September 5, 2010

Army pulls off come from behind win

With 2:25 remaining in the 4th quarter and starting from their own 25 yard line, Army put on a classic come from behind march to pull out the season's opener over Eastern Michigan on Saturday at Rynerson Stadium � 31-27 was the final.

It started with Trent Steelman's 42 yard pass to sophomore receiver George Jordan, but included a mixture of big gains from Malcolm Brown (11 yard rumble), fellow sophomore slot back Brian Cobbs (33 yard run), an improvised play after Steelman recovered his own fumble behind the line of scrimmage and took off for 7 yards which yielded the ball on EMU's 25 yard line with 1:51 remaining on the clock.

After a series of plays, the biggest of which was Steelman's quarterback draw that brought the ball to the 7yard line. From there sophomore fullback Jared Hassin who was making his college debut, bulled his way into the end zone, while carrying an EMU linebacker on his back and leaving only .44 on the game clock.

To Eastern Michigan's credit, they did not give until the final gun and although the Black Knights came away victorious, there are some unanswered questions that remain � many of which will need to be answered by the time Hawaii arrives at Michie Stadium on Saturday.

But before the final bell rung and the Black Knights' amazing final drive, Army fans were wondering what happen to the "D" that was 16th in the nation in total defense in 2009 with 8 returning starters , albeit one vital piece was missing in junior linebacker Andrew Rodriguez.

Throughout the contest, the Eagles of EMU rode the wave offensive of running back Dwayne Priest who had a career high 142 yards on an impressive 5.5 yard per carry, coupled with the feet of quarterback Alex Gillett who registered 126 yards on the ground (7.0 avg.).

So effective was EMU's ground game that saw them consistently cut through the Army defense for 285 total yards on the ground, that Gillett attempted only nine passes throughout the evening.

Needless to say, the Army staff was not happy with yesterday's performance and know that the "D" can play better, but there is some work that needs to be done � sooner than later.

Had troubles early on first series and never really got back into the game. We had some fundamental things that we were doing right and exasperated itself as things went on," shares co-defensive coordinator Payam Saadat, who also had to adjust to the lost of linebacker Nate Combs to a knee injury on the first series, as well as junior backer, Steve Erzinger to a concussion. Not to mention the fact that starting cornerback Antuan Aaron is not 100% and only took in a few snaps.

Overall, Saadat was not please with his unit's performance and realizes that there is little rest for the weary when it comes to preparing for the home opener.

"We played nowhere near our capabilities," shares Saadat, who sounds more like a coach on the losing side of the table � clearly knowing that the talent the staff put on the field did not meet expectation.

"We just did not play to our capabilities � for whatever reasons and that is not expectable. We are going to be facing an outfit (Hawaii) that not going to be any easier. We have to regroup ourselves, watch this tape, critique it very hard and play like are capable of."

As off track as the defense's performance, credit must be extended to an offense that overall showed both promise and perseverance.

Leading the charge right out of the box was senior slot back Patrick Mealy who was consistently consistent all evening long. Mealy finished the day with 81 yards, but received help from a trio of sophomores Brown, Hassin and Cobbs, who logged in 68, 68 and 68 yards respectively.

Hassin also rushed for three touchdowns, after showing some early game jitters on an early fumble. Brown showed glimpses of things to comes, as he ran with much more passion in this game than he had showed during his freshman campaign.

At receiver, George Jordan also showed the fans that he is a reliable receiver and could become a favorite of Steelman as the season progresses.

But as we stated during summer camp � if the offense is going to be productive, it must start up front. And on Saturday, the guys up front were effective from the beginning whistle until the final drive that lead to Army's comeback win.

The offense will need enjoy their brief moment of celebration, pack it away for end of season conversations of reflection and now get prepared to take on a Hawaii team that is looking to get on the winning side of things after their lost to the Trojans of USC.

Defensively, and as Coach Saadat stated, they will be in major evaluation and preparation mode because Hawaii's offense can be high powered if you aren't ready.

But at least for the moment, the Black Knights can say they are 1-0 and trust me, that's better than playing great but starting the season off 0-1.

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