Army stopped the Miami-Ohio RedHawks on the 1-yard-line going in with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, turning the RedHawks over on downs and setting up a 99 yard drive that would ultimately ice the game. The ensuing drive was super-impressive, but like a lot of yesterday’s contest, it felt like a struggle at times for all that the final statistics tell a story of total domination.
The Black Knights ran four straight Fullback Dives, including an uber-macho 4th-and-1 conversion on the Army 10 yard line to pick up the drive’s first 1st down. That gave the Black Knights enough space to work. Army was up by 14 points with a long field in front of them, and they finally had momentum on the side of their offensive line.
QB Christian Anderson threw incomplete on the ensuing play, and then WR Reikan Donaldson got trapped in the backfield on a reverse for an 8 yard loss. Army was in trouble, and if they’d had to punt, they’d have given Miami exactly the break the RedHawks needed to turn things around with plenty of time remaining on the clock. On 3rd-and-18, Anderson pulled the ball for a Quarterback Zone run, got trapped in the backfield, broke a tackle, reversed field, and then ran 42 yards for an epic first down — all the way to the Black Knights’ 46 yard line.
This was exactly what we’d seen all day up to that point. Army’s offense had played okay if somewhat inconsistently, but they’d been able to break enough long, game-breaking runs to not just get a lead but to actually control the flow of the game. From Miami’s perspective, their D-Line and leading LB Ivan Pace, Jr., had done a decent job controlling the Black Knights’ inside running game, but everytime Army had broken past initial contact, they’d taken the ball deep. This included two explosive scoring plays from Anderson to start the game. This particular play went exactly the same, and it allowed the Army Team to dig themselves out a deep hole on their own goal line, taking control of both the drive and the game. The Black Knights began grinding it out at that point, finishing this last massive drive with a 4 yard touchdown run from FB Anthony Adkins.
Final tally: 18 plays, 11:22 off the clock. Army 23, Miami-Ohio 3.
The game was essentially over, not that it had ever really been in doubt.
The Army offense finished with 63 carries for a whopping 384 yards. That stat-line is excellent, and it yields a very solid 6.1 yards/carry, but maybe three quarters of that yardage came off of long runs, mostly by Anderson. Despite the final statistics and the game’s overall feel, the Black Knights struggled to move the ball at times and wound up punting *5* times. They went just 8/18 on 3rd downs.
Army, usually the least explosive team on Earth, was either boom-or-bust in this game. They missed all 5 of their passing attempts, and they only really hit their typical, grinding triple-option stride once — on that long put-it-away drive. Beyond that, they managed a few long runs from Anderson, a few explosive plays from their slotbacks, especially Tyrell Robinson, and 28 grinding carries from their fullbacks. It was a magnificent performance in the sense that when things went right, they really, really went right. But it felt like this game shouldn’t have been as close as it was, too, because there were quite a few near-misses in there at inopportune times.
And yet, there really isn’t any room for complaint. As noted, 6.1 yards/carry is excellent. 384 yards of rushing is also excellent. And 39:36 time-of-possession? Yeah, that’s excellent, too. It went a little wacky, but at the end of the day, this was exactly what we wanted.
We got out to an early lead thanks to two long runs from Christian Anderson and the defense came to play in its 23-10 win over Miami (OH) on Saturday at Michie Stadium to move to 4-0 on the year. #GoArmy | #LastoftheHard pic.twitter.com/4o2xUt9FPa— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 26, 2021
Not all TDs are created equally. pic.twitter.com/o81vAMy3AN— Sons of Slum and Gravy (@OfSlumandGravy) September 25, 2021
Army’s defense was also excellent throughout this game. They held Miami’s run-first offense to just 28 yards rushing, forcing the RedHawks to go completely away from their typical playbook and to try to win this one through the air. That was never going to happen. QB Brett Gabbert went just 11/25 passing (44%), and though he threw for a long touchdown to a running back along the sideline late, outside of that one play, Miami’s offense was largely ineffective. Gabbert was fine when he had time in the pocket, but Army’s defense kept him running for his life for the vast majority of this game’s final three quarters. The RedHawks finished just 2/11 on 3rd downs and 1/2 on 4th downs. Army sacked Gabbert twice and intercepted 1 pass. This is notable because in their previous three games — including games against both Cincinnati and Minnesota — Miami had allowed exactly one sack. Army also blocked a punt and tipped another.
So yeah. This was total domination from Army’s defense and special teams.
This was a fun game. My buddy Chris came down from Ft. Lewis, and we met my classmate Ray along with Jordan’s parents out at my other friend Walt’s tailgate. Walt is a member of AFF’s Firstie Club; we’ve now tailgated together three times this season. It’s my turn again next time, and I’m already looking forward to it.
Next Week: Ball State
This has been a crazy season in college football. If you listen to the College Football Roundtable podcast, then you already know that we’ve had a *ton* of upsets out of the Top 25 this year. Well, the surprises continued yesterday as well. In fact, arguably Army’s biggest accomplishment this season has been beating the teams that they are supposed to beat.
Not every team has managed this feat in 2021.
The Ball State Cardinals are one of the biggest surprise disappointments of the year. Last year’s MAC Champions have gone just 1-3, having dropped games to Penn State, Wyoming, and now Toledo at home. Among other things, their offense just does not look right. With that, what was once expected to be a big-time showdown between two high-powered mid-majors has now been relegated to ESPN+. I don’t love it, but what can you do?
This is still likely to be a tough game, especially if QB Christian Anderson is out. You all know that I’m personally a big believer in Tyhier Tyler, but Anderson has been nothing short of spectacular this year. Even so, Army should win, but as we said, it’s been a wild season.
The Black Knights will need to play their very best ball to knock off a team that’s sure to be both desperate and hungry heading into conference play.