Nov 13, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken leads his team out onto the field before a game against the Bucknell Bisons at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army looking to beat Navy for fifth time in 6 years

Eight years ago, after Army lost to Navy for the 12th straight time, the Black Knights decided the only way to compete with the Midshipmen was to be like them.

So they hired a former Navy assistant coach and went about the business of mimicking the success of their service academy rival.

Mission accomplished.

Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J., when Army (8-3) meets Navy (3-8) for 122nd time, the Black Knights will try to best the Mids for the fifth time in the past six years and capture their fourth Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in the last five seasons.

The author of Army’s turnaround is Jeff Monken, 54. He coached at Navy from 2002-07 under Paul Johnson, helping the Mids to five CIC trophies and five bowl games. When Johnson departed for Georgia Tech, Monken followed, while fellow Navy assistant Ken Niumatalolo stayed on board to take over the program.

Niumatalolo has guided the Midshipmen to six more CIC titles and 10 bowl games. Navy has struggled this year but a lot of that has been the level of competition. The Mids have had the misfortune of facing six of the nation’s top 22 defenses as ranked by Pro Football Focus, including Notre Dame and Cincinnati.

“We’ve been improving,” Niumatalolo said. “But if you’re a boxer and you’re fighting Floyd Mayweather, you might have gotten better but you’ve got six black eyes.”

The Army defense will be tough to solve for Navy as well. The Black Knights have five starters back from last year’s defense that pitched a shutout in a 15-0 win against the Midshipmen. Linebacker Arik Smith leads the team in tackles (67), while Andre Carter II (14.5 sacks) has blossomed as a pass rusher.

“This is the biggest game of the year,” said Army defensive back Marquel Broughton. “This is the biggest rivalry in football, the most intense rivalry in college football.”

Army ranks second in the nation in rushing (301.2 yards per game) and features a balanced attack with Tyrell Robinson (582 yards), who averages 9.9 yards per carry, Tyhier Tyler (470 yards) and quarterback Christian Anderson (519 yards).

Navy, which ranks No. 7 in the country in rushing (228.2), counters with the inside power of Isaac Ruoss (608 yards) and the outside speed of Carlinos Acie (546 yards), who averages 9.6 yards per rush.

During the game, the teams will honor the memory of Navy SEAL commander Brian Bourgeois, 43, who tragically died in a training accident on Saturday while fast-roping from a helicopter. Bourgeois played four seasons for Navy.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights running back Brandon Walters (11) celebrates after his touchdown against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons  during the first half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Wake Forest outlasts Army 70-56

Sam Hartman threw for five touchdowns and No. 16 Wake Forest finally got some separation to top host Army 70-56 by scoring the third-most points in program history Saturday afternoon at West Point, N.Y.

Hartman also ran for a touchdown while he compiled 458 yards in the air on 23-of-29 passing as Wake Forest rolled up 638 yards of offense.

The teams traded touchdowns into the third quarter before the Demon Deacons (7-0) benefited from Traveon Reed’s 83-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 42-28 lead.
That was the first time that Wake Forest, which never trailed, led by more than seven points.

Wake Forest’s lead was 56-49 with eight minutes left after Army’s Jabari Laws connected with Tyrell Robinson for a 25-yard touchdown play.

Wake Forest responded with Hartman’s 8-yard touchdown run with 6:57 remaining for a 63-49 lead. The Demon Deacons added Justice Ellison’s 46-yard scoring run with 1:48 to go before Army’s final touchdown on Laws’ 39-yard pass to Isaiah Alston.

Three of Hartman’s touchdown passes went to Jaquarii Roberson, with those covering 41, 75 and 2 yards.

Christian Beal-Smith added 71 rushing yards and a touchdown for Wake Forest.

Army (4-3) lost its third straight game despite racking up 595 yards of total offense. Laws was 9-for-11 in the air for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

Tyhier Tyler of Army ran for 104 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown, while Robinson gained 98 yards on 11 carries and Anthony Adkins had 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts. Jakobi Buchanan scored on two runs for the Cadets.

Wake Forest, which was coming off an open date since winning in overtime Oct. 9 at Syracuse, surrendered 416 rushing yards to Army’s triple-option attack.

