Although the players and coaches seem to have taken the 5th when it came to bowl conversation; there is no doubt that prior to kickoff on Saturday against Kent State and with their two remaining games scheduled against Notre Dame & Navy, this team has their sights on becoming bowl eligible.
Target number one
Who? Kent State
Where: At Dix Stadium (Kent, Ohio).
Why? Because they were Saturday's opponent. But don't get it wrong, this wasn't some roll over game
this was a Kent State team that came in with the top rushing defense in the nation. And it was an Army squad that would need to prove to themselves right out of the gate, that they had shaken off the ills of their lost to Air Force and were up to the task of getting back on track.
So right out of the gate it would be for both teams. Army was the recipient of the opening kickoff and it was clear that it would be strength (Black Knights rushing) versus strength (Kent State's rushing defense).
During the Black Knights' opening series, Kent State made it known which poison they were picking. There was an apparent focus on shutting down fullback Jared Hassan and although the 6-foot-3, 235 pound B-Back would be held under 100 yards for the first time in four games, he set the tone of the game as he ran right over the top of their Mike linebacker for a 12 yard touchdown. His scored gave Army an early 7-0, as the scored on their first series of the game.
With Hassin being somewhat neutralize throughout the contest, quarterback Trent Steelman played what offensive coordinator Ian Shields called his sophomore signal caller's best performance of the season.
"I feel that Trent's best game as an Army football player," says Shields as he took time after the contest to chat with GoBlackKnights.com. "He controlled the game, rushing game and passing game. Not many bad decisions, handled the option very well, pitched it well, and obviously he threw the ball well."
And it was Steelman's ability on Saturday to make quality triple option decisions that lead to a balance attack on the ground and in the air.
Hassin rushed for 75 yards, followed by Brian' Cobb's 64 and you can add Steelman, Patrick Mealy and Raymond Maples who galloped for 37, 32 and 26 yards respectively.
"It was a team effort," Shields says. "They don't care who gets the yards and the stats
it's meaningless. The only stat that matters is us winning at the end of the game. It's a we offense, not a me offense."
And although a "we" offense, Shields did not hesitate to acknowledge the performance of sophomore slotback, Brian Cobbs, who may be Army's only outside threat with Malcolm Brown still in the injury shelf.
"I think this is the best that he has played in a while and not just because of yards. I thought he ran hard
a little more angry so to speak," declared the Army OC. "He broke some tackles and made some hard yards today."
This may have been Army's best overall game of the season. Up until the midway point of the 3rd quarter, there was an established scoring trend to the ball game. For every two touchdowns Army scored, Kent State would respond with one of their own. As such, the Flash continued to play to the deficit of the score board, but to their credit they never gave up.
Only until Alex Carlton's 49 yard field goal with 5:38 remaining in the 4th quarter that was sandwiched in between two Richard King interceptions was the game finally ready for the record books, as Army pulled down a 45-28 victory.
• Today's win puts Army in a position it has not had the luxury of claiming since 1996 and that is going to a bowl game.
• First bowl since 1996.
• Cornerback Richard King who was back in the starting lineup had a busy afternoon. The junior corner made to game changing interceptions, as well as one pass break up.
• The Black Knights were able to compile 233 yards rushing t
• In addition to his rushing totals, you can add 149 yards passing to Steelman day as he hit on 9 of 10 pass attempts. His only incompletion when Steelman, who made solid decisions throughout the contest, threw the ball away.
• Army' had an impressive TOP of 38:02, which gave them a 16:44 edge over Kent State.
• On the day, the Black Knights had zero turnovers offensively.
• Freshman slotback Raymond Maples was back in the rotation. He's been banged up all season long - on his first carry against Hawaii he hurts his ankle and then breaks his hand against Rutgers. The only thing holding Raymond back has been some unfortunate injuries. The ability is there and he did some good things today. The staff is really excited about him and what his future will look like.
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