball: you're having very tough sledding in a game where you know points are at a premium for both teams. You know you won't be getting into the end zone at will, to be sure. You know opportunities to get seven points are few and far between--it's just that kind of a game.

This puts enormous pressure on an entire offense, because it knows that on the few occasions when it does threaten to score, it must get seven points. With that in mind, then, Army's offense performed bravely on Saturday, once again proving that statistics can paint a very deceiving picture, or at the very least, a picture that doesn't capture all the angles of a football battle.

David Pevoto and the rest of the Black Knights' offense might have failed to crack 300 yards, but they made the most of their two most effective drives. It's that maximization of opportunities, that ability to finish what was started, that enabled Army to take a lead, get into overtime, and win after a clutch turnover forced by the defense and a cash-money, ice-veins field goal by Austin Miller from 36 yards out. Had this team lacked a big-time finishing kick on its two big drives, the 14-6 final score from a week earlier against Arkansas State might have repeated itself.

So in one week's time, it's clear that Army's offense--while not tremendously more productive as an extension of yards--was profoundly more efficient in terms of finishing drives and, for the first time this season, ringing up seven points instead of merely three. This finishing kick made all the difference in a tight game where timing--as in every other part of life--is everything.

The 2006 Army football team learned how to finish against the Golden Flashes from the MAC on Saturday. Bobby Ross must now make sure his charges don't forget the football lesson they so joyfully applied in Michie Stadium this past weekend.


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