Football Hosts VMI On Military Appreciation Day Saturday

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team will play its first home game in four weeks on Saturday afternoon when the Black Knights welcome VMI to Michie Stadium. Kickoff for the contest is set for noon.

It will be Military Appreciation Day at West Point and all military personnel and their families will be afforded the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to the game for only $10.

The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network with Dave Ryan (play by play), Jason Sehorn (color analyst) and Cadet Nolan Melson (sideline reporter) calling the action. A live video stream of the broadcast will be available via CBS College Sports XXL (

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), Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 152) and ITT 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.

Army (4-3) has not played since suffering a 23-20 overtime setback to Rutgers two weeks ago. The Black Knights led 17-3 after three quarters only to see the Scarlet Knights force overtime with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. Then, after an Alex Carlton field goal gave Army a 20-17 lead in the extra session, Joe Martinek scored on a one-yard run to give Rutgers the victory.

VMI (3-4) comes into Saturday's game after defeating Charleston Southern, 34-16, last weekend. The Keydets outscored the Buccaneers, 17-0, in the fourth quarter to open up a close game and seal the victory.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson is in his second season leading the Black Knights. He has guided Army to a 4-3 mark through seven games this season after posting a 5-7 record last year. He currently holds a 9-10 mark at West Point. Sparky Woods is in his third season as the head coach at VMI. He has led the Keydets to a 9-20 record since taking over the reins of the program prior to the 2008 season.

Army and VMI have met 14 times previously in a series that dates back to 1917. The Black Knights have controlled the series, having won 13 of the first 14 matchups. Army secured a 22-17 victory over VMI last season. The Black Knights scored the go-ahead touchdown on Patrick Mealy's 17-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to avert the Keydets' upset bid.

Army's offense continues to excel in 2010 and the Black Knights enter Saturday's matchup with VMI averaging 30.6 points per game. The Black Knights' triple option attack, which is directed by sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman, has been humming all season long. Through seven games, the Army rushing offense ranks eighth in the nation with 276.4 yards per contest. The Black Knights have eclipsed the 200-yard barrier on the ground in every game this season, including a pair of 300-yard performances.  

Army has already scored 24 rushing touchdowns through seven games after totaling just 13 ground scores in 2009. The Black Knights' 28 total TDs have already surpassed last year's season total of 19.

Army has four players averaging more than 40 rushing yards per game, led by sophomore fullback Jared Hassin (73.0 yards/game). Hassin, who has scored seven rushing touchdowns on the season, has topped the 100-yard plateau in each of the team's last two games.

Against Rutgers, both Hassin and Steelman went over 100 yards, giving Army two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 1999.

Steelman, who is averaging 65.3 rushing yards per game, has scored a team-high eight rushing touchdowns on the year. Sophomore slotback Malcolm Brown (44.0 yards/game) and senior slotback Patrick Mealy (40.8) have been productive on the ground as well.

Steelman has increased his efficiency throwing the ball this season.  He is completing over 56 percent of his passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns this fall. His top target in the passing game of late has been junior wide receiver Austin Barr, who enters Saturday's game versus VMI leading the Black Knights in receptions (10), receiving yards (143) and receiving touchdowns (two).

Junior wide receiver Davyd Brooks (seven receptions, 93 yards) and sophomore wide out George Jordan (six receptions, 62 yards) have developed into reliable options in the passing game as well.

The VMI offense is averaging 18.4 points per game. The Keydets are led by redshirt-junior quarterback Cameron Jones, who has thrown for 746 yards and four touchdowns. Redshirt-junior running back Chaz Jones is VMI's top option on the ground, having rushed for 213 yards and four scores in six games.

Junior wide receiver T.J. Talley (23 receptions, 245 yards) and senior wide out Mario Scott (19 catches, 254 yards) are the Keydets most prolific receivers. Scott leads the team with three receiving touchdowns.

Army's defense, which recorded an Academy-record eight sacks against Rutgers two weeks ago, is yielding just 23.9 points per game. The Black Knights defense is an opportunistic unit which ranks second nationally in turnover margin (1.57) and 16th in the country in turnovers gained (17).

Senior linebacker Stephen Anderson leads the Black Knights' defense with 49 tackles, including five tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Steve Erzinger, who posted a career-high 14 stops against Rutgers, ranks second on the team with 44 tackles. Senior defensive end Josh McNary tops the team in tackles for loss (12.0) and quarterback sacks (9.5), while listing third in total tackles (36). McNary and Erzinger combined for 4.0 quarterback sacks against Rutgers.

The VMI defense, which is giving up 28.0 points per game and 352.6 yards of total offense per contest, is paced by redshirt-junior A.J. Gross (68 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss). The Keydets' have intercepted seven passes and recovered four fumbles.

Army will close out its 2010 home slate next Saturday (Nov. 6) when the Black Knights host service academy rival Air Force at Michie Stadium. The Army Athletic Association will be honoring Army's 1985 Peach Bowl team during the game and the first 5,000 ticketed fans will receive a print of the team photo upon entering the stadium gates. The game, which is slated to kick off at noon, will be broadcast live nationally by CBS College Sports Network.

Single-game tickets for the Army-VMI contest are currently on sale at the Army Ticket Office, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or online at Tickets for the Army-Air Force game have been sold out.

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