October 27, 2012

Ball State runs past Army, 30-22

Although one could argue that the Army defense played better this weekend against Ball State compared to their previous outings, playing "okay" versus "poor" still allows room for the aggravation to set in for those loyal Army fans.

And when you couple that with an offense that statistically on paper appears to be clicking, but yet in crunch time or when the opportunity presents itself just don't answer the bell .... well, it just becomes that proverbial "Groundhog Day" game day moment the committed fan base.

The BIG MAC

Today's game would be the 3rd straight week that the Black Knights have faced a MAC opponent, having lost seven consecutive games against opponents from that conference. This is a conference that whose teams should never be taken lightly. On the season, MAC teams have already registered 8 wins against BCS opponents. Even today, Kent State upset No. 15 Rutgers, 35-23.

This Saturday it was Ball State for Army. Like previous weeks, this would be an opportunity for the Black Knights to wake up from this nightmarish slide.

However, on their first two possessions, the Cardinals march 75 yards (9 plays) and 60 yards (12 plays) netting 14 early points before the Army squad could respond to the snooze alarm.

Throughout their first two drives, as well as the entire ball game for Ball State, it was a combination of Jahwan Edwards, who would finish the day with 153 yards on the ground, as well as running mate Barington Scott (81 yards). And when he needed to go to the air, quarterback Keith Wenning favorite target on the day was wide receiver Willie Snead, who had a field day with the Army corners, especially Marques Avery.

To Army's credit, they fought back from the early 14-0 deficit, as it became Hayden Tippett show. The junior fullback, who once again stepped in for injured Larry Dixon, carried the ball 5 times on Army's 9 play 76 yard drive. Tippett clobber his way over the Ball State safety for the final 7 yards of the drive that reduced the Cardinals lead to 14-7. On the day, the 5'11", 225 pounder would break the century mark for the first time in his Army football career, as he rushed for an even 100 yards on the day.

The trend of coming from behind against early deficits seems to be more than Army's offense can respond to. Especially an offense that appears to both out of sink at times, and even exhausted.

But the Black Knights had several occasions to not only close the gap or tie the score. However, two critical 1st half mistakes may have cost Army 14 points.

The first came with Army trailing 14-7 and the ball on Ball State's 5 yard line. With 6:18 left in the 2nd quarter and 3rd & 3, the entire backfield sprints left, while quarterback Trent Steelman heads left as he has a lapse in what play he called. The 2 yard loss was followed by Daniel Grochowski''s 24 yard field goal.

The next miscue saw Army down 17-10, :34 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter with the ball on Ball State's 30 yard line. On 2nd & 10, the ball was dislodged from the hard running Tippett as he hits the hole and the Cardinals recover and closed out the 1st half with Ball State leading, 17-10.

Army came out in the 2nd half and added 3-points to the their total on a Grochowski 45 yard field and reduced the Ball State lead to 17-13.

Unfortunately, the Army defense, which did show some signs of life, would allow Ball State to match the Black Knights' field goal with one of their own.

And that was the theme for the balance of the contest, as the Cardinals were able to keep the Black Knights at arms length so much that Army was never out of the game, but yet they never appeared to be completely in it either.

Final Score:
Ball State: 30
Army: 22

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