Wake Forest didn’t commit a turnover, while both of Army’s giveaways came in the second half after reaching Wake Forest territory.

The Demon Deacons have won in their last four visits to West Point. This marked the first meeting since Army won a 2016 road matchup.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) rushes for a touchdown in front of Army Black Knights linebacker Daryan McDonald (30) during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin holds off late charge from Army

Quarterback Graham Mertz ran for two touchdowns and host Wisconsin capitalized on a late turnover to hold off Army 20-14 in a nonconference game Saturday night.

Army, which trailed 13-0 at the half, pulled within 13-7 on a 5-yard run by quarterback Tyhier Taylor with 11:22 remaining.

The Black Knights got the ball back with 4:38 left and picked up one first down. Jabari Laws fumbled when sacked by linebacker Leo Chanel and Keeanu Benton recovered for Wisconsin on the Army 1-yard line. Mertz plunged over on the next play to put the Badgers up 20-7.

Army responded with a 77-yard drive, keyed by Laws’ 36-yard pass to A.J. Howard, who scored on a 6-yard run on the next play to make it 20-14 with 38 seconds left. Wisconsin then recovered the onside kick.

Freshman Braelon Allen rushed 16 times for 108 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown burst for Wisconsin. Mertz completed 8 of 15 passes for 112 yards.

Wisconsin (3-3), whose losses were to ranked teams Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan, won consecutive games for the first time this season. Army (4-2), which won its first four games, lost its second straight without injured quarterback Christian Anderson. It was the first meeting between the two programs.

Army, which entered second in the nation in rushing at 318.2 yards per game, ran for 131 of its 179 yards in the second half against Wisconsin’s top-ranked run defense, which had allowed 41.4 yards per game.

Army pulled within 13-7 early in the fourth quarter with a 54-yard drive, keyed by Tyler’s 36-yard run for a first-and-goal at the nine. Three plays later, he scored from 5 yards out.

Allen put Wisconsin up 7-0 just over two minutes into the second quarter, bouncing outside and skirting the left end for a 33-yard touchdown.

Wisconsin marched 81 yards in 10 plays its next possession, keeping the drive alive with a fake punt. Mertz scored on a 5-yard bootleg around left end, but the extra point was blocked.

The Black Knights missed a scoring opportunity in the third quarter when Cole Talley’s 43-yard field goal attempt was wide right.

Wisconsin finished with 310 yards total offense, but just 80 in the second half.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Memphis, TN, USA; Army Black Knights linebacker Arik Smith (53) sacks West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) for fumble during the first half  at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia rallies to top Army in Liberty Bowl

Backup quarterback Austin Kendall threw two second half touchdown passes Thursday, including the game-winner to T.J. Simmons with 5:10 remaining, as West Virginia rallied for a 24-21 victory over Army in the Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn.

Taking over for starter Jarret Doege, who was 15 of 25 for 159 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble, Kendall had an instant impact. He connected with Mike O’Laughlin on a 3-yard scoring strike with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter that pulled the Mountaineers within 21-16.

Kendall then found Simmons for his second touchdown of the day, a 20-yard pass that finished off a 65-yard drive and enabled West Virginia to finish the year at 6-4. Kendall hit on 8 of his 17 passes for 121 yards.

The Black Knights (9-3), who took the place of Tennessee in the game after the Volunteers bowed out last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, could have tied the game with 1:50 remaining. But kicker Quinn Maretzki yanked a 39-yard field-goal attempt wide left.

Army had one final chance to win or force overtime, but West Virginia’s Josh Chandler-Semedo intercepted Christian Anderson at the Mountaineers’ 26-yard line with 29 seconds remaining.

Army’s Tyhier Tyler rushed 24 times for 76 yards and three scores, while Anderson completed 4 of 6 passes for 57 yards.

West Virginia initiated scoring late in the first quarter, tapping into a field position advantage created by its defense after it stopped Army on a 4th-and-2 at the Mountaineers’ 38. Tyler Sumpter’s 31-yard field goal capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive.

