WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army will try to go 2-0 for the first time since the 1996 squad started with nine straight wins when it hosts Duke on Saturday at Michie Stadium. It is the home debut for the Black Knights after scoring a 27-14 road victory at Eastern Michigan last Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 12:02 p.m. and will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports Network.
The Black Knights’ victory in Ypsilanti marked the first time Army won a season opener since 1996, snapping a 12-game losing streak. The Black Knights are above the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 1996 season, a span of 148 games.
Head coach Rich Ellerson made Army history, becoming the first Black Knights’ head coach to score a victory in a season-opening game played away from West Point. The win also stopped a four-game losing streak for coach’s making their Army debut (Todd Berry, John Mumford, Bobby Ross, Stan Brock). He is the first Army mentor to win their first game on the Black Knights’ sideline since Bob Sutton in 1991.
Army’s new offensive and defensive systems certainly made their mark in the win at Eastern Michigan. The Black Knights’ triple-option offense accounted for 300 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including 184 yards and a pair of scores in the fourth quarter. Army’s “double-eagle flex” defense swarmed the Eagles for six sacks and nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The stop unit limited EMU to 223 yards of offense and just 40 yards rushing.
Senior Victor Ugenyi had a career night in his first game as a defensive tackle. Ugenyi was utilized as a pass rusher on the edge in his first three seasons, but was moved inside during spring practice. He responded to the switch with a career-high 2.5 sacks against EMU.
Not to be outdone, junior DE Josh McNary was just as effective as a pass rusher, reaching the quarterback a career-high 2.5 times. McNary was Army’s leading tackler with nine stops.
Offensively, junior SB Patrick Mealy recorded his first career 100-yard game with 109 rushing yards on only five carries (21.8 yds/carry). Mealy’s biggest run came in the fourth quarter when he converted a 3rd-and-10 with a 75-yard run to set up Army’s final touchdown.
Junior FB Kingsley Ehie also had a career night with 75 yards and two touchdowns on 12 rushes. Ehie had 10 carries for 68 yards and both his scores in the fourth quarter.
Freshman QB Trent Steelman made his collegiate debut, becoming the first plebe to start a season opener in the modern era (since 1944). The victory snapped Army’s eight-game losing streak with a rookie starter under center. Steelman engineered a touchdown drive on his first collegiate possession. He finished the game with 20 yards on 13 carries and 2 of 5 for eight yards through the air.
TELEVISION Network: CBS College Sports Network Play-by-Play: Dave Ryan Color Analyst: Jason Sehorn Sideline Reporter: Cadet Greg Durso
Saturday is the Army’s first on CBS College Sports Network since signing a new five-year contract.
ARMY RADIO Army Sports Network Flagship: WABC (770-AM, New York, N.Y.) Affiliates: WALL (1340-AM, Middletown, N.Y.); WEOK (1390-AM, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) Play-by-Play: John Minko Color Analyst: Dean Darling Sideline: Rich DeMarco Program Host: Bob Outer
The 90-minute “Army Football Tailgate Show,” hosted by Rich DeMarco and Bob Outer begins at 10 a.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 11:30 a.m.
SATELLITE RADIO The Army Sports Network game broadcast will be carried via Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 127) and beginning at 12 p.m.
INTERNET STREAMING The entire Army Sports Network broadcast, including the “Army Football Tailgate Show,” will be streamed live via ITT Knight Vision on www.goARMYsports.com each week. Subscription fees apply.
On Tuesdays of game weeks, Rich Ellerson’s weekly press conference will be video streamed live on ITT Knight Vision. Thursday’s “This Week in Army Football,” show will also be video streamed live. Both events are available only to ITT Knight Vision subscribers.
COACHING MATCH UP ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON Alma Mater: Hawai’i, 1977 1st Season at Army (1-0, 1.000) 10th Season Overall (61-41, .598) Record vs. Duke: 0-0
DUKE HEAD COACH DAVID CUTCLIFFE Alma Mater: Alabama, 1976 2nd Season at Duke (4-9, .308) 8th Season Overall (48-38, .558) Record vs. Army: 0-0
SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS Duke is in its second season under head coach David Cutcliffe. The former offensive coordinator at Tennessee and head coach at Mississippi who counts both Peyton and Eli Manning among his proteges, guided the Blue Devils to a 4-8 record in 2008. The four wins equaled the program’s win total from the previous four seasons combined.
