Army Loses Shootout to #16 Wake Forest, Takes On Air Force In 2 Weeks
by Erin Summers
You would think that if Army put up 56 points, scored 8 touchdowns, had nearly 600 yards in offense, held a 43:00 to 17:00* edge in time of possession and had a quarterback who passed for the most touchdowns in a game in 15 years that the Black Knights would win in a cakewalk.
But, Army was playing the #16-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who boast quarterback Sam Hartman, and Hartman and the rest of the Wake Forest offense had their way with the Army defense in a 70-56 Wake Forest victory to hand Army its third consecutive loss.
Wake Forest and Army each scored on their opening drives and from there it was an offensive shoot out. The Deacons didn’t punt the entire game – Army punted just once. Neither team attempted a single field goal.
"If they’re gonna score every time they got it, then we gotta score every time we got it," Army's Head Coach Jeff Monken said. "It’s just the bottom line. You win as a team and we didn’t do it."
Army started with junior quarterback Christian Anderson back from injury for the first time in a month, but that didn’t last long. In the first quarter Anderson left the game after taking a big hit. Junior Tyhier Tyler, senior Jabari Laws and sophomore Cade Ballard shared QB duties for the rest of the game.
"They all did a fantastic job in my opinion," sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Alston said. "The culture in the quarterback room is just great. 'Next man up!' They have a next man up mentality, and they all have each other’s backs. So, proud of those guys."
Laws, who is making a comeback this season after two ACL injuries, took to the air for three touchdowns –- the most a Black Knights' quarterback has thrown in a single game in over 15 years. Two of the touchdown passes went to Alston.
And, Anthony Adkins's 71-yard rushing touchdown set a new, personal career record for the sophomore running back.
"We did some good things out there today that we definitely can carry on to the next game," Laws said to media following the game. "But it’s going back to the drawing boards, looking internally in what we can do, each individual, to do better and make sure that this doesn’t happen again."
As good as the Army offense looked at times, Wake Forest -- led by quarterback Sam Hartman -– was just flashier.
"He’s great, he’s a great player," Monken said of Hartman. "I don’t know if he’s the best quarterback in the country, but he might be the best player that plays quarterback in the country.
Hartman threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns. The Deacons scored 70 points in just over 17 minutes of possession and put up 638 yards of offense.
However, it was a special teams play that was the turning point. Late in the third quarter, on 4th-and-4 from the Wake Forest 27, down just 7 points, Army attempted a fake field goal. Backup quarterback Cade Ballard took the snap and attempted to catch Wake Forest off-guard, but his pass was intercepted by Traveon Redd, who returned it 83-yards for a touchdown. That play made it a two-possession game for the first time all game.
"We tried the fake field goal," Monken said, "and maybe, just a little better execution with the throw. We just needed to keep scoring points. But, I mean, we emptied the tank. We tried everything we could. "
Up next, another bye week and then a big CIC matchup in Arlington, Texas against Air Force.
"We've got a tough team," Monken said, "They care about each other and they’ll rebound. And, they’ll be, I assure you, highly motivated for the next game. These C-I-C games, everybody that’s playing, everybody that’s competing gets motivated and excited about these games."
While the Wake Forest loss breaks a 13-game home winning streak for the Black Knights, the 126-combined point total in the match-up broke the previous scoring record at Michie Stadium, which was an 111-point combined score set in an Army win on October 7, 1999 against Louisville.
All eyes now turn to Arlington, Texas, where the stage is set for the 2nd leg of the Commander in Chief's Trophy match-up between Air Force and Army. That game will be played on November 6th and Behind The Lines will be there to cover all the action.
*Time of possession rounded to nearest whole minute. Actual time of possession: Army, 42:43, Wake Forest, 17:17.
edited for web by Joe Harman