Army football: The best of 2012

Steelman after AF win. (Danny Wild-US PRESSWIRE)

Despite finishing with a disappointing 2-10 record, the 2012 Army football season did have some positive highlights. Here is a look at five of the best moments of Army football in 2012.

Army downs Air Force
Before the game Air Force linebacker Alex Means said, "Since I've been here, we have never lost to Army. It's something that I can't imagine doing." Imagine it. The Army Black Knights dominated Air Force as they pounded the Falcons 41-21 at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights defeated the Falcons for the first time since 1996. It was Army's first victory over Air Force since 2005. Army ran for four touchdowns and recovered a fumble in the end zone. The Army defense held the second ranked rushing team in the nation to just 103 rushing yards and recovered or forced five turnovers. The Black Knights scored on their opening possession and took a 20-7 lead into halftime. Army shutdown the Falcons in the third quarter as they extended the lead to 35-7. Air Force, which has dominated the second half of these contests in the Rich Ellerson era, rallied to pull within two touchdowns but an errant snap which was recovered by captain Nate Combs in the end zone sealed the win. The win was Rich Ellerson's first over a fellow service academy. The victory allowed the Black Knights to play Navy, who already beat the Falcons, for the rights to the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. It was one of the few bright spots in a very disappointing season.

Beating Boston College
This was a bad Boston College team but the Eagles had won the last five games in the series by a convincing combined 191-71 score. The Black Knights victory was a thrilling last minute 34-31 win over the Eagles in front of a crowd of 39,942 at Michie Stadium. After Raymond Maples was stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth down with 2:03 left in the game, it looked like Army would lose another heart breaker. However the defense made one of their few stands all year and forced a poor punt by the Eagles. With Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno cheering from the sidelines, quarterback Trent Steelman faked the pitch and created a running lane to score the game winning 29-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left in the game. It was a gutty performance from the four year starter that Army fans had come to expect. Steelman battled through pain, wearing a vest to protect his injured ribs, while rushing for 141 yards and scoring three touchdowns. The Black Knights ran for an amazing 516 yards, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns. The victory was Army's first win in 2012 and ended the Black Knights eight game losing streak dating back to last season.

Steelman sets the all-time touchdown record
This year quarterback Trent Steelman surpassed legendary Army Heisman Trophy winner Glenn "Mr. Outside" Davis as the all-time career leader in touchdowns at West Point. Steelman scored 45 touchdowns in his career. As a senior Trent Steelman (1,248 rushing yards, 5.2 avg., 17 TDs) had his best season running the ball. Steelman has been the face of Army football for the last four years as he started an amazing 46 games and he leaves holding numerous records. Steelman led the Black Knights to its first winning season in 2010 and its first bowl win. The last two years he helped run an offense that broke the school team rushing record each year. Steelman wasn't a great talent, made his share of frustrating turnovers but he played with a desire, toughness and determination that had to be admired. Trent's final touchdown run at Michie Stadium, a 56-yard touchdown run to pass Glenn Davis was one of the best touchdown runs of his career.

The Best Rushing Offense in the Nation
When the Black Knights hired Rich Ellerson the goal was to be once again a productive rushing option offense. In his first season at West Point, Army scored just 13 rushing touchdowns. This year they produced 32 rushing touchdowns. The Black Knights led the nation in rushing for the second consecutive year. The 2012 team averaged over 369 yards per game as they ran for a school record 4,438 yards. For the second year in a row the team exceeded 4,000 rushing yards in a single season. It was far from perfect. The running game fumbled too often and didn't always finish drives but it was productive. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields continues to be very creative with his use of counters and misdirection. Army doesn't have the fastest backs but they do an excellent job of moving the ball. Even arch rival Navy has added the "Army" counter play to their arsenal.

Next we'll take a look at the five worst moments of 2012.

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