• Erin Summers

Army Handles Liberty for Eighth Win, Now to Navy

by Erin Summers

The Black Knights were dominant in their road win at Liberty, as Jakobi Buchanan, II scored three touchdowns to help Army spoil the Flames' Senior Day with a 31-16 victory.

The Black Knights were first on the scoreboard, scoring twice in the first quarter, first on a Cole Talley field goal and then on a 34-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Christian Anderson to junior Braheam Murphy.

"He kind of made fun of me a little bit before the season," Anderson said of his receiver, "about me never throwing him the ball. So I'm glad I'm able to finally get it to him a little bit."

In fact, of the five passes Murphy has caught this season, three have gone for touchdowns.

After the Flames failed to convert on their third fourth-down attempt of the opening half, Army needed just five more plays to push its lead to 17-0 with 11:23 to go in the second quarter.

On the next Army drive, Anderson went up top again, completing a 51-yard play to sophomore Tyrell Robinson, setting up a touchdown run from Buchanan.

Liberty managed a field goal late in the second quarter to take the score to 24-3 at the break.

"We really controlled the ball in the first half, and scored on every possession," Army's Head Coach Jeff Monken said. "The guys did a great job getting touchdowns, and getting that lead was the difference in the game."

Army opened the second half with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 8:15 off of the clock. The one-yard rushing touchdown by Buchanan extended the Black Knights' lead to 31-3. That TD set a career high for Buchanan, with three rushing touchdowns in a single game. His 22 rushing attempts on the day was also a career high.

"I think sometimes I get a little bit too much credit," Buchanan said. "I think on the first touchdown I wasn't touched until I got into the endzone. And then the offensive line, they just have great push. The third and fourth downs, I just have confidence in them that I can run off their blocks and it's going to be an easy first down."

Army held Liberty quarterback Malik Willis in check until midway through the third quarter, when the Flames scored twice to narrow the Army lead to 31-16. That would ultimately be the game's final score.

"We were just able to hold the ball hostage in the second half. We didn't score but the one touchdown," Monken noted, "and we were just controlling the clock and keeping it away from them. And that was enough to win."

Five total sacks by the Black Knights' defense accounted for a season high and matched the most Army has posted in a single game since Week 3 of 2019.

"Out kids play their butts off," Monken said. "They played hard and [Willis]'s made a lot of our guys miss and made a lot of our guys miss today too. But we got it, got him down enough."

Army also notched two interceptions on the day: one on a fake punt attempt by Liberty in the first quarter, and another on Liberty's final possession when senior cornerback Jabari Moore picked off a Willis pass to give Army a first down and end the game.

Now the Black Knights have a week off and their sights set on Navy. That game will be played December 11, at MetLife Stadium.

"We're going to to try to do our very best and not let Army beat Army," Monken says of the upcoming rivalry game, "And that's to play our assignments, play great fundamentally, take care of the ball, do all the things that we can control and try to play as well as we're capable of playing. That's how this game is won, it's not won on emotion. There's going to be plenty of that, all teams will be excited and I know that it'll be just an all-out bloodbath."

Following the Black Knights' loss to Wake Forest on October 23rd, the players made a promise to each other that they would do whatever it took to win-out the rest of the way. Army has gone 4-0 since that game.

A win over Navy would secure Army their second consecutive Commander In Chief's Trophy and make all of that hard work worth it.

edited for web by Joe Harman