Army Game Notes
WEST POINT, N.Y. Tight end Justin Larson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and the Army defense held Rhode Island out of the end zone as the Black Knights battled for a 14-7 victory, Saturday in front of more than 27,000 fans at warm and hazy Michie Stadium.
Sophomore Carson Williams, into the game for the injured David Pevoto, rolled out to his right after Rhode Island won the overtime toss, and found Larson, who took it in the final five yards for his first touchdown of the season.
Rhode Island got inside the Army 4 after a long completion but John Wright, had a tackle for a loss and Caleb Campbell and Frank Scappaticci teamed for a tackle on second down. On third down, Brandon Thompson and Scappaticci both were credited with the tackle after a two-yard gain. Campbell stopped running back Jimmy Hughes for no gain on fourth down as Army improved to 1-1 and stopped a seven-game losing streak.
The win was the first for Army head coach Stan Brock.
“We are excited about our win. We don’t care who we play or what the score is. A win is a win and we’ll take every one of them,” said. Brock. “I must say the difference in this game was the Corps of Cadets. I think that having them there made all the difference in the world. They were strong through the whole game and they are a big part of this football team and a big reason why we won.”
Williams entered the game after Pevoto suffered an apparent leg injury in the second quarter and completed 12 of 20 passes for 148 yards in his first action of the season. Pevoto was 9 of 13 for 82 yards and an interception before being injured.
“(Offensive coordinator Tim) Coach Walsh put it on Wednesday and told us if we ever got a chance to run in that it was going to be money,” said Williams of the touchdown pass to Larson. “The way they cover it, it was going to be wide open. We called it and I started to remember us talking about it on Wednesday. I got out there and they lined up just like we had planned and I thought that if I gave it a good fake it was going to be a touchdown.”
Larson had three catches for a career-best 61 yards on the afternoon but none bigger the overtime grab. The touchdown gave Army its first lead of the game.
The defense then did the rest, stopping Rhode Island in front of the section of Michie Stadium where most of the Corps of Cadets was located.
“We have to get in the end zone on the fist play on the 4-yard line,” said Rhode Island coach Tim Stowers. “They made a good play and then they made a good play when we went outside too. On the last play, well, we scored on that play earlier but they made some changes and did things different that time around. They made a good call.”
Six different receivers caught passes for the Black Knights, including Jeremy Trimble who led the way with seven catches for 48 yards. Corey Anderson had five catches for 41 yards and Carlo Sandiego had four receptions for 52 yards.
“If it was a lesser quarterback who doesn’t have that character in him, we don’t win that game,” said Brock. “You’re bringing out a guy who has been sulking for two weeks. So a lot of that is just Carson and his makeup and the way he was raised.”
Wesley McMahand rushed for 44 yards on 14 carries with fullback Mike Viti had two rushes for five yards, including a touchdown run.
Rhode Island’s Joe Casey led all rushers with 107 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Derek Cassidy connected on 11 of 13 passes for 145 yards. Shawn Leonard caught eight passes for 113 yards while Tim Allen had three catches for 32 yards.
Scappaticci had 10 tackles to pace the Army defense while Victor Ugenyi had nine tackles, including three tackles for a loss. Campbell had seven tackles and forced a fumble and ended the game by driving fullback Jimmy Hughes out of bounds, two yards short of the end zone.
Jeff Bell and Ki’Ameer Johnson each had six tackles to lead the Rams’ defense.
Rhode Island, coming off a last-minute loss to Fordham last week, jumped on the scoreboard first with a second-quarter touchdown. Following an Army punt, Rhode Island went 80 yards in 11 plays with Tim Allen capping the drive with a five-yard scoring run. Bryan Giannecchini kicked the point after for a 7-0 Rhode Island lead with 1:37 left in the first half.
“There was no doubt (we would win),” said Ugenyi. “Coach told us from the beginning that bad stuff happens and you just have to believe. That one of our mottos believe the man next to you is going to do his job and that you’re going to do yours.”
Army tied the contest on its first possession of the second half. Jordan Murray forced a fumble on a rushing play and Brandon Thompson recovered at the Army 48 yard line.
Five plays later, the game was tied. McMahand rushed for 20 yards on the three carries and Williams found Larson for a 30-yard gain to put the ball at the 2. Viti then bulled his way in and Adam DeMarco kicked the PAT to knot the game at 7 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Each team had a chance to kick a field goal to break the tie but both kickers missed. DeMarco was wide right on a 39-yard attempt in the third quarter and Giannecchini was wide left on a 33-yard attempt on the next possession, forcing the extra session.
Army improved to 1-1 and will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. next weekend to take on defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest.