October 23, 2009

Rutgers runs past Army, 27-10

Contrary to what many observers felt about the contest between the two Knighted teams, there were some obvious similarities with both programs.

For the Black Knights of Army and the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, both were starting freshmen quarterbacks, who have been labeled as the future to their respective programs. Each program has solid links to the history of college football, however each have been working diligently to get back into the limelight of the college football landscape, although Rutgers started to turn the corner in 2006 with the epic win over Louisville, while Army is hoping to do so under first year head coach Rich Ellerson and his regime.

Both squads were looking to rebound from last weekend's loses to Temple (Army) and Pittsburgh (Rutgers).

Coming into Friday evening's game, it was a must win for both of these northeast teams, who were playing before a national audience on ESPN2, and the capacity crowd at Michie Stadium.

For the Army faithful, it almost felt like being back a square one, after just two weeks ago, their team pulled of a exciting victory of Vanderbilt, but only to see the wind taken out of the sails when they could not pull off a win over Temple the following week.

The inevitable question that the Black Knights fans had was … "which Army team will show up against Rutgers?"

The Black Knights were recipients of the opening kickoff and as they had done several times this season, they took their opening drive down the field, that resulted in a score, where they drove 45 yards on 9 plays and netted a 41 yard field goal from Alex Carlton. This has been the theme for the offense this year, where they hit the red or green zone areas after time consuming drives, but either have to settle for 3 points or no points at all.

However, after taking the initial lead, the first quarter was all Rutgers, offensively, defensively and special teams.

After Joe Lefeged returned the ensuing kickoff to the Rutgers 46 yard line, a Savage pass to Mark Harrison for 32 yard, along with several Joe Martinek runs, was capped off by Martinek himself sliding in from 4 yards out and the Scarlet Knights' first score on the evening.

On Army's next series, it was clear that Schiano's triple option preparation was paying off, as the Black Knights could not put together anything that resembled a drive and the was the case throughout the 1st quarter.

Sandwiched in between the Black Knights attempt to move the ball was San Fan Te's 27 yard field goal and from their own 30 yard line, Jonathan Bulls' punt is blocked by Steve Beauharnais and returned for Rutgers' second touchdown of the game.

Rutgers - 17
Army - 3

The 2nd quarter saw Army squander an opportunity after quarterback Trent Steelman kept the ball on the option and rambled 33 yards to the Rutgers' 34. That play was followed an illegal block penalty by Ali Villanueva, followed by a Steelman fumble on the Rutgers' 40 yard line closed out Army's final 1st half threat. The balance of the half became a defensive battle, and the teams reached a 1st half stalemate.

As the 3rd quarter started, it appeared that Rutgers caught the mistake virus. On their first series, a combination of a Jabu Lovelace fumble, a dropped pass by Tim Brown, who had been extremely effective up to that point and questionable fake punt attempt.

Army's first possession of the 3rd quarter resulted in their best drive of the game, as Steelman made a great pitch to Patrick Mealy who broke off 22 yards to the Rutgers' 27 yard line and after two offsides penalties, freshman slot back Lonnie Liggins hit paydirt from 17 yards out.

Liggins' touchdown scamper was probably the best looking run of the season. The USMAPS product showed a combination of speed, quickness and cutback ability … something that has been missing from the Army offense all season.

Rutgers - 17
Army - 10

After holding Rutgers to a 41 yard field goal, Army's offense picked up where it left off on the previous series. However, after driving the ball down to the Rutgers' 34 yard line, fullback Kingsley Ehie coughs up the ball and Rutgers' avoided a possible Army score.

A chapter that has been written too often this season … the defense was called upon again to keep the Black Knights in the game and they are able to stall the Rutgers' next series.

However, staying true to form, Army turned the ball right back to the Scarlet Knights, as back-up fullback Brad Gallik does no better than his predecessor and fumbles at his own 33 yard line, as the 3rd quarter concludes.

What little momentum that the Black Knights could establish, they just never built on it and gave it right back to Rutgers.

At this stage and pretty much throughout the contest, Savage had all day to look for receivers and on the first play of the 4th quarter, he hits tight-end Shamar Graves for 28 yards and the next play, Martinek carries it in from 6 yards out.

At that point, the squad from Piscataway had virtually taken away any swagger that remained with the Black Knights and was holding onto a very comfortable 27-10 lead with a little over 13 minutes remaining.

As the teams went back and forth, and Chip Bowden in the game at quarterback for Army, the only thing remaining was how many yards that Martinek when end up with.

The hard running junior came into the game with 434 yards on the season and would finish the evening adding 139 yards (25 carries) to his season's total.

For the Black Knights, this represented the 2nd game of the season, with Iowa State being the other, that they were physically handled up front, as the mammoth Rutgers' offensive line for the most part kept Savage clean and Martinek busy.

FINAL SCORE

Rutgers - 27
Army - 10


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