That was a great win. Maybe not pretty but amazing nonetheless. Especially since it came against a sister service academy, and it meant we’ll retain the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy at West Point for another year. Army Head Coach Jeff Monken is now 8-7 in CiC games, officially over .500 for the first time. Army has won 8 of their last 10 rivalry games and for the fourth time in five years, the Commander in Chief’s trophy will call the banks of the Hudson home.
That ain’t bad.
Both Dan and I were lucky enough to attend the game this weekend, but since Dan had to hop on a plane early this morning, I’ll be taking this week’s recap.
Say what you will about football in a baseball stadium, the actual gameday experience was delightful. We ended up staying just north in Irving. We were supposed to be half mile from the stadium, but our Airbnb host cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. We would up carpooling with some friends to the game and had our fair share of mimosas before it was time to head in.
In that, this felt like an honest-to-God service academy rivalry game. We saw giant tailgates everywhere, and we ran into lots of my classmates and company mates all over that place. That was awesome. The Army faithful clearly showed up in droves. Truth is, I typically hate watching football games in baseball stadia, but this particular stadium redesigned itself to improve the football experience, and in that, they succeeded.
We were on the 50 yard line in the second deck. Unfortunately, that put us about 50 yards removed from the sideline. However, the second deck was not far removed from the first deck, so our overall view was surprisingly good. The only weird thing was all the open space between the sidelines and the Army faithful. But what can you do?
All things considered, tickets sold well. Over 35,500 people showed up. There were more empty seats on the Air Force side, but even the Zoomies filled at least two-thirds of their allotted seats. Stadium capacity is 40,300, so it was a pretty full overall. Still, the last time the Army-Air Force game had this few fans was in 2006 when Army was 3-6 and Air Force was 3-4 going into the game.
Maybe next year will be a sellout.
Like I said in the preview, the first half of this game was destined to be boring. The only things of note were an Army missed field goal, and Air Force not converting a 4th down. Every other drive ended with a punt or walking into the locker room. But neither team could afford to get behind the scoring schedule. Plus, it’s a lot easier for coaches to explain why their teams didn’t take risks early rather than why they did take risks that cost the them a win. Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun took some risks early last year, for instance, and that didn’t exactly go his way.
But. After the snooze fest of a first half, things got going quickly for Army in the 3rd quarter. A good Tyrell Robinson return and a great Tyrell Robinson reception set the Black Knights up in the red zone. QB Tyhier Tyler capped off the drive with a 9 yard TD rush, aided by tremendous blocking from his O-Line.
The ensuing Air Force drive stalled out just outside the redzone when Army’s rush defense forced a 4th & 9. Air Force settled for 3 to make it a 4 point game.
Brent Davis then channeled his inner Mike Leach and Anderson threw a dime to Robertson for a 79 yard TD, 14-3.
After a touchdown and 2 point conversion, Air Force found themselves with the ball down 3 with a chance to win or tie. On a somewhat questionable block below the waist penalty, the Falcons were forced to settle for overtime, the first ever in this series.
In overtime, we all saw Anderson’s fortuitous fumble recovered for a touchdown by LT Jordyn “Boobie” Law. The ball bounced the only way that it possibly could have to avert disaster. One more inch forward, and it was a touchback. One less inch to the left, and it was Air Force football. But just as God loves the infantry, so too did He have his say in this one. Hustle and alert O-Line play told the tale, and Army scored. After a panic-inducing 4th quarter, this was an amazing turn. And honestly, the whole offense turned a corner in overtime. They’d really struggled through the last fifteen minutes of regulation.
In the bottom half of the frame, Army won by stopping three consecutive called pass plays, one with a sack and two by defending passes. Army won by forcing Air Force out of their comfort zone. QB Haaziq Daniels played a good second half, but we knew going in that Army had the better passing game, and we knew passing was going to be important in this game. Neither team really succeeded with their base offense, but Army found a way to make more big plays in big moments, and at the end of the day, that counted.
All in all, this was a great weekend in Dallas. I am very much looking forward to going back next November!