Army and Rutgers squared off for the 37th time Saturday in the first College Football Bowl Subdivision game played at New Meadowlands Stadium. Rutgers extended its series winning streak to seven games with the victory and grabbed a 19-18 edge in the teams’ all-time series. The Black Knights last win over Rutgers dates back to a 37-35 verdict at West Point in 1997.
Prior to Saturday’s setback, Army had won four straight games on opponents’ home fields (beginning with a win at North Texas last November). It ranked as Army’s longest winning streak in true road games since the Black Knights won six straight over the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Despite the loss, the Black Knights have already won three road games in the same season for the first time since 1967.
Army has won all seven opening coin flips this season. The Black Knights have deferred their choice until the second half in each instance. Rutgers’ overtime coin flip win was the first Army has lost all season.
The Black Knights wore white pants for only the second time in their history. Army debuted its white pants during its season-opening victory at Eastern Michigan.
When Army scored the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter, it marked the fifth straight game in which the Black Knights scored first.
Army is now 6-2 all-time in overtime. Rutgers’ game-winning score was only the second touchdown scored in overtime versus the Black Knights. The last came in the first overtime of Army’s 59-52 double-overtime win over Louisville on Oct. 7, 1999. The score snapped a seven-overtime period streak without allowing a touchdown.
Army entered the game tied for first in the nation in turnover margin (+2.00), but were on the short end of a 2-1 margin on Saturday. The Black Knights are now 5-23 since the start of 2006 when losing the turnover battle and are 1-4 under head coach Rich Ellerson in that situation.
Sophomore QB Trent Steelman drew his 19th consecutive start under center for the Black Knights. Steelman became the first quarterback in Army history to start 12 games last fall. He has not missed a single start during his two-year tenure at West Point.
Sophomore FB Jared Hassin ripped off a 50-yard gain in the second quarter, setting up the Black Knights’ second score of the day. Hassin plunged in from the 6-yard line two plays later. Hassin’s 50-yard run ranks as Army’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
Hassin finished the game with 118 yards on 16 carries. He became the first Army player to rush for 100-yards in consecutive games since Collin Mooney had 207 yards against Rice on Nov. 18, 2008 and 112 yards versus Rutgers on Nov. 22, 2008.
Steelman registered his first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 102 yards and a score on 27 carries. It is the first time Army has had two players reach the 100-yard plateau since Joe Gerena (122) and Brandan Rooney (115) versus Ball State on Sept. 25, 1999.
Army rushed for 289 yards, its seventh straight game of the season over the 200-yard mark. The Black Knights entered the game ninth in the nation, averaging just over 274 yards per contest.
The Black Knights were held to a season-low in points. It was the first time Army did not score at least 24 points and snapped a three-game run of at least 35 points.
Army recorded an Academy-record eight quarterback sacks on the day. The previous mark was seven set versus Dartmouth on Sept. 24, 1983.
Senior DE Josh McNary registered 2.5 quarterback sacks on the day, pushing his season total to 9.5. McNary extended his Academy record career quarterback sack total to 27.5 and his Academy record for tackles for loss to 48.5. McNary already is in second place on the Black Knights’ single-season ledger, just three shy of his own record that he set last season.
Junior LB Steve Erzinger recorded a career-high 14 total tackles and a career-best 3.5 tackles for loss.
Senior FS Donovan Travis matched his career best with 12 total tackles.
Sophomore LB Jarett Mackey had a career-best 1.5 sacks.
Sophomore LB Zach Watts registered his first career punt block in the first quarter. It stands as the Black Knights’ first blocked kick of the season. Senior LB Sean Westphal recovered the blocked punt and returned the ball to the Rutgers 12-yard line, setting up the Black Knights’ first touchdown of the day three plays later.
Alex Carlton booted two field goals to move into a tie for seventh place on the Army career ledger. He is tied with Dave Aucoin (1979-81) with 24 career makes.