KnightCap: Temple

Army pulled out its second-straight, nail-biting home win, coming back from seven points down twice in the fourth quarter and finishing Temple 31-28 in overtime.

Thought it was going to be hard to top James Gibson’s game-saving tackle on a two-point conversion against Eastern Michigan last week.

This time, the heroes included sophomore quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, who was called upon with 1:31 left in the game and Army trailing 28-21. Hopkins finished a 14-play, 79-yard drive with his fifth completion, a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jermaine Adams with one second remaining.

But, thanks to

By coming back from seven points down twice in the fourth quarter and pulling out a win in overtime the next week

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POSTGAME VIDEO (Temple): Adams, Aukerman, Bradshaw, Hopkins, Nachtigal, Woolfolk

Senior wide receiver Jermaine Adams said his 16-yard catch with one second left was the biggest touchdown of his life.

Sophomore Kelvin Hopkins said his throw to Adams was the biggest touchdown pass of his life. Adams and Hopkins teamed up to create some Michie Stadium magic. Their heroics helped Army force overtime and won on Blake Wilson’s 29-yard field goal.

Adams, Hopkins, senior linebacker Alex Aukerman, senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, junior linebacker James Nachtigal and senior fullback Darnell Woolfolk met the media after the 31-28 victory over Temple, which made Army bowl-eligible for the second straight season.

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Pregame blog: Temple

Without hesitation, Josh Boylan slid over from left guard to center during Army’s fourth-quarter drive against Eastern Michigan last week.

Bryce Holland, Army’s starting center, lost his helmet and had to sit out the required one play. Boylan’s snap on the drive’s 14th play was perfect. Holland returned on the next play and Boylan moved back to left guard.

“He just moved right on over and snapped the ball and nobody knew the difference,” Army coach Jeff Monken said.

Boylan recorded 12 knockdown blocks during the Eastern  Michigan game and was named Army’s offensive player of the week. He’s the only Army player to receive a Ranger jersey for extraordinary effort in all seven games this season.

“It (the Ranger jersey) means an awful lot to me,” Boylan said. “Being part of the Ranger club was something that I set as a goal as a plebe. It’s not about a plaque or anything like that. Earning a Ranger jersey is what the Army team is all about giving maximum effort. We know we are not going to be the biggest or the strongest but you control your effort and how hard you are going to play. Every week, I try to give maximum effort because at the end of the day, I don’t want to let down Bryce, (Brett) Toth, (Rick) Kurz or Mike (Houghton).”

Houghton, Kurz and Toth were banged up last week. If Kurz or Toth can’t play against Temple today, Boylan may have to slid over to tackle.

“He’s really, really valuable to our team and our locker room,” Monken said. “He’s a good leader. He’s such a tough kid.”

Freshmen dress list (32): S Justin Thomas; QB Christian Anderson; LB Markus Wright; CB Joe King; SB T.J. Wisham; S Ke’Shaun Wells; CB Javhari Boudreau; SB Zack Boobas; SB Dominic Distefano; SB Artice Hobbs; FB Sandon McCoy; LB Aaron Jones; SB Luke Haug (walk-on); LB Gavin Bassett; LS Caleb McKee; TE Geoff Kirk; LB Jon Rhattigan; LS Kyle O’Connor; LB JB Hunter; OL Ryan O’Malley; DL Ted Wages; DL Trevor Hallock; DL Tyler Fleagle; OL Nick Stokes; C Peyton Reeder; DL Edriece Patterson; DL Jack Hough; WR Camden Harrison; K Sean McNulty; DL Emmanuel Ukhugligbe; LB Josh Thomas; DL Connor Smith

VIDEO: LB Cole Christiansen on Temple challenge

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Prediction time: Temple

Army is a 6.5-point home favorite over Temple Saturday at Michie Stadium.

The Black Knights are 4-0 at home, winning three games over FBS opponents (Buffalo, UTEP and Eastern Michigan) by a combined 19 points.

Army would clinch a postseason bowl game for the second straight season with a win. That’s only happened once in academy history (1984-85).

Temple’s three wins have come against teams with a combined 4-15 record which includes Villanova’s three FCS wins. The Owls have lost to two teams currently ranked – Notre Dame (No. 13, 49-16) and South Florida (No. 16, 43-7).

