WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team takes to the road for the first time in four weeks this Saturday when the Black Knights travel to Kent, Ohio, for a pivotal game versus Kent State University. Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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 157) 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 (5-4) comes into Saturday's matchup following a 42-22 setback to Air Force last Saturday. The Black Knights held a 6-0 lead after the first quarter, but the Falcons exploded for 21 points in the second quarter to seize control of the contest. A defensive touchdown early in the fourth quarter all but sealed the game for Air Force. The Black Knights have alternated wins and losses over their last six games, and they will hope to continue that trend and get back on the winning track this week.
Kent State (4-5) had won two straight games before suffering a 28-10 home defeat at the hands of Temple last Saturday. The Golden Flashes, who have not played in a bowl game since dropping a 21-18 decision to Tampa in the 1972 Tangerine Bowl, need to win two of their final three games to attain bowl eligibility.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson is in the midst of his second season leading the Black Knights. He has guided Army to a 5-4 this season after posting a 5-7 record last year. Ellerson, who holds a 10-11 mark at West Point, has Army one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since the 1996 team played in the Independence Bowl.
Doug Martin is in his seventh season directing the Kent State football program. He has led the Golden Flashes to a mark of 28-51 since taking over the reins of the Mid-American Conference school prior to the 2004 season.
Army and Kent State have met just once previously, with the Black Knights securing a 17-14 overtime victory at West Point during the 2006 campaign.
Army's offense, which has scored at least 20 points each of its first nine games, is averaging 29.4 points per game. The Black Knights do the bulk of their work on the ground via their prolific triple option offense. Army enters Saturday's action ranked eighth nationally in rushing yards per game, averaging 277.2 yards per contest.
Army has surpassed the 200-yard plateau in each of its nine games this season, including three 300-yard performances. Sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman, who has rushed for 559 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns through nine games, directs the Black Knights' triple option attack.
Sophomore fullback Jared Hassin, who has tied an Academy record with four straight 100-yard rushing games, tops the Black Knights with 783 rushing yards and lists second on the team with eight rushing touchdowns. His 87.0 yards-per-game average currently ranks 39th in the nation.
Steelman, who has thrown for five touchdowns this fall, has developed into an efficient passer this season. Junior wide receiver Austin Barr has emerged as Steelman's top target in the passing game, leading the Black Knights in receptions (13), receiving yards (163) and receiving touchdowns (three). He hauled in a nine-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter of Army's loss to Air Force last Saturday.
Hassin (nine receptions, 127 receiving yards) and junior wide receiver Davyd Brooks (eight receptions, 115 receiving yards) have been consistent contributors in the passing offense as well.
Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith leads the Kent State offense, which is averaging 21.9 points per game. Keith, who will be a game-time decision after injuring his thumb in the fourth quarter of last week's game versus Temple, has thrown for 1,773 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Senior wide receiver Sam Kirkland (43 receptions, 493 receiving yards) and sophomore wide out Tyshon Goode (42 receptions, 451 receiving yards) are the Golden Flashes' top two playmakers. Goode tops the team with four touchdown catches.
Junior running back Jacquise Terry paces Kent State's ground game with 498 rushing yards and six rushing TDs this fall. The Golden Flashes, who prefer to throw the football, are averaging just 95.1 rushing yards per game.
The Army defense is ranked 24th in the nation in total defense, allowing 320.0 yards of total offense per contest. The Black Knights, who feature the 20th-best pass defense in the country, rank 11th in the nation in turnover margin (0.89) and 33rd in turnovers gained (18).
Senior linebacker Stephen Anderson leads the Black Knights' defense with 65 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive end Josh McNary, meanwhile, tops the team with 12 tackles for loss and 9.5 quarterback sacks. He is tied for eighth in the nation with 1.06 sacks per game, while listing tied for 30th with 1.33 tackles for loss per contest.
Senior defensive back Donovan Travis leads the Black Knights' secondary with three interceptions.
Kent State's defense enters Saturday's game ranked first in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 69.3 rushing yards per contest. The Golden Flashes, who allow just 20.7 points per game, are listed ninth nationally in total defense (298.8 yards allowed per game).
Senior linebacker Dorian Wood tops the Golden Flashes with 68 tackles, while freshman defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix leads the team with 8.5 quarterback sacks and 17.0 tackles for loss. Nix lists third in the country with 1.89 tackles for loss per game, while ranking 11th among all FCS players with 0.94 sacks per game.
Junior defensive back Norman Wolfe paces the Golden Flashes and ranks tied for fifth nationally with five interceptions.
Following Saturday's game at Kent State, Army travels to Bronx, N.Y., to tangle with long-time rival Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. Kickoff for the contest, which will be televised live by NBC, is scheduled for 7 p.m.