WEST POINT, NY - Who would have thought when GoBlackKnights.com Publisher Charles Grevious was on Yahoo!Radio Campus Report on Friday, that many of his projections would come to pass.
"On Saturday, Army is expecting its largest home crowd of the 2012 season, with a projected attendance of 37,000 as they host Boston College of the ACC," shared Grevious
"The matchup between these two northeast schools has the potential of a true fall classic, despite the records of both squads."
"The biggest match-up of the day will pit Army's triple option offense against the Eagles' defense, that has already gone head to head with the offenses of Clemson, Miami and Northwestern," the GBK Publisher went on to say. "Army offense, which is No. 2 in the country in rushing, with an impressive average of 367 yards per game will be a handful for BC. However, the Black Knights' defense will have their hands full attempting to slow down the Eagles' solid passing attack."
"This contest may come down to which team has the ball last, but also which offense can play error free football," concluded Grevious.
And boy, that pretty much was the storybook finish that took place in front of the largest crowd to take in a game at Michie Stadium since 2004, as 39,492 saw a previously noted, a "fall classic".
But this was a game filled with some of the expected, but then again, there was plenty of the unexpected, along with some new names to step up for the Black Knights.
On the Eagles' first series of the game, and on 3rd & 11 from their own 25, quarterback Chase Rettig's pass reached his receiver, but Army linebacker Nate Combs, who would be a presence throughout the day, welcomed the BC receiver to Michie Stadium with an ESPN highlight hit ... and forced the Eagles to punt.
From there the Army offense took over and on their first series, provided BC with a taste of what their defensive day was going to be like. The Black Knights went on a 9 play, 70 yard drive, which ate up a mere 3:44 off the clock as it was a large dosage of slotback Raymond Maples on the drive. The talented junior touched the ball on the first five plays, only to allow his teammates to join in on the series which included quarterback Trent Steelman, slotback Stephen Fraser and fullback Larry Dixon, who contributed his portion on a 34 yard jaunt, which brought the ball to the 1 yard line. This was followed by Steelman's sneak in from 1 yard out and the shoot-out was under way.
On this day, Army's offense was doing exactly what Black Knight fans are accustomed to. But it was the defense that truly stepped up today, lead by Nate Combs, who wasn't the leading tackler, but had his finger print on what was taking place throughout the day.
And his play was contagious, as first time starter T.J. Atimalala made his presence felt, although his stats don't reflect the value he added up front.
Then there's the unsung hero on the defense in cornerback Marques Avery, who once again was subbing for injured Josh Jackson. Although Avery had his moments, where just before halftime the sophomore bit on Rettig's play-action that resulted in a 20 yard TD pass and a 24-14 Eagles' lead. But overall, Avery held his ground throughout the game.
But this was defense by committee and that's exactly how Ellerson would like to see them perform on a weekly basis.
"I think that this game shows another step in the right direction, especially up front as far us growing up and being able to handle the competition that we are going to face every weekend," shares defensive tackles coach, Clarence Holmes after Saturday's performance. "It's not going to get any easier, but it's good to see our guys kind of growing into the physicality that we are going to need in the trenches to be able to maintain ourselves in some games. Today I think we took a step forward, we are playing, more physical, playing more confident which is huge in the trenches and guys are starting to show up with some plays now."
But it was also the resiliency (remember that term for later in the game) of the Army offense, who appeared determine to put points on the board before the close of the 1st half. With 2:46 remaining, the offense put on a brief drive that provided kicker Dan Grochowski i an opportunity from 46 yards out and the frosh did not disappoint, allowing Army to cut the 1st half lead, 24-17.
As they did on their first offensive series of the game, the Black Knights seem to put their triple option in 3rd & 4th gear, as their offense by committee would see for the 2nd time this season, three players go over the century mark in one ball game.
Maples broke for 184 (5.4); Steelman churned out 141 yards (6.4) and Dixon "bulled" his way for 128 yards with an impressive 9.8 average.
But the highlight of the 17 play, 75 yard drive (6:08) was an extremely well executed diversion of fakes by the Army QB on 1st & 10 on BC's 40 yard line, as #8 took off for a text book option run for 27 yards to the Eagles' 13. Two plays later, Dixon hit paydirt and a 24-24 tie, which was the score entering the final stanza.
4th Quarter Resiliency
When Boston College scored after their 8 plays, 77 yard drive and a 31-27 lead, there was more than enough time on the clock (6:11) for Army to mount their own drive ... for which they did.
The Black Knights marched down to the Eagles 1 yard line, with a 4th & goal and 2:09 remaining in the game it was BC's defense that showed resiliency, as they stopped Maples cold on a pitch left and what appeared to be any hope of an Army win.
So much so, that many fans began to make their way to the exits, as a possible upset seem to be lost to the Army faithful, who packed Michie Stadium.
But the Black Knights, who had two timeouts to their credit, saw their defense take a chapter out of the 'resilience' manual and hold the BC offense, that forced them to punt.
"That was pretty fun," said Combs after the game. "I think I got into a four-point (stance) three straight plays, just doing whatever I could, grabbing who I could. I think everyone was doing that. Then we saw our offense go down and score. That's exactly what you picture before you go to sleep. You see these images, and it finally happened."
After a poor punt by the Eagles, the final bit of resiliency prevailed for the Army offense, who would not be denied.
On 3rd & 9 at the Boston College 29 yard line, Steelman made impressive burst off the left side of the offensive and it was Army's first win of the 2012 season.
Boston College 31
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