Temple fell to UConn, which gave up 70 points in its previous game, 28-24 last week.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 28, Temple 24. Expect this game to come down to the fourth quarter like last week’s 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan. The defense will have to force a turnover or two for Army to win this game comfortably.
Josh Conklin (Times Herald-Record photographer): Army 24, Temple 17

Predictions from the across the college football universe
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Army 27, Temple 24
Kerry Miller (Bleacher Report): Army 52, Temple 35
The Power Rank: Army has 60 percent chance of winning.
Athlon Sports: All three writers pick Army.


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Defense breakdown: Eastern Michigan

Six Army starters – linebackers Alex Aukerman and Kenneth Brinson, cornerbacks Jaylon McClinton and Mike Reynolds and safeties James Gibson and Max Regan – played all 53 snaps in a 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan.

The Black Knights used only four reserves. Freshman Justin Thomas played a career-high 31 snaps as a nickelback.

Junior linebacker James Nachtigal led Army in tackles (13) for the fourth straight game.

Has to be the first game that I can remember in Jeff Monken era where the defense did not record a tackle for loss. Double-checked. It is.

Army allowed a 100-yard rusher (Ian Eriksen, 107 yards) for the fourth time this season. The Black Knights gave up a season-high four touchdown passes.

Eastern Michigan snapped the ball with 22 seconds or more left on the 40-second game clock at least eight times.

Turnovers created: 1. Interception (Cole Christiansen, second quarter)

Third-down defense: Eastern Michigan converted 3-of-7 chances.

Defensive penalties: 2. (Jaylon McClinton, offside; James Gibson, pass interference)

Eastern Michigan 3-and-outs: 1

Eastern Michigan average starting field position: Eastern Michigan 27.

Eastern Michigan plays of 20 yards or more: 3. Rushing (Ian Eriksen, 23 yards); Receiving (Antoine Porter 45 yards, TD, Sergio Bailey 23 yards).

Here’s a breakdown: (53 defensive snaps as charted off DVR):

*LB Alex Aukerman (53 snaps): 2 tackles, 27th career start
*LB Kenneth Brinson (53 snaps): 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 26th career start
*S James Gibson (53 snaps): 2 tackles, 10th career start
*CB Jaylon McClinton (53 snaps): 8 tackles, 10th career start
*S Max Regan (53 snaps): 3 tackles, 4th career start
*CB Mike Reynolds (53 snaps): 1 tackle, 1 pass breakup, 6th career start
*DE John Voit (52 snaps): 32nd career start
*LB James Nachtigal (48 snaps): Career-high 13 tackles, 4th career start
*NT Ray Wright (45 snaps): 2 tackles, 3rd career start
*LB Cole Christiansen (33 plays): 5 tackles, 1 interception, 7th career start
#S Justin Thomas (31 snaps): 1 tackle
LB Scott Washle (25 snaps): 5 tackles
*DT Prince Oyetuga (23 snaps): 1 tackle, 6th career start
NT Rod Stoddard (7 snaps): 1 tackle
LB Chandler Ramirez (2 snaps):
* – starter # freshman

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Offense breakdown: Eastern Michigan

Offensive linemen Josh Boylan, Mike Houghton, Rick Kurz and Brett Toth played all 65 offensive snaps (not counting fake punt) in Army’s 28-27 victory over Eastern Michigan Saturday.

Center Bryce Holland missed one snap when his helmet came off on the 14th play of Army’s fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Junior fullback Calen Holt made his first career start.

For the third time this season, Army did not complete a pass. The Black Knights are 2-1 when they don’t complete a pass. Army has eight completions in seven games.

Army ran 19 of its 65 plays (29.2 percent) from the shotgun.

The Black Knights ran 40 times up the middle for 179 yards, 12 times to the left for 131 yards and nine times to the right for 103 yards.

Milestones: Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw became the 12th player in academy history to rush for 2,000 yards. Bradshaw is now 11th all-time with 2,116 yards. He scored his 20th career rushing touchdown, tying Clarence Jones for 14th place.

Rushing yards by quarter: First quarter – 88 yards; Second quarter – 113; Third quarter – 130; Fourth quarter – 82.

Possessions - 8. Touchdowns – 4. Turnovers- 0. Punts – 1. Three-and-outs – 0. Drives of seven of more plays – 5. Longest drive – 16 plays, 83 yards, 8 minutes, 59 seconds, fourth quarter, touchdown (Darnell Woolfolk 13-yard run).

