Oct. 25, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team returns to the friendly confines of Michie Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27, to begin a brief two-game homestand versus Mid-American Conference opponent Ball State. Kickoff is slated for 12 p.m.
It will be Scout Day at Michie Stadium on Saturday, and discounted tickets will be available for all scouts. Additionally, the first 3,000 fans through the turnstiles at Michie Stadium will receive a Black Knight Build-a-Bear. Finally, an autograph session with members of the Army football team will be conducted inside Gate 1 following the game.
CBS Sports Network will broadcast Saturday's contest to a national audience with Ben Holden (play by play), Randy Cross (color analyst) and West Point Cadet Geoff Easterling (sideline reporter) calling the action.
The Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on its flagship station WABC (770-AM), as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM), SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Sirius channel 134/XM channel 193) and Knight Vision. Rich DeMarco (play by play), Dean Darling (color analyst) and Tony Morino (sideline reporter) will cover the game on the Army Sports Network.
Live statistics for the contest will be offered via GameTracker by logging onto Army's official athletics website (www.goARMYsports.com). In-game Twitter updates will also be provided from the Black Knights' official football handle (@Army_Football). A live blog will also be provided.
Army fell to 1-6 on the season following last week's 48-38 loss at Eastern Michigan. The Black Knights racked up 413 yards rushing versus the Eagles, but EMU quarterback Tyler Benz threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns to direct Eastern Michigan to its first victory of the season.
Ball State, meanwhile, is coming off a 41-30 road victory over Central Michigan last Saturday. Junior quarterback Keith Wenning threw for 231 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, and sophomore running back Jahwan Edwards ran for 128 yards as the Cardinals outlasted the feisty Chippewas to improve to 5-3 on the year.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson, who is in his fourth season at West Point, owns a 16-28 record as the Black Knights mentor. Ellerson, who was the head coach at Cal Poly for eight years before becoming the Army field general, boasts a 76-69 career record. He is 1-1 all-time versus Ball State, having led Army to a 24-17 victory over the Cardinals in 2009.
Ball State head coach Pete Lembo, who is in his second season directing the Cardinals, carries a 90-45 career record into Saturday's contest. Lembo, who previously served as head coach at Lehigh and Elon, shows an 11-9 mark at Ball State. He is 1-0 all-time versus Army, having guided the Cardinals to their first-ever win over the Black Knights last season.
Army and Ball State will be clashing for just the fourth time in series history when the two schools meet on Saturday. The Black Knights won the first two meetings, but the Cardinals secured a 48-21 decision last season in Muncie, Ind.
Army, which has surpassed the 400-yard plateau on the ground four times this season, continues to lead the nation in rushing, averaging more than 389 yards per contest. The Black Knights' prolific rushing attack is paced by junior running back Raymond Maples, who leads Army and ranks 19th nationally with 112.7 yards per game.
Senior quarterback Trent Steelman, who rushed for a career-high 212 yards and two touchdowns at Eastern Michigan last week, averages 101.3 rushing yards per game. Steelman, who smoothly operates Army's sophisticated triple option attack, has also scored a team-high 10 rushing touchdowns this season. Sophomore fullback Larry Dixon, who is expected to return to the field this Saturday after missing last week's game at EMU, ranks third on the team with 82.3 yards per game.
Steelman is also completing 44.0 percent of his passes for 356 yards and one touchdown this season. One of his favorite targets in the passing game is sophomore wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence, who paces the Black Knights with 11 receptions for 205 yards. Junior wide receiver Patrick Lairdranks second on the team with eight receptions and 101 receiving yards.
Army's defense, which is allowing more than 466 yards of total offense and nearly 38 points per game this season, will try to slow down a Ball State offense that is racking up better than 480 yards of total offense and more than 34 points per contest.
Sophomore linebacker Geoffery Bacon, who matched his career high with 14 tackles versus Eastern Michigan last Saturday, leads Army's defensive unit with 76 tackles. He enters the weekend ranked tied for ninth nationally in tackles per game (10.71).
Freshman safety Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires lists second on the squad with 50 tackles. Freshman linebacker Alex Meier, who recorded his first career interception last week at EMU, ranks third on the team with 35 stops.
Wenning, who is completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 2,236 yards and 15 touchdowns, directs Ball State's high octane offense. The Cardinals are a balanced outfit that averages 281 passing yards per game and 199 rushing yards per contest.
Edwards, who has piled up three 100-yard rushing games this season, is closing in on a 1,000-yard rushing season. He enters Saturday's tilt leading BSU with 801 yards and eight touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver Willie Snead leads the Ball State receiving corps with 62 receptions, 823 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The second-year playmaker ranks among the top 15 nationally in both receptions per game (eighth, 7.75) and receiving yards per contest (12th, 102.88). Junior wide out Jamill Smith, meanwhile, ranks second on the squad with 54 catches for 583 yards and three TDs.
Senior linebacker Travis Freeman, who has recorded a team-high 83 tackles this season, paces a Ball State defense that is allowing 476 yards of total offense and nearly 35 points per contest. The Cardinals have yielded at least 24 points in every game this season. Junior defensive end Jonathan Newsome paces BSU with 7.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks.
Following Saturday's game versus Ball State, Army hosts Air Force at Michie Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 3. The contest is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m.