I’ll get to the penalties, fumbles and onside kick.
But, first, a stone-cold fact. Army has not scored a point in the second half the past two games.
Army’s second half against Wake Forest started with the Black Knights using a timeout before they ran a play. Army fans have seen that before. That timeout could have come in handy at the end of the game when Army got the ball back with two seconds left and 69 yards to go.
No matter who is coaching and who lines up for Army, the Black Knights haven’t been a good road team. This is my eighth year covering the team. Army has won nine games away from Michie Stadium in those eight years. Four of those wins came in 2010, the Black Knights’ bowl year. Teams with bowl aspirations figure out a way the win game like Saturday’s at Wake Forest.
At the beginning of season, fans probably would have signed up for a 2-2 September. Army plays at Yale this Saturday. A game, it should win even if Yale scored 54 points against Lehigh in its opener Saturday. But, Army should be playing to equal its 2013 win total against Yale. The Wake Forest loss could be a game that costs Army a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl. The Black Knights need to win at least four of its next six games to stay on pace for bowl eligibility (six wins).
Now for the big penalty, center Matt Hugenberg and guard Stefan Moreau appeared to double team Wake Forest nose tackle Tylor Harris. The block was away from the play and is a 50-50 call that some crew will call immediately and others let go. The 15-yard penalty erased a scramble to the right by quarterback Angel Santiago on 3rd-and-5 and backed the ball to Army’s 41, where Santiago fumbled on the next snap. Wake Forest took over with 21-17 lead and 2:47 left.
Santiago was trying to make something happen on the 3rd-and-20 but he’s got to protect the football. Army had two timeouts left and punter Alex Tardieu had done a good job of pinning Wake Forest inside its 20-yard line.
Army’s first lost fumble looked like a good pitch from Santiago to running back Joe Walker. Don’t know if Walker took his eyes off the ball or not. But the ball just didn’t seem to find Walker’s hands on the pitch or the recovery. If Walker falls on the ball, at the least, Army sets up for about a 42-yard field goal by Dan Grochowski.
Speaking of field goals, Army attempted its first of the season at the end of the first half. A low snap seemed threw off Grochowski’s rhythm and the 40-yard kick went wide left. Another lost opportunity for points.
Some Army fans were probably puzzled by the Black Knights’ onside kick following their first touchdown. Coach Jeff Monken is always looking for an edge in the kicking game and he had scouted Wake Forest for that play. At the postseason press conference, Monken expressed disappointment in Army’s failure to recover the kick. From my view, Joey Giovannelli sled and tried his best to bring the ball in.
In Army’s first three games, I’m not sure I’ve seen the Black Knights boot the ball the same way on consecutive kickoffs. There’s been some shorter kicks and squibs. I expect coach Monken that pattern.
Joe Walker’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Moss off a sweep play surprised Wake Fores and was a wrinkle that I can see Army go back to in the future. When’s the last time an Army RB threw a touchdown pass? Click here.
Army’s defense had its good moments for the second straight game. But just fell a play or two short.
It looked like defensive coordinator Jay Bateman called the right blitzes in the second quarter to pressure Wake Forest freshman John Wilford. In the second half, the blitzer was less than a second off from hitting Wilford on a few occasions.
Sophomore linebacker Jeremy Timpf continued his strong play. He’s led Army in tackles in each of the first three games. Timpf was in the right place at the right time on his first career interception on a tipped ball.
Thought senior defensive end Mike Ugenyi could have been done for the game after being injured in second quarter. Ugenyi played hard in the second half. He tipped a third-down pass, which forced Wake Forest to punt on its opening drive of the second half. Ugenyi has three tackles in the second half. Wake Forest has 0 net yards on those plays.
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