Defense Shuts Door in Sprint Football Opener


WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army sprint football team used a stifling defense in the first half and got its offense going over the final 30 minutes to cruise to a season-opening 29-0 shutout of visiting Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham junior varsity squad on Sunday at Shea Stadium.

Although the two teams combined for 26 penalties totaling 249 yards, it was the Army defense that kept the Devils off the board for the duration, as the Black Knights' stop unit recorded 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, and generated five turnovers, including four interceptions. For the game, Army held FDU to a scant 61 yards of total offense and limited the Devils' ground game to negative 23 yards.

The swarming Army defense secured the game's only points of the first half to make the best of a special teams miscue. After the Devils blocked their second Army field goal attempt of the half and recovered the loose ball deep in their own territory, the Black Knights returned the favor by breaking through the FDU offensive line on back-to-back plays for a safety. Robby Mandel's first down stop backed the Devils up to their own 1-yard line, with Clayton Rife and Tyler Bambrick bringing down the FDU ball carrier in the end zone on second down to give Army the lead, 2-0.

Led by freshman quarterback Tim Meier, Army's offense erupted in the second half for 27 points while the defense held the door shut on FDU. Meier, who completed 5-of-15 pass attempts for a meager 18 yards in the first half, dissected the FDU defense in the second half for 132 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-8 attempts to close the game. Senior captain Ricky Lentz added three rushing touchdowns, two of which came in the final stanza, and finished the game with 110 yards on 20 carries.

Army, which failed to turn any of its seven first half possessions into points, registered touchdowns on five of its final seven drives to put the game out of reach.

Coming out of the locker room, the Black Knights took an 8-0 lead on a 40-yard connection from Meier to Stephen Hagy before Lentz plunged into the end zone from four yards out to give Army a 15-0 cushion.  Playing in FDU territory for much of the second half, Army turned an interception into a scoring drive, before Lentz's final TD run of the day gave Army the final margin midway through the fourth.

Carlos Cook led all tacklers with 10 hits and also forced and recovered a first-quarter fumble. Thomas Malejko and Matthew Talley were credited with two tackles for loss. Senior safety Taylor Griffin made two interceptions, while JP Cooper and Joe Simon each picked off a pass for the Black Knights.

Army (1-0) will hit the road to take on R.P.I. in Troy, N.Y. at 2 p.m. next Sunday.

Notes: On average, the Devils (204 lbs.) outweighed Army by a significant margin ... As a 'heavyweight' junior varsity team, FDU was not subject to the Collegiate Sprint Football League's 172 lbs. restriction ... Army sprint football coach Mark West is 2-0 in season-openers against the Devils, as Army earned a 27-7 win last season ... The cadet parachute team performed for the crowd at halftime, jumping from over 4,000 feet to touch down on the Army logo at midfield.

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