Black Knights Score 17-13 Win At North Texas

Final Statistics: Army 17, North Texas 13

Army Postgame Notes

DENTON, Texas – Freshman QB Trent Steelman’s two-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left in the game capped a wild final eight minutes and gave the Black Knights a 17-13 win over North Texas on Saturday evening at Fouts Field. The victory improved Army’s record to 5-6 on the season and kept alive its hopes for a berth in the 2009 Eagle Bank Bowl. The Mean Green dropped their third straight and now stand at 2-9 for the season.

Army led 10-7 in the fourth quarter, but Lance Dunbar went 68 yards untouched to give the Mean Green a 13-10 lead with 7:11 to go in the game. The PAT was no good to keep the lead at only a field goal. Army turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, but the defense stiffened to force a 33-yard field goal attempt. Junior DE Marcus Hilton blocked the kick and sophomore LB Steve Erzinger returned it to the Army 38-yard line. On the Black Knights’ first play of the drive, Steelman broke a tackle and went 55 yards down the left sideline to the North Texas’ 2-yard line. Two plays later, he punched it into the end zone and Carlton’s PAT provided the winning margin.

North Texas had one more shot with the ball at its own 30-yard line and one time out. Riley Dodge completed his 31st pass of the day that gave the Mean Green a first down near midfield, but his next pass was intercepted by rookie DB Ty Shrader. Army took a knee three times and punted on the final play of the game.

Shrader’s interception was one of five Army takeaways on the day, including three interceptions. The Mean Green outgained the Black Knights 447-287. Army, who entered the game averaging 213.3 yards per game, rushed for 200 yards, including 164 in the second half.

Steelman finished with 132 yards rushing on 23 carries. It was his second 100-yard game of the season. He completed 7-of-15 passes for 87 yards. Senior WR Alejandro Villanueva caught five passes for 77 yards. Junior SB Patrick Mealy rushed for 35 yards on nine carries.

Dodge was 31-for-41 passing for 225 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. He also rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries. Dunbar finished the day with 132 yards on only 13 rushing attempts. Darius Carey led the receiving corps with nine catches for 67 yards.

Junior DB Jordan Trimble led the Army defense with 11 tackles and in interception. Senior Chase Prasnicki had seven stops in place of junior DB Donovan Travis who was injured in the first quarter.

Shrader, Trimble and sophomore LB Andrew Rodriguez each recorded an interception for the Black Knights. Shrader also recovered a fumble, as did Erzinger.

Adryan Adams led the Mean Green with 10 tackles.

North Texas received the opening kickoff, and following punts by both teams, the Mean Green took over at their own 16-yard line. UNT marched 84 yards on 14 plays, taking 7:12 off the first quarter clock. Dodge hit Jackson with a four-yard touchdown pass to put North Texas on top. The PAT was good, giving the Mean Green a 7-0 lead with 4:50 to go in the first quarter.

The Black Knights picked up their initial first down of the game on their next drive, but were again forced to punt. After good punt coverage by Army, North Texas took over at its own 23-yard line. The Mean Green drove into Army territory, but a tackle for loss by McNary forced the Mean Green to punt. Army took over at its own 11-yard line, but could only move the ball two yards on three plays and again punted the ball away.

North Texas started the ensuing possession at the Army 46-yard line, but on 3rd-and-18 following a personal foul penalty, Andrew Rodriguez stepped in front of a Dodge pass at the 11-yard line and returned it 33 to the Black Knights’ 44-yard line. Army moved the ball to the Mean Green 21-yard line before the drive stalled. Alex Carlton put the Black Knights on the board with a 38-yard field, cutting the deficit to 7-3 with 6:36 left in the second quarter.

Army forced its second straight turnover on the Mean Green’s next drive. North Texas moved the ball inside the 20-yard line, but Donnie Dixon forced a fumble that Ty Shrader, playing in his first game, recovered at the Army 19-yard line. The Black Knights could not take advantage, going three-and-out.

North Texas again appeared poised to extend its lead, but penalties and a 13-yard sack by McNary on the last play of the half took the Mean Green out of scoring position.

Army trailed by only four points at the half despite being outgained 241-53, including a 172-17 deficit through the air. North Texas committed six penalties for 45 yards and turned the ball over twice in the first 20 minutes to help keep Army down less than a touchdown. Dodge completed 26-of-32 passes for 172 yards and rushed for another 62 yards on 12 carries in the first two quarters. The Mean Green held the ball for 20:50 of the first 30 minutes. Mealy led the Black Knights with 20 rushing yards on four carries. Steelman was 1-for-6 passing with a 17-yard completion to Villanueva.

The Black Knights received the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 69 yards on 14 plays, taking 7:05 off the third-quarter clock. Mealy took an option pitch from Steelman and went in from nine yards out to give Army its first lead of the game. Carlton’s PAT made the score 10-7 with 7:55 left in the third quarter. The Black Knights were able to convert their first third down of the day after starting 0 for 5. Steelman’s pass was tipped, but Villanueva snared the ball out of the air to move the chains and give Army a first down at its own 44-yard line. Army carried the momentum and went 3 for 3 on third downs on the drive. The Black Knights’ 61 rushing yards, including 37 yards on eight carries by Steelman, topped their total from the first two quarters.

The Black Knights defense again played bend, but don’t break. North Texas drove inside the Army 30-yard line, but Erzinger forced a fumble by Dodge and recovered it to set Army up at its own 20-yard line.  Steelman found Villanueva on third down, but he came up a yard short of the marker, forcing a punt. North Texas took over at its own 45-yard line with 2:26 left in the quarter.

After Dodge scrambled for a first down, the Mean Green went to the air, but Dodge threw his second interception of the game. Jordan Trimble came from his safety spot to make a leaping grab at the Army 16-yard line with 1:11 left in the quarter.

The Black Knights were able to move into Mean Green territory, but an illegal block pushed the ball back to the Army 43-yard line. The Black Knights crossed the 50-yard line again, but could not covert a 3rd-and-11 from the Mean Green 45-yard line. Jonathan Bulls hit his best punt of the day, forcing North Texas to start from its own 4-yard line with 13:19 left in the fourth quarter.

Dunbar started North Texas’ drive with a 22-yard carry out to the Mean Green’s 26-yard line. A 20-yard completion moved the ball into Army territory, but the drive stalled and after a Mean Green punt, Army took over at its own 11-yard line. The Black Knights moved the chains once before a Bulls’ punt gave North Texas the ball at its own 32-yard line with 7:21 to go in the fourth quarter.

The Mean Green needed only one play to retake the lead. Dunbar went 68 yards untouched up the middle to put NorthTexas back in front 13-10. The PAT was no good to keep the lead at a field goal with 7:11 left.

Army was faced with a long-yardage situation after two penalties. The Black Knights’ third-down play, a completion to Villanueva, came up short, and the Black Knights decided to go for it on 4th down from their own 35-yard line. Steelman was stopped short on an option, turning the ball over to the Mean Green and setting up the final sequence.

Army’s five wins are the most for the program since the 1996 squad went 10-2. The victory set up a showdown with arch-rival Navy on Dec. 12 that would put the Black Knights into the Eagle Bank Bowl with a win.

The Black Knights have two bye weeks before squaring off with the Mids. The 110th version of America’s Game presented by USAA will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

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