Army’s offense had a huge bounce-back game following a zero-touchdown performance against Wake Forest. And, it started up front. Center Ryan Powis, who had a tough go against Wake Forest nose tackle Nikita Whitlock, played his best game of the season. Powis set the tone for the offensive line. He was quick off the snap and made some solid blocks at the second level.
Powis and quarterback Angel Santiago also worked together on a quick snap, which drew Louisiana Tech offside on a 4th-and-1 from Louisiana Tech 40 early in the fourth quarter. The penalty kept alive Army’s final scoring drive.
Saturday’s game was triple-option football at its finest. The ball was distributed well. Four players – Terry Baggett, Larry Dixon, Trenton Turretine and Santiago – rushed for 70 yards or more for the second time in Rich Ellerson’s five years (Sept. 22, 2012 – Raymond Maples, Dixon, Trent Steelman and Malcolm Brown). All four players carried the ball between 12 and 19 times. Running backs Lawrence Scott (3 carries, 24 yards) and Aaron Kemper (first career touchdown, good blocking) also contributed.
Army coaches were right when healthy Terry Baggett is a special running back. Baggett rushed for a career high (143 yards) for the second straight game. Lost track of the number of tackles Baggett broke. Baggett gives second, third and fourth efforts on runs and he doesn’t run away from contact. He also delivered some crushing blocks on the edge, one which sent him to the sideline for a few plays.
Army’s victory was a testament to the team’s depth. The Black Knights won for the first time on the road since Dec. 30, 2010 (Armed Forces Bowl, 14 games) without Raymond Maples, a two-time, 1,000-yard rusher, safety Geoff Bacon, a three-year starter, and linebacker Alex Meier and defensive end Joe Drummond, opening-day starters. They also lost starting cornerbacker Josh Jenkins for the final 22 minutes after an ejection for targeting.
As for the targeting call on Jenkins, first off, the hit on Louisiana Tech receiver Andrew Guillot was shoulder-to-shoulder. Most including myself thought the ejection should have been overturned by replay but that was not the case. From my understanding, Army cannot appeal Jenkins’ first-half suspension against Boston College this week.
Second, Jenkins’ hit brings up the confusion of the NCAA’s new ejection rules. If Jenkins’ ejection was overturned by replay (which is subjective just like the call of the field), Jenkins would have been allowed to stay in the game but the 15-yard penalty would stand. Shouldn’t the flag also be picked up? Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson’s ejection was overturned against Ole Miss and Jackson’s hit was from his shoulder to side of tight end Evan Engram’s head.
What can you say about junior defensive end Colin Linkul? Linkul, Army’s third-down pass-rushing specialist as a freshman and sophomore, was reduced to special teams play the previous three games. On Saturday, Linkul became the first Army player in my seven years on the beat to record sacks on back-to-back plays. It was the first time in 11 games that an Army player had two or more sacks (Nate Combs, Boston College, 2012) in a game. He also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
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