October 7, 2012

Army's Last Defensive Stand Opens Door To Win

I've been waiting a long time to say this, but in the wise words of former GBK staff writer Adam "Lou" Peltier, I just want to say: Army Football is back baby! Army fans can now breathe a heavy sigh of relief as the immense pressure on the team lifted after an incredible come-back win over a heavily favored Boston College 34-31. Army football enthusiast, Major Pete Exline commented after the game: "It's incredible how an Army football win can drastically improve the mood and release the tension on campus."

With a record of 0-4 this season and hungry for a win, the Black Knights quickly ended Boston College's first offensive drive with a vicious Nate Combs hit on Eagles' receiver Bobby Swigert as soon as his hands touched the ball. The cadets roared in approval and responded even louder to the replay on the big screen. The crowd's intensity was consistent throughout the game.

Michie Stadium was rocking with a crowd of 39,492 (max capacity: 38,000) in attendance: the most since 2004 when Army played Air Force. Defensive end Nate Combs Kyle Maxwell commented on the atmosphere surrounding the game: "Last week against Stoney Brook, the team showed little emotion and the fans weren't into it. Today, the players and the fans bought into a must-win game against Boston College and today's game was probably the loudest I've ever played in."

Army drew first blood by scoring the first touchdown on their opening drive and in Army's second defensive series, it looked identical to their first successful stop when sophomore linebacker Geoffrey Bacon ripped into the intended receiver as soon as his hands touched the ball, sending both the player and the ball hurdling through the air. Nate Combs Bobby Kough immediately followed that with a sack for a seven yard loss. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig however soon found his rhythm and connected on multiple plays to drive the ball to the red zone. Looking to his left, Rettig tossed one to the far corner of the end zone and freshman Chris Carnegie snatched it for an interception, but Army was called for a defensive off sides. Soon after, BC responded with a touchdown, tying the game at 7-7.

When the Black Knights' defense took to the field again, they swarmed Rettig at all angles, deflected passes and BC never had a chance to convert on a first down. The stadium grew even louder at this point and even the Army coaches were getting into it, jumping up to high five their players.

After another touchdown from quarterback Trent Steelman to end the first quarter, Boston College set up from their own one yard line to begin what seemed like a long drive for them. Here was their drive summary: one play, 99 yards, 15 seconds elapsed. That's running back Andre Williams barreling through, breaking three tackles and angling his way to the end zone in 15 seconds, tying the game once again, now 14-14. The misfortunes continued to roll, and Army just had to be the opponent that witnessed the longest rushing touchdown in BC history.

The Eagles flipped a switch in the second quarter and poured in seventeen points. After a disheartening 99 yard run, Army defense responded, holding BC to a field goal, fueled by two Combs sacks. The defense came back on quickly after a failed Army offensive possession and late in the second quarter, free safety Ty Shrader left the game with a hamstring injury. Boston College QB Rettig found his rhythm through the air and finished the drive with a 20 yard touchdown pass to Alex Amidon, putting the Eagles up 24-14. Rettig finished the day with 16-29 passing with 234 passing yards.

With a few minutes remaining in the first half, the defense wanted to send the offense out for a last second drive for a score. Defensive tackle Rich Glover, along with Combs contributed sacks in a quick three and out, which allowed Army to gain possession and kick a field goal to head into the locker room down 24-17.

In the second half, the Army defense looked like a completely different unit, and would only allowed seven points for the balance of the contest. In the 3rd quarter, their pressure on the quarterback continued, as Kough logged in one of fives sacks on the day.

The most crucial point in the game was when Boston College began their drive with 2:03 remaining in the game after Army failed to convert on a 4th & goal from the 1 yard line, which would have put them ahead 34-31.

Now, with the Black Knights' defense out on the field with 2 minutes to play in the game, the loyal Army fans stayed put while many left their seats to avoid game-day traffic. Even though it was a huge loss on their part, I jokingly say that they should be forever banned from watching another game. Boston College Andre Williams rushed three times up the middle and was met once by Bacon and twice by Thomas Holloway for quick three and out, allowing Steelman to have one last crack at the end zone. At this point, the stadium's noise level was at its peak with arguably Army's greatest fan of all time, Colonel Ragsdale, leading the Corps of Cadets to cheer on their classmates to dig deep and make a big play. Steelman delivered.

Notable: Free Safety Thomas Holloway took the place of the injured Shrader and a solid performance, leading the team with 9 tackles, including having his presence felt on the most crucial defensive series.

Also on the defensive side, starting defensive back Hayden Pierce went down with a shoulder injury.

Certainly this victory took a lot out of the players: "I don't know if my head hurts more from playing or screaming" - Kyle Maxwell.


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