Image by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy
The Army West Point Football team had one of its best offensive performances of the season, but it wasn’t enough to top Rutgers Nov. 21 at Michie Stadium. The Scarlet Knights won 31-21 despite the Black Knights’ 401 total yards, just the second time they breached the 400-yard mark this season.
Army’s record now stands at 2-9 and Rutgers is 4-7 on the season.
Freshman quarterback Chris Carter drew his first career start for the Black Knights. He finished the day 4-for-6 through the air for 140 yards and one touchdown, the yardage mark a season-high for an Army quarterback. Carter was also the team’s leading rusher with 111 on the ground and another score.
Carter drove the Black Knights down the field on the opening drive and put Army in field goal range. Daniel Grochowski’s 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Rutgers and gave the Scarlet Knights great field position for their first drive. They took advantage by driving 60 yards in five plays capped off by a Paul James seven-yard touchdown run. Rutgers led 7-0 just over six minutes into the contest.
After the two teams traded three-and-outs, Carter had difficulty handling the snap which led to a Scarlet Knights fumble recovery at the Army 39-yard line. Rutgers did not take long to capitalize again as James found the end zone on the fifth play of the drive, spinning out of a tackle to cross the plane and take a 14-0 lead with 44 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Black Knights’ offense used a pair of big plays to get on the scoreboard on the following drive. Carter found Edgar Poe on 3rd-and-6 for a 30-yard pass play, and two plays later, Aaron Kemper ripped off a 38-yard touchdown run. Army cut the deficit to 14-7 as 11:11 showed on the clock in the second quarter.
The Scarlet Knights began their next possession at their own 41-yard line after Justin Goodwin’s 25-yard return. The Army defense struggled to stop Rutgers as every play aside from two incompletions went for five or more yards on the 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive. Robert Martin scored with 7:17 remaining in the half to boost the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 21-7.
Carter responded by taking the first play of the subsequent drive 45 yards down the right sideline to the Rutgers 35-yard line. The Army offense continued to move the ball, eventually finding the end zone on a 4th down attempt from the 1-yard line as Carter kept the ball himself for his first career touchdown. The Black Knights’ drive went 80 yards on 10 plays, all on the ground to make it 21-14 with 1:09 left in the half.
Rutgers had just enough time left on the clock to tack on a field goal before the second quarter expired. Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano engineered a 43-yard drive before Kyle Federico barely cleared the crossbar on his field goal attempt to extend the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 24-14 at halftime.
Rutgers stormed out of the gates in the second half as James ran 54 yards down to the Army 14-yard line on the opening play of the half. The Black Knights’ defense nearly prevented the Scarlet Knights from scoring, but James dove into the end zone on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line for his third score of the day. Rutgers led 31-14 with 11:21 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
Carter eclipsed 100 rushing yards with an impressive 14-yard run for a first down. The freshman then found Nicholas Black for 22 yards to put the Black Knights in Rutgers territory. The Army drive stalled from there and resulted in no points as a fake field goal was shut down by the Scarlet Knights’ special teams.
Poe made a highlight-reel catch on the Black Knights next drive. The 6-foot-4 receiver went up and reached over a Rutgers defender on a 3rd-and-7 pass from Carter and then proceeded to hold off the defender as he went 65 yards to the house. That play cut the Rutgers lead to 10 points as Army trailed 31-21 entering the final stanza.
The Black Knights’ defense came up big twice on the next drive. They seemed to have forced a three-and-out but a roughing the kicker penalty on the punt gave Rutgers a first down. After coming back onto the field, Army’s defense forced incompletions on second and third down and the Scarlet Knights punted the ball away.
Army moved the ball downfield despite Carter sitting out a few plays due to injury. However, the young signal caller took a shot at the end zone on 2nd-and-11 from the Rutgers 21-yard line and was intercepted by Josh Hicks in the end zone.
Rutgers would not relinquish control of the ball, maintaining possession for the final 5:22 of the game and holding on for the victory.
The Scarlet Knights finished with 359 total yards compared to Army’s 401 yards. Army outgained Rutgers through the air (140-105) and on the ground (261-254).
U.S. Army photos by John Pellino/ West Point DPTMS VI
Caption by: Mark Mohrman (Army West Point Athletic Communications.)