Third-down conversions: 9-of-13. Fourth-down conversions: 1-for-3.

Time of possession: Game – Army 37 minutes, 2 seconds; Eastern Michigan 22 minutes, 58 seconds.

Average starting field position: Army 25


Ahmad Bradshaw, 9 yards, first quarter (7th of season, 20th career)
Kell Walker, 17 yards, second quarter (4th of season, 6th career)
Connor Slomka, 2 yards, third quarter (4th of season, 4th career)
Darnell Woolfolk, 13 yards, fourth quarter (5th of season, 14th career)

20+ yard plays: 3. Kell Walker (26 yards, run, 26 yards, run); Ahmad Bradshaw (69 yards, run)

Negative-yardage plays: 5. (Kell Walker, 5 yards, 1 yard; Ahmad Bradshaw, 2 yards, 1 yard, 1 yard).

Triple-option distribution:  Quarterback (Ahmad Bradshaw) 19 carries, 171 yards, TD;  Fullbacks (Darnell Woolfolk, Andy Davidson, Calen Holt, Connor Slomka) 25 carries, 125 yards, 2 TDs; Slotbacks (Kell Walker, John Trainor) 16 carries, 118 yards, TD.

Penalties: 1 (John Trainor, false start)

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (65 plays as charted off DVR, note pass on fake punt not included):

*LG Josh Boylan (65 snaps): 8th career start
*RG Mike Houghton (65 snaps): 24th career start
*LT Rick Kurz (65 snaps): 24th career start
*RT Brett Toth (65 snaps): 22nd career start
*QB Ahmad Bradshaw (64 snaps): 19 carries, 171 yards (9th 100-yard game), 1 TD (20th career), 0-for-3 passing, 26th career start
*C Bryce Holland (64 snaps): 22nd career start
*SB Kell Walker (59 snaps): 14 carries, 115 yards (2nd 100-yard game), 1 TD, 10th career start
*SB John Trainor (45 snaps): 2 carries, 3 yards, 16th career start
*WR Jeff Ejekam (36 snaps): 11th career start
*WR Jermaine Adams (34 snaps): 10th career start
TE Quentin Parker (26 snaps)
FB Andy Davidson (24 snaps): 7 carries, 37 yards
SB Jordan Asberry (21 snaps):
*FB Calen Holt (17 snaps): 1 carry, 3 yards, 1st career start
WR Kjetil Cline (14 snaps)
FB Connor Slomka (14 snaps): 8 carries, 34 yards, TD
#WR Cam Harrison (12 snaps)
FB Darnell Woolfolk (10 snaps): 9 carries, 51 yards, TD
#SB Fred Cooper (5 snaps)
TE Zach Saum (4 snaps)
LG Jaxson Deaton (1 snap)
QB Kelvin Hopkins (1 snap): 0-for-1 passing

* – starter # – freshman

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Tuesday takeaways: High grade for Nachtigal

Army linebacker James Nachtigal was named to the Pro Football Focus College Football national team of the week.

Nachtigal received a 91.6 grade, the second-highest among FBS linebackers, from the analytical website following a career-high 13 tackles in a 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan Saturday.

The junior joined Kansas State’s Trent Tanking (92.4) and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans as linebackers on the national team.

Nachtigal has led Army in tackles the last four games and has emerged as the defense’s biggest hitter.

Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman said Nachtigal is living up to his nickname, “Jimmy Hammersticks.”

“He’s a tough guy,” Bateman said. “He’s a physically, tough guy. He brings a presence to him.”

Will have more on Nachtigal later in the week.

Army coach Jeff Monken said the 28-13 2016 season-opening victory over Temple, “was an important win for last year’s team…for what is does for this season, nothing. It’s a different team. We are a different team and we are going to have to prepare this team to play this year’s Temple team and Temple is again very talented and very physical and very well coached.”

Monken said nose tackle Andrew McLean, who injured his knee against Rice on Oct. 7, is out for the season for an torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Senior safety Rhyan England will miss his fifth straight game with a knee injury. But, Monken hopes to have England back for the first leg of the Commander in Chief’s trophy at Air Force on Nov. 4.  England joined the team on the practice field Tuesday but did not participate in any drills.

