Army 5-6

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I got a late jump on the game due to factors out of my control... I found the feed, posted the link, and tuned in.

Immediately I realized what they meant by a 2 camera broadcast... mine wasn't the KTXA Dallas broadcast, it was the video screen from the actual jumbo-tron - with audio from the North Texas 88.1FM radio crew... So while the audio pissed me off from the start I rather enjoyed the North Texas motivational clips like: ((NOISE!))... ((LOUDER!!)) implied for the half-empty stands at Fouts Field. Another, the 16-bit NCAA video replay review graphic, gave the video stream a very Sega Genesis Bill Walsh College football feel. I would rip all that stuff, but those are truly the things I hold dear.

The next thing I noticed was the vocal Army following, which at first seemed to make sense considering Texas' resident Army personnel. Looking for recaps of the game I realized those most vocal Army supporters may have been troops stationed at Fort Hood enjoying a Saturday's R&R. If it was Ft. Hood soldiers bringing the ruckus at the Army game, that's AWESOME... I heard you.

The first half was pretty bad, Army totaled 53 yards in the entire half. It's one thing when your team is struggles to move the ball, you know it's bad when that phenomenon lasts for a whole season. As a fan you might start to rationalize with something like, "It can only get better from here..." It got to that point for me at halftime. With fading bowl hopes I was sitting there watching Army try for their 13th touchdown of the year... it was the low point of the season.

The Black Knights didn't rationalize and they didn't give up, even after another patented Rich Ellerson botched 4th and short . The Black Knights went from the season's emotional low point to the season's emotional high point in about 2 and a half minutes.

Between a late game field goal block and long run by Steelman I can't decide which play was the game breaker. There couldn't be a more timely blocked kick than Marcus Hilton's field goal block. One defensive series removed from a disastrous 4th and 3 option run - this time from Army's own 35,

On the play after the blocked kick Trent Steelman took a 55 yard stroll to swing the momentum of the game. As frustrating as the 1st 3 quarters were, the finish was as stirring as any game I've had a rooting interest in.

I've thought about Rich Ellerson's decision to go for it on 4th down with 5 minutes left. When it was going down all I could think about when they went for the same thing in Temple game. Considering the time and situation, I've got to slam that risky decision, but that sequence also gave the Mean Green a short field and led to the field goal block, and Steelman's game saving run. It's as fortunate as that situation will give you, but I'll take it. To justify that 4th down call all you have to do is take a look at the efficiency of North Texas' second drive of the game:

DRIVE TOTALS: NORTH TEXAS drive: 14 plays 84 yards, 07:12 NORTH TEXAS TD

North Texas at 12:02

1st and 10 at UNT 16 Riley Dodge pass complete for 4 yards to the NoTex 20.
2nd and 6 at UNT 20 Riley Dodge pass complete for 4 yards to the NoTex 24.
3rd and 2 at UNT 24 Riley Dodge rush for 10 yards
1ST down.
1st and 10 at UNT 34 Riley Dodge pass incomplete.
2nd and 10 at UNT 34 Riley Dodge pass complete for 5 yards to the NoTex 39.
3rd and 5 at UNT 39 Riley Dodge pass complete for 7 yards to the NoTex 46.
1ST down.
1st and 10 at UNT 46 Riley Dodge pass complete for 6 yards to the Army 48.
2nd and 4 at ARMY 48 Riley Dodge pass complete for 6 yards to the Army 42
1ST down.
1st and 10 at ARMY 42 Lance Dunbar rush for 3 yards to the Army 39.
2nd and 7 at ARMY 39 Riley Dodge pass complete for 21 yards to the Army 18
1ST down.
1st and 10 at ARMY 18 NORTH TEXAS penalty 5 yard False Start accepted.
1st and 15 at ARMY 23 Riley Dodge rush for 14 yards to the Army 9.
2nd and 1 at ARMY 9 Riley Dodge pass complete for 5 yards to the Army 4.
1ST down.
1st and Goal at ARMY 4 Lance Dunbar rush for no gain to the Army 4.
2nd and Goal at ARMY 4 Riley Dodge pass complete for 4 yards

Army responded in the third quarter with a clutch drive of their own.

How important was this game? The win allows Army to survive and advance in the bowl hunt.

And now, the Black Knights have set up the ultimate Army-Navy game.

"It's the start of something good," Army freshman quarterback Trent Steelman said. "It's the first time we've won five games (5-6) since 1996. These seniors have laid such a great foundation and this is the start of something great and better years to come. It gives a chance to go to a bowl game if we beat Navy (on Dec. 12 in Philadelphia) and nothing would be better than that."

This was the fifth second-half lead given up this year by the Mean Green. I for one had no sympathy for the Mean Green when the North Texas announcers were giving their weekly aw shucks post game report. It was nice to see Army come out of Texas with a win. After a first half like that, I don't know if they could have escaped from any other Texas venue with a win.

It's the 5th win of the season: important, but it's not the 12th win... it's not even the 6th win. The season comes down to the 110th edition of America's Game - Army vs. Navy on December 12th, 2009. The outcome of the Army Navy game will largely determine just how successful Rich Ellerson's first year was and that can range anywhere from a poor underachieving year, an average, almost-made-it type year - or a wildly successful bowl campaign. Say what you will about Army's 2009 team to this point... I know I want this team to be remembered as the latter.

Your North Texas/Army story and stats.



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