WEST POINT, N.Y. - Coming off of a stirring overtime win over Vanderbilt, the Army football team (3-3) will hit the road to take on Temple (3-2, 3-0 MAC). Kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Army raised its record to 3-3 on the season with a 16-13 victory against the Commodores last weekend. Sophomore kicker Alex Carlton sealed the win with a 42-yard kick that caromed off the right upright, after junior linebacker Alex Rodriguez forced a Vanderbilt fumble on the Commodores' first possession of the extra frame.
On the other side, the Owls have won three in a row after starting the season 0-2 with losses to Villanova (27-24) and at Penn State (31-6). They have since rebounded with wins against Buffalo (37-13), at Eastern Michigan (24-12) and versus Ball State (24-19). Temple and Army share a pair of common opponents. Each squad has scored wins at Eastern Michigan and home wins versus Ball State.
The Black Knights and Owls will meet for just the seventh time on Saturday. Army holds a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series. When the teams last met in Philadelphia in 1993, Army posted a convincing 56-21 victory, capping a string of three consecutive victories against the Owls. Army hosted Temple in the season opener for both squads last season with Temple picking up a 35-7 decision.
Saturday's game will also mark the third and final Mid-American Conference opponent on Army's 2009 schedule. The Black Knights are 2-0 so far this season, defeating Eastern Michigan, 27-14, and Ball State, 24-17.
"If we don't improve, if we don't do those things (that help us win), we're in trouble because we're playing another quality opponent," said first-year Army head coach Rich Ellerson. "Again we have our hands full and it's a little bit of an uphill climb, but one we're anxious to get into."
Although the contest will not be televised, the Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on flagship station WABC (770-AM) as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM), XM (channel 104) and Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 156). In-game Twitter updates (twitter.com/ArmyAthletics) and a Spanish language Army radio call (WNSW 1430-AM) will provide another avenue for fans to follow the action. A video stream on ITT KnightVision, accompanied by the Temple radio crew's broadcast, will also be available.
A look at the matchups:
Army freshman quarterback Trent Steelman continued his development against the Commodores, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, all career-best numbers. It was the second straight game the rookie signal caller approached the century mark after running for 95 yards in the loss to Tulane.
Temple redshirt junior QB Vaughn Charlton has completed 66-of-126 passes for 926 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-4, 235 pounder went 17-of-30 for 186 yards and touchdown in his team's win over Ball State last week.
IN THE BACKFIELD
Junior Patrick Mealy has been back at slotback the last two games after starting at fullback in the game at Iowa State. Mealy is Army's leading rusher with 351 yards (58.5/game). Mealy has gained the most yards despite ranking third on the team with 46 rushing attempts. His 7.63 yards per carry is the fourth highest among the top 100-ranked rushers in the nation.
For the Owls, freshman running back Bernard Peirce has notched three straight 100-yard performances, marking the first time a Temple freshman has recorded more than one 100-yard outing since the Owls began Division 1-A competition in 1971.
Alejandro Villanueva still ranks as the Black Knights' top threat should Army put the ball in the air. The 6-10 senior had his three-game streak with at least two receptions and one touchdown stopped in the loss to Tulane when he was kept off the stat sheet. While not catching a pass last week against Vanderbilt either, the Black Knights threw his way several times, and he drew a pass interference penalty on Army's lone touchdown drive. Senior WR Damion Hunter took over the team lead in receptions with a career-high five catch day in the win over Vanderbilt.
Combination RB/WR Joe Jones has emerged as Temple's leader with 190 yards on 14 receptions. In the win at EMU, Jones made two catches for eight yards. In the win over Buffalo, he had a 22-yard reception. At No. 5 Penn State, he led all receivers with 75 yards on four catches. Junior Michael Campbell follows with 162 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches.
Army deployed its fourth different starting combination on the offensive line in the win over Vanderbilt. Junior Anees Merzi and senior Fritz Bentler drew their first starts of the season at left tackle and guard, respectively, while Zach Peterson, Seth Reed, and Jason Johnson held down the center, right guard, and right tackle positions for the sixth straight game. Army's offensive line has now had seven players make their first career starts this season.