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Quick thoughts: Eastern Michigan

Army’s 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan featured one of the wildest finishes at Michie Stadium in recent years.

The Black Knights’ defense and most of their sideline thought Mike Reynolds’ deflection of a two-point pass clinched the victory. But, officials said Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton called a timeout before the snap. Josh Conklin, our photographer who was field side, said that Creighton did indeed get the timeout called.

That set the stage for Army junior safety James Gibson to make the game-saving tackle on a pitch play to Eastern Michigan’s Ian Eriksen.

Jeff Monken said Eastern Michigan’s call was similar to the speed option play that Army runs. Ahmad Bradshaw pointed out that Gibson practiced against the play often at Army practice.

Credit should be given to junior linebacker Kenneth Brinson, as one Army fan pointed out to me. Brinson forced Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback to pitch the ball to Eriksen.

The victory was Army’s first one-point win since beating Navy 14-13 on Dec. 2, 1995 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and Army’s first one-point win at Michie Stadium since it edged The Citadel 25-24 on Oct. 22, 1994.

Some were surprised that senior defensive end John Voit was on the hands team for Eastern Michigan’s onside kick following the failed two-point try. Voit caught kick on high, difficult bounce to seal the win. Monken said Voit has been on the hands team since his freshman season.

“He’s one of our best athletes,” Monken said. “He’s very reliable. When we throw or toss the ball to him in practice, he catches everything.”

Ahmad Bradshaw, Kelvin Hopkins and punter Zach Potter were a combined 0-for-5 passing. Army is now 2-1 when it does not complete a pass this season. The Black Knights opened the season with win over Fordham without a completion.

The closest Army came to completing a pass Saturday was on a fake punt on 4th-and-12 from Eastern Michigan’s 43. Potter threw a perfect pass to freshman safety Justin Thomas, who dropped the ball at EMU’s 25.

“His eyes were here (pointing toward the end zone) and he was getting ready to score,” Monken said after the game. “I told him to catch it and fall down.”

Bradshaw surpassed 2,000 rushing yard, scored his 20th career touchdown and recorded his ninth 100-yard (171) game. Bradshaw’s 2,116 yards are 11th on the academy all-time list. Michael Wallace (2,275 yards, 1998-2000) is 10th. Bradshaw’s 20 touchdowns are tied for 14th with Clarence Jones (1984-86).

Junior fullback Darnell Woolfolk, who returned to action after missing three games following minor knee surgery, credited senior tackle Brett Toth for a block on the playside linebacker on his tie-breaking touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Bradshaw followed a pulling Toth into the end zone on his 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Army improved to 2-0 this season when it does not turn the ball over.

Junior linebacker James Nachtigal led Army in tackles for the fourth straight game, making a career-high 13 stops.

Senior kicker Blake Wilson has 19 straight kicks (18 extra points and one field goal) with Potter as his holder.

Nick Schrage’s three touchbacks gave the junior 14 for the season. Army kickers totaled 14 touchbacks last season. Schrage placed his final kickoff perfect just inside the left pylon.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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KnightCap: Eastern Michigan

Threw out the thought of overtime in the press box as Eastern Michigan drove down seven points late in the fourth quarter.

When Brogan Roback threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day – an 8-yard pass to Sergio Bailey – with 49 seconds, bonus football was a distinct possibility.

Then, Chris Creighton decided against an extra point, keeping  his offense on the field for a tw0-point conversion to take the lead. Two timeouts and two plays later, Army celebrated a 28-27 thanks to a textbook tackle by safety James Gibson.

Here’s my video recap of the Black Knights’ fifth win:

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VIDEO: Postgame (Eastern Michigan) Bradshaw, Christiansen, Gibson, Walker, Woolfolk

Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, sophomore linebacker Cole Christiansen, junior safety James Gibson, sophomore slotback Kell Walker and junior fullback Darnell Woolfolk discuss Army’s 28-27 win over Eastern Michigan.

Bradshaw rushed for 171 yards, his ninth career 100-yard game, scored his 20th career rushing touchdown and became the 12th Army player to gain 2,000 or more yards on ground.

Christiansen had six tackles and picked off his first career pass.

Gibson made a game-saving tackle on a two-point conversion with 49 seconds left.

Walker recorded his second straight 100-yard game.

Woolfolk returned to action after missing three games with a knee injury and broke a 21-21 tie with a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

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    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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