Duke returns 32 letterwinners and 12 starters from last season. The Blue Devils have only nine scholarship seniors, the fewest number in the ACC. Only three of those seniors are on the offensive side of the ball. While small in number, the seniors have been quite effective. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis ranked second in the ACC a year ago at 197.4 passing yards per game and 15 passing touchdowns. Lewis entered the 2009 campaign first among active ACC quarterbacks with 6,735 passing yards and second on the conference’s list of active players with 6,609 yards of total offense.
Offensively, Duke averaged 303.83 yards and 20.08 points per game last season. The Blue Devils gained an average of 106.17 yards on the ground and 197.67 yards via the pass. Lewis ranked among the nation’s top 100 players in both passing efficiency (64th, 122.95) and total offense (63rd, 206.09).
On defense, the Blue Devils allowed an average of 356.92 yards and 23.42 points per contest. They boasted a potent pass rush, averaging 2.17 sacks per game, ranking 45th in the nation. Duke must replace linebacker Michael Tauiliili who led the team and ranked third in the nation last season with 11.67 tackles per game. He also ranked 62nd in the country with 1.08 tackles for loss per game.
Duke opened the 2009 season with a 24-16 home loss to Richmond last Saturday. Lewis paced the Blue Devils’ offense, completing 34-of-55 throws for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers and Johnny Williams and Austin Kelly were Lewis’ favorite targets with seven catches each. Williams accounted for 115 yards and a touchdown, while Kelly racked up 80 yards and a score. The Blue Devils outgained the Spiders, 369-282, but rushed for just 19 yards. Linebacker Vincent Rey led the Duke defense with 14 tackles, which ranked third on the Blue Devils’ single-game record list.
Special teams played a vital role in the game. The Spiders took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown. Duke also misfired on two field goal tries. The Blue Devils also benefitted from a kicking miscue, picking up two points when a Richmond punt snap sailed out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Saturday’s game is the first of two straight road outings for the Blue Devils. They will travel to Kansas on Sept. 19.
THE ARMY-DUKE SERIES The Black Knights and Blue Devils have met 20 times on the gridiron with Duke holding a slim 10-9-1 advantage. The first meeting was a 27-7 Army victory at the Polo Grounds in New York City during the Cadets’ 1944 national championship season. The first four games in the series (1944-46, 53) were all played in the fabled facility.
Army won the first six games and eight of the first 12 meetings in the series, but Duke reeled off a five-game winning streak between 1989-97.
The Blue Devils hold a 5-3-1 edge in games played at Michie Stadium. Army was victorious the last time Duke visited West Point, earning a 35-17 win during the 1996 season.
ARMY AGAINST THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE Duke is the first ACC team the Black Knights have faced since playing three games against league members during the 2007 season.
Army is 34-53-1 all-time against teams currently competing in the ACC (Boston College 12-24, Clemson 1-0, Duke 9-10-1, Georgia Tech 1-3, North Carolina 1-6, North Carolina State 1-0, Virginia 5-3, Wake Forest 4-7).
The Black Knights have lost six straight games to ACC opponents overall and 16 in a row on the road. Army’s win against Georgia Tech in 1971 was the last time the Black Knights defeated an ACC team on its home field.
LAST TIME VERSUS DUKE: DUKE 20, ARMY 17 (SEPT. 20, 1997) DURHAM, N.C. — Army fought back from a 17-9 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game, but Sims Lenhardt’s hit a 27-yard field goal with only 51 seconds left to lift Duke to a 20-17 victory at Wallace Wade Stadium.
A five-yard run by Ty Amey with 3:55 left in the final stanza pulled the Black Knights within two points, and Johnny Goff finished the comeback, hitting Rod Richardson on a two-point conversion pass.
Goff led the squad with 97 yards rushing on 25 attempts. Amey toted the ball 16 times for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Goff went 3 for 9 for 41 yards through the air.
Lenhardt put the Blue Devils up midway through the first quarter with a 46-yard field goal. Army’s Eric Olsen tied the game at 3-3 with a 23-yard field goal with 14:20 left in the first half. Army took its first and only lead of the game on Amey’s first touchdown run, a 2-yard burst. The extra-point try missed and the Black Knights took a 9-3 lead into the locker room. Duke scored two unanswered touchdowns to take an eight-point lead with 8:41 left and set up Army’s comeback attempt.
ARMY IN HOME OPENERS The Black Knights boast an .819 winning percentage in home openers during their previous 119 seasons of intercollegiate play. Army’s all-time record in home openers stands at 96-20-3.
Army lost its home opener in 2008. Temple scored a 35-7 win on Friday, Aug. 29. It was the earliest season opener in Black Knights history. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak in home openers. Both of those wins came in overtime. Army secured overtime wins against Kent State (17-14) in 2006 and Rhode Island (14-7) in 2007.
Saturday marks just the ninth time in 120 seasons of football that the Black Knights’ home opener is not the season opener. Army is 5-3 in its first eight home debuts following a game away from West Point.
IN A RUSH The Black Knights rushed for exactly 300 yards in the season-opening win at Eastern Michigan. The Black Knights were one of 13 teams to reach the 300-yard mark in the opening week.
It was the 149th time in Academy history the Black Knights reached the 300-yard mark in a game. Army has run for at least 300 yards four times in the last two seasons since going back to the option. The Black Knights had four 300-yard rushing games total between 1999-2007. Army switched from a wishbone attack to a pro-style offense in 2000.
Since the 1996 season, Army is now 21-7 when rushing for at least 300 yards.
Saturday’s 300-yard effort in Ypsilanti was the first time the Black Knights hit that mark in a season opener since running for 324 yards in a 37-20 win over Ohio. That was also the last time the Black Knights won a season opener. FLEX-ING ITS MUSCLE In its first game running the “double-eagle flex” the Black Knights’ defense showcased its ability to rush the passer, notching six sacks at Eastern Michigan. Five of those quarterback takedowns came in the first half, equaling last year’s season high (vs. Buffalo; vs. Louisiana Tech).
Army’s six sacks at EMU is tied for the second most in Academy history. Sacks began being tracked during the 1983 season.
The Black Knights’ single-game record is seven sacks against Dartmouth on Sept. 24, 1983.
After the first week, Army is tied for first in the nation in sacks. The Black Knights, South Carolina and California all registered six sacks in their season openers. Army’s 51 yards lost on those six sacks were the most in the country.
MEALY EATS UP EAGLES Junior SB Patrick Mealy recorded his first 100-yard rushing game at Eastern Michigan with 109 yards and a touchdown on only five carries. Mealy’s previous career high was 86 yards versus Georgia Tech as a plebe in 2007.
Mealy broke off a career-long 75-yard run to convert a 3rd-and-10 in the fourth quarter. The play set up Army’s final touchdown which gave the Black Knights a 27-7 lead. His previous career best was a 31-yard scamper versus Georgia Tech in 2007.
Mealy’s 75-yard run is the 11th longest in Army history.
Mealy is the 95th player in Army history to record a 100-yard rushing game.
Mealy averaged 21.8 yards per carry against Eastern Michigan. It was the third-highest rushing average in a 100-yard rushing game in Army history. Rollie Stichweh holds the Academy record with 37.3 yards per carry against The Citadel on Sept. 19, 1964.
Mealy’s five carries are tied for the second-fewest attempts in an Army 100-yard rushing game. Stichweh rushed for 149 yards on four carries agaisnt the Citadel, while Eugene Filipski needed just five carries to reach 118 yards against Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, 1950.
DEFENSIVE LINE LEADS SACK ATTACK The defensive line tandem of junior DE Josh McNary and senior DT Victor Ugenyi combined for five of the Black Knights’ six sacks in the win at Eastern Michigan. Both players recorded a career-high 2.5 quarterback takedowns. Ugenyi also registered 2.5 sacks versus Buffalo last season.
The duo has been disrupting the opponent’s backfield since McNary was moved from linebacker to defensive end last season at Texas A&M. In the last 10 games, McNary and Ugenyi have combined for 15.0 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks.
Saturday’s performance at Eastern Michigan jumped both players into the upper echelon of Army’s all-time sacks list (recorded since 1992). Ugenyi is fourth all-time with 8.5 sacks, while McNary now sits tied for fifth with 8.0 sacks.
UP NEXT ... Army hosts Ball State on Sept. 19 at 12 p.m. The match-up with the Cardinals will be a rematch from the first game played on Blaik Field in 1999. 1947 Outland Trophy winner Joe Steffy’s No. 61 jersey will be retired in a ceremony at halftime. The first 5,000 fans will receive a Joe Steffy bobblehead.