Temple's offensive line returns five starters with experience from 2008 in senior LT Devin Tyler (6-7, 305), sophomore LG Wayne Tribue (6-4, 320), redshirt sophomore C John Palumbo (6-6, 308), junior RG Colin Madison (6-4, 315)/sophomore Steve Caputo (6-5, 315), and junior RT Darius Morris (6-4, 315). Caputo and Tribue started last year as true freshmen.
Through its first six games in its new defensive system, Army ranks 28th in the nation in total defense, giving up 300.0 yards per game. That figure includes a season-high 376 yards allowed at Iowa State. The Black Knights are ranked 40th in the nation in rushing defense at 119.0 yards per game. While DT Victor Ugenyi has supplied plenty of pressure since the season opener at EMU, he has not registered a sack in the last four games. Defensive end Josh McNary, however, has added three more for a team-high 5.5 on the season, already surpassing his team-high total from 2008.
Senior DT Andre Neblett, a Temple team captain and three-year starter, anchors an experienced defensive line. Sophomore Muhammad Wilkerson holds down the other tackle spot. Sophomore Adrian Robinson and Junior Elisha Joseph return to their starting role, sharing time at left end. Robinson leads the down linemen with 22 tackles, including a team-best 5.0 TFL, a team-best five sacks, three breakups, and two hurries.
Entering the season, Army had to replace two of its starting linebackers, and through the first six games it appears it has found a pair of keepers. Sophomore whip LB Andrew Rodriguez and sophomore rover LB Steve Erzinger are ranked third and fifth, respectively, on Army's tackle list. Rodriguez has 36 stops, while Erzinger has 30 tackles. Junior Mike linebacker Stephen Anderson is Army's leading tackler with 51 total tackles. He also paces the Black Knights with 31 solo tackles. His 8.5 tackles per game is tied for 61st in the nation.
Temple returns two starting linebackers- senior Alex Joseph and junior Elijah "Peanut" Joseph. Alex Joseph is tied for second in team tackling with 26 takedowns, including 18 solos. Peanut Joseph has 23 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and two sacks in five games. Joseph recorded six solo takedowns, a sack, and a forced fumble in the win over Ball State.
Junior FS Donovan Travis added to his team-leading interception total with a pick in the win against Vanderbilt. Travis now has four interceptions on the season. He made one in the opener against Eastern Michigan and added two in the win over Ball State. Against Ball State, Travis' second interception was a pick-six in the fourth quarter that provided the winning margin in Army's 24-17 victory. In the Vanderbilt game, Travis' interception put Army in position to kick a field goal that snapped a 10-10 tie in the fourth quarter.
For the Owls, S Jaiquan Jarrett has a team-best 27 tackles. In the win over Ball State, he had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Kevin Kroboth stands tied for second in team tackles with 26, including a team-best 19 solo takedowns. He had eight tackles in the win at EMU and four solo takedowns against Buffalo. Senior DB Dominique Harris has nine career picks including one of four Temple INTs last week.
Just one week after missing a 37-yard field goal attempt with only 12 seconds left in Army's 17-16 loss to Tulane, sophomore K Alex Carlton drilled a 42-yarder in overtime to clinch the Black Knights' 16-13 overtime win over Vanderbilt. The winning kick was Carlton's third of the day.
Junior P Jonathan Bulls has dropped at least one boot inside the 20-yard line in all six of the Black Knights' games this season. He has a total of 13 kicks downed inside the opposition's 20-yard line.
Freshman Brandon McManus is the first kicker to be recruited for a scholarship under Temple head coach Al Golden. He handled kickoff duties, and put the Owls on the scoreboard with a field goal and three extra points.
In five games, Jeff Wathne has 628 yards on 17 punts (36.9 average) with six fair catches and four punts landing inside the 20 for the Owls.
Army will host its only home night game of the 2009 slate, an 8 p.m. matchup with Rutgers, next Friday, Oct. 23.