PHILADELPHIA – Temple’s offense ran with sinful efficiency, and for all but two second-half Army scoring drives that occurred when the game was already out of reach, its defense was efficient at all times, spectacular when necessary.
“We came out real flat in the first half and this is a great team,” Army linebacker Colby Miller said.
Rarely does a team that enters a game 0-6 have the word “great’ linked to it, even after a victory, but, as everything, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Matt Rhule was not in search of any superlatives. In just his seventh game as a head coach, he was quite pleased with the victory, thank you very much.
“Obviously I’m happy,” he said. “I’m more happy for my son and my wife because they live it every day. My son lives it every day. I’m thrilled, but I have to be honest. I’m more thrilled for our players. There were kids out there starting today that started the year on the scout team. Those kids have been through it and they weathered the storm, and they have come back and worked and worked and worked. That to me is how you build something. You build something with work ethic, and eventually that results in wins.
Obviously I’m excited. At about 10 o’clock tonight, I’m going to start on SMU [Temple’s next opponent].
They earned that win today against a tough, physical, hard-nosed Army team.”
Temple fans were surely pleased with the victory, but it might take some time for them to absorb some of the venom directed at Rhule. There’s a website, OwlsDaily.com that covers Temple sports. It has not been beneficent. A recent posting on the site had people responding to the query – “If Matt Rhule had a shred of decency…” Most of the replies were a tad unkind.
When he reinjured his left ankle early in the second quarter, Army quarterback Angel Santiago had to be helped off the field and did not reenter the game. But when the game ended he walked off the field without even a trace of a limp. With two weeks off before the Black Knights’ next game, against Air Force, Santiago and a lot of his not-feeling-so-well teammates will be given a greater chance to heal.
“I don’t think it’s horrible,” Rich Ellerson said of Santiago’s injury. “It’s one of those high-ankle things.”
Santiago wasn’t the only player who was doing more sitting than he had hoped. Army starting defensive end Bobby Kough and middle linebacker Julian Holloway were both out. Another linebacker, Thomas Holloway missed his second straight game, while free safety Geoff Bacon missed his fourth. Other starters who missed the game were wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence and halfback Raymond Maples.
What a difference a week makes. A week ago, Army halfback Terry Baggett set the single-game Army rushing record with 304 yards and received both national and regional honors. And the 516 yards they gained on the ground against Eastern Michigan put the Black Knights as the No. 1 rushing team in the nation, with just over 352 per game. Against Temple, Army only had 255 rushing yards as a team and Baggett finished with a mind-boggling 24 yards on seven carries. He sat out much of the second half. Ellerson’s explanation?
“Temple did a good job at stacking up the perimeter and staying thick on the inside,” he said. “The yards were there, we just needed to be patient and consistent in our executions.”
Patience is tough to maintain down 26-0 at halftime with your starting quarterback’s left ankle wrapped in ice. But with both Santiago and A.J. Schurr out, it gave Ellerson a chance to take a longer look at the future. Sophomore QB Kelvin White took most of the snaps after Santiago’s injury. He ran 10 times for 47 yards and one touchdown and passed 7 of 16 for 79 yards and two interceptions. Freshman Tevin Long threw just one incomplete pass and ran three times for six yards.
About White, Ellerson said, “Getting him meaningful repetitions were important, when he had some momentum he was making some great plays but consistency was not quite there.”
The loss left Army with an 0-11 record at Lincoln Financial Field. Seven of the losses were against Navy. The Black Knights' next game there will be Dec. 14 against the Midshipmen. The last Army victory in Philadelphia came at Veterans Stadium in 2001, 26-17, against Navy.
Army has won three games this season, and all three victories have been followed by at least one loss. Army has not had back-to-back wins since 2010, when it beat North Texas and Duke in consecutive weeks.l