Quick thoughts: Fordham (Updated)

Army fans are going to miss senior fullback Larry Dixon.

Dixon’s performance against Fordham Saturday was a reminder.

Fordham started the game taking away the fullback dive and it worked. Dixon’s first carry for a 1-yard gain came with 2:29 left in the second quarter. Two plays later, Dixon rushed for two yards.

After halftime, Army’s offense came out to a faster pace and Dixon was the focal point. He carried the ball five straight times for 51 yards to start the second half. Dixon finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown. He had 20 of Army’s 45 carries in the second half and totaled 155 yards.

Dixon’s numbers currently stand at 3,098 yards for his career and 1,012 for the season. He is the 14th player in Army history to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season. He needs 223 yards in Army’s season finale against Navy on Dec. 13 to pass Trent Steelman for third on Army’s all-time rushing list. Dixon has 159 rushing yards in three career games vs. Navy.

Where does Dixon rank among the academy’s all-time fullbacks? Dixon, who has the most rushing yards of any Army fullback, is in the conversation. That conversation begins with 1945 Heisman Trophy winner Felix “Doc” Blanchard.

Back to the halftime adjustments, Army scored a touchdown on its opening drive of the second half for just the second time in 11 games this season. Army opened the third quarter with a 12-play, 79-yard touchdown drive against UConn in a 35-21 win on Nov. 8.

Didn’t get the impression from talking to coach Jeff Monken earlier in the week that junior quarterback A.J. Schurr was in the game plan for Fordham. But with Army’s offense struggling to move the ball early, quarterbacks coach Mitch Ware suggested bringing in Schurr to Monken with 11:31 left in the second quarter.

Schurr sparked the offense with a career-high 54-yard run on his third play of the game. Unfortunately, Schurr dislocated his right collarbone when he landed on the turf on that play. His collarbone was popped back into place. Schurr started the second half  and helped Army to a touchdown on its opening drive. But, Schurr couldn’t complete Army’s next drive of 20 plays due to right ankle injury.

Army’s 20-play, 84-yard touchdown drive, which ate up 11:11 between the third and fourth quarters, wasn’t the longest possession that coach Monken has been involved in. Monken was a part of Navy’s 2004 staff, which watched its offense embark on a 26-play drive against New Mexico in the Emerald Bowl. The Midshipmen settled for a field goal on the drive, which lasted 14 minutes and 26 seconds.

Bryce Holland impressed in his first career start at right guard. Holland, a freshman who was recruited as a center, blew defenders  off the line of scrimmage. Larry Dixon ran the ball effectively behind Holland often Saturday. Expect Holland to be in the starting lineup for Navy and the future.

UPDATE: Junior fullback Matt Giachinta suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff of the second half. Giachinta might be able to play against  Navy.

Thought Army’s defense played well in the first half. The Black Knights held Fordham wide receiver Sam Ajala to four catches for 21 yards. Tebucky Jones, Jr. did not have a catch at halftime. Army played five defensive backs a lot with sophomore Tevin Long as the nickelback. The defense was leaving Fordham’s Brian Wetzel open or not covering him well in the first half. Could see Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich was eyeing up Wetzel, who caught eight of Fordham’s 18 first-half completions, from the press box.

Army’s defensive line was the most active I can remember this season on plays beyond or down the line of scrimmage. Thought senior nose guard Richard Glover (4 tackles) played his best game of the season. Freshman John Voit recorded his first career interception. Voit is the first Army defensive lineman to pick off a pass since Brandon Thompson on Sept. 29, 2007 against Temple.

I’m not counting Fordham’s Hail Mary touchdown by punter Joseph Pavlik against the defense even though the starting secondary was in the game. Senior Hayden Pierce was in good position on the pass to Marc DeSisto but didn’t bat the ball down.

Now to Army’s decision to line up in its triple-option offense and throw the football with 13 seconds left in the game up 42-31. Apparently, the call by coach Monken goes back to the pregame. Army asked Fordham before the game if it could not be on the field when the academy had its Senior Day ceremony. Fordham remained on the field for its warmups during the ceremony, which lasted about four minutes.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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