The Black Knights finally found traction on their next possession, eating 74 yards and more than seven minutes on 14 plays. Tyler ran off right tackle for a 1-yard touchdown.

West Virginia grabbed a 10-7 edge in the second quarter when Doege found Simmons for a 5-yard scoring strike at the 4:21 mark.

Just before the half, Doege was sacked by Army’s Malkeim Morrison and stripped of the ball, with Ryan Duran recovering at the West Virginia 7 for the Black Knights. That turned into a 6-yard touchdown keeper by Tyler two plays later that gave Army a 14-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2019; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Air Force Falcons quarterback Donald Hammond III (5) at the line of scrimmage against Army Black Knights defensive lineman Rod Stoddard (93) and linebacker Arik Smith (53) in the fourth quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Air Force-Army game off amid COVID-19

Air Force and Army will not play their annual football game as scheduled this weekend because of the impact of COVID-19 on the Falcons, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

The game was set to be played in West Point, N.Y.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported earlier this week that as many as seven players wouldn’t be available for the game, then reported Thursday that the number grew overnight. It wasn’t clear if any players or other members of the football program had tested positive or if the players’ unavailability was because of contact tracing and mandated quarantines.

The Falcons and Black Knights resumed their annual matchup in 2010. Previously, the teams met each year from 1971-2002.

Air Force won the 2019 edition, 17-13, and holds a 33-14-1 head-to-head record against the Black Knights.

Should the teams want to reschedule the game, the only open date they both have is Dec. 19 — the week after Army plays Navy on Dec. 12 and the week before the Black Knights are scheduled to play in the Independence Bowl.

Navy’s game against Tulsa, scheduled for Saturday, also was called off because of the virus.

On the season, Army is 6-1, playing an easier schedule than normal as its regular slate of games was overhauled due to COVID-19. Air Force, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is 1-2.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Army Black Knights running back Artice Hobbs IV (32) carries the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bearcats’ defense leads the way in win over Army

Fueled by a stingy defense that continually rose to the occasion, No. 14 Cincinnati posted a 24-10 victory against No. 22 Army on Saturday at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

The Bearcats limited Army’s vaunted rushing attack to 182 yards and also benefitted from a pair of turnovers. The Black Knights failed to score an offensive touchdown.

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder overcame two first-quarter turnovers to throw for two touchdowns.

Ridder hit running back Gerrid Doaks on a 60-yard touchdown play courtesy of Army’s broken coverage with 6:55 to play to give the Bearcats (2-0) a much-desired cushion.

Ridder was 18-for-33 for 258 yards in the air.

Army’s defense came up with the first big play on the game’s opening possession. Jabari Moore, who didn’t play in the first two games for the Black Knights (2-1), knocked down Ridder’s pitchout and secured the ball on one bounce and ran unimpeded 41 yards for a touchdown.

Moore intercepted Ridder later in the quarter. But Army was denied on a fourth-and-3 inside the Cincinnati 20.

Cincinnati’s first points came on Cole Smith’s 33-yard field goal with 10:50 left in the first quarter. Ridder connected with Michael Young for a 12-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter for a 10-7 lead.

The Bearcats had a chance to build on that lead late in the first half. But on fourth down inside the Army 1-yard line, Ridder was stuffed on a quarterback sneak. That scoring chance came after Ethan Tucky blocked an Army punt.

Jerome Ford scored on a 4-yard touchdown run at the 8-minute mark of the third quarter following an Army fumble.

The Black Knights closed within 17-10 on Landon Salyers’ 36-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Army quarterback Christian Anderson picked up 81 rushing yards on 22 carries. He threw for 94 yards on 9-for-21 passing with an interception.

Army competed in its first road outing after a postponement a week earlier in what would have been a home game vs. BYU.

Army was trying to win for the first time in a matchup of ranked teams since 1958. It had been 24 years since Army was involved in a game with two ranked teams, while the Black Knights haven’t defeated a ranked team since conquering Air Force in 1972.

Cincinnati leads the series 4-3 after the first encounter since 2004. This meeting was added to the schedule when teams made summer revisions to their schedules.

The game was played without fans other than limited family members of players and coaches.

–Field Level Media