Not again against Navy
For the tenth consecutive year the Navy Midshipmen defeated the Army Black Knights. Navy's kicker Jon Teague hit two field goals in the final quarter and the Mids held off Army, 27-21. Army found itself down 14-0, then 21-14 but twice battled back to tie the score. Army committed three costly turnovers that directly led to 17 points for Navy. The Mids’ 10-game winning streak is the longest in series history by either team. Navy now holds a 56-49-7 series lead. The Black Knights outplayed Navy in the first half but had to rally just to tie the score before halftime. It was the most disappointing loss in a disappointing season
Auguring in against Air Force
Army took a 14-0 halftime lead only to squander it as Air Force scored 24 straight unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Black Knights 24-14. The victory allowed the Falcons to claim their second straight Commander in Chief's Trophy. Army had two additional great scoring opportunities in the first half. Backup quarterback Max Jenkins apparent one-yard touchdown run wasn't allowed due to poor officiating and a worse ruling by the replay official. Scott Williams had the ball stripped on a great defensive play by Falcon defensive back Josh Hall at the one-yard line with 25 seconds left in the first half. Army watched helplessly as the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touch back. In the second half Air Force offense started to click as Army's offense imploded with three straight fumbles. The Black Knights were ready to play and had a great first half. Somehow Army found ways to kill themselves with turnovers, bad luck and unforced errors. During the Rich Ellerson era against Air Force at Colorado Springs, Army has been outscored 59-0 in the second half.
The MAC slap.
The Black Knights entered the season with 21-13 record against teams from the Mid-American conference. Historically Army has matched up well against teams from the MAC but this year that wasn't the case on defense. Army's undersized defensive front struggled against the bigger MAC offensive lines. Their defensive backs couldn't match up against the MAC passing attacks. Army was blown out on the road by all four MAC opponents it played this season by a combined 174-89 margin. The Black Knights allowed 43.5 points per game against the MAC. In their other eight games, against the rest of their schedule, the Black Knights defense allowed a respectable 20.6 points per game.
Army blew a 14-point second half lead to lose 35-28 to the previously winless Miami (Ohio) RedHawks on the road. Miami quarterback Zac Dysert passed for 342 yards and four touchdowns to lead the comeback. The Black Knights scored on the opening possession of the second half to take a 28-14 lead. After that, Army's offense failed to score the rest of the game as quarterback Trent Steelman was forced to leave the game a number of times with leg cramps. He was replaced by an ineffective Max Jenkins who failed to sustain either drive he appeared in. Raymond Maples had a costly fumble that gave Miami (Ohio) a short field and a touchdown that allowed them to tie the score. Army's defense could not stop the RedHawks in the second half. This was a pivotal game and would have evened Army's record. Instead the Black Knights dropped to 2-4 and won only one of their final six games.
Too many turnovers
The biggest problem Army faced this year was its consistent inability to hold on to the football. It often neutralized the effectiveness of the nation’s best rushing offense. Army lost more fumbles than any team in the nation. The Black Knights fumbled an incredible 36 times and lost the ball 22 times! This was a radical reversal from the 2010 season when Army was one of the best teams in the nation in turnover margin. Jared Hassin lost his starting fullback job in part to his fumbling five times and losing four at keys times. Army fumbled an unbelievable eight times while losing by just three points in a close loss to San Diego State. Army's fumbling was the difference in losses to both service academy rivals. It is a problem that has to be addressed this spring practice.
In the our next segment on Army football we'll look at the best of 2011.