WEST POINT – The numbers continue to accumulate. The victories are another story.
Army quarterback Trent Steelman rushed for 106 yards and fullback Hayden Tippett rushed for 100, the fifth time this season the Black Knights had multiple 100-yard rushers; the team’s previous record was four, set in 1948. Tippett is the fifth Army player to rush for 100 yards this season, the most since the 1999 team did the same.
The Black Knights’ overall rushing total of 341 yards was its fourth straight game – and sixth overall this season – with at least 300 yards on the ground.
Steelman moved past Ell Roberson of Kansas State into 23rd place on the NCAA all-time quarterback rushing list. Steelman has rushed for 2,882 yards in his career, the fourth most in Army history. He also moved into a tie for fifth place in Army history with his ninth career 100-yard game. He is tied with Charlie Jarvis and teammate Raymond Maples. He is two behind Tory Crawford, the program record holder for quarterbacks. Maples’ 84 yards moved him into ninth place on Army’s all-time list, with 2,108 yards.
In contrast, Ball State’s Jahwan Edwards and Barrington Scott combined for 239 yards rushing; Army has permitted 200 yards or more rushing in six of its eight games.
“He’s patient,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said of Edwards. “He’s a big strong runner, and he’s very patient. We managed the space reasonably well, but we have to be better tacklers than that and get guys off blocks better than that. What you saw was our second-row guys losing their patience and just burying themselves into the pile. That’s how you end up out of position. We needed to keep our patience and keep our depth. If the back can be that patient, then our linebackers need to be. That’s not in their DNA, though. They want to go jump in the pile as soon as they can, and that’s how you can get yourself out of postion.”
The Black Knights’ seventh loss officially eliminated the team from bowl consideration. They can, however, still vie for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, awarded annually to one of the three military academies that wins the series among them. Army plays Air Force next week and Navy Dec. 8. As Navy has already defeated Air Force, Navy would win the trophy if Air Force defeats Army. If Army defeats Air Force, the trophy winner will be decided between Army and Navy. Army last won the trophy in 1996.
“Air Force is such a big game for us that we’ll be mentally there,” Army offensive lineman Michael Kime said. “The defense that Ball State ran is pretty similar to what Air Force is going to run, so we saw a lot of what we’re going to see next week. We’re just going to fine-tune some of the things we did, especially up front on the offensive line, getting the calls right and technique-wise. I think we’ll be fine as an offense next week.”
“I just told the guys that we have to unload this one as quick as we can,” Ellerson said. “We can salvage so much and drop so much of this frustration and hurt. We know we can compete. We’ve stayed together through all this stuff. We’ve continued to compete through all this stuff. We believe in one another. We believe in what we’re doing. They’re hurting, but they can see it too. This is a relatively easy week from a coaching emotion standpoint. We’ll be excited to play, and want to play so badly. We have to make sure we prepare as smart and as thoroughly as we can. Get this thing behind us as quickly as we can, and get ready for the next one.”
The loss to Ball State was Army’s eighth straight to teams from the Mid-American Conference, including four this season.
The Black Knights dropped to 8-72 in its last 80 games trailing at the half and its 24th straight game when trailing after three quarters. Further, Army is now 5-25 since 2009 when either even or behind in turnover margin. Army forced one turnover and committed one turnover against the Cardinals.