WEST POINT – For Army’s already shaky offense, the news goes from bad to worse. Much worse. Halfback Raymond Maples and fullback Larry Dixon both left last week’s loss to Stanford. Maples had a groin injury; Dixon a sore right ankle. Maples was to be a definite no-show Saturday against Wake Forest, but Dixon was expected back. He wasn’t.
As such, the Black Knights entered their game against Wake Forest with their leading running backs out. And while Dixon will likely return next week, Maples is out indefinitely. A healthy Maples would have had a good shot at putting up his third-straight 1,000-yard season. Only Mike Mayweather in 1988-90 has done so previously for Army. Further, Maples and Dixon entered the season as having the sixth-most yards of any returning running-back tandem in the nation.
“Raymond and Larry are tremendous players and part of this offense, but we have depth at those positions,” Army quarterback Angel Santiago said. “What it comes down to is that we went out there and didn't execute.”
As a team, most certainly. The Army offense only generated three field-goal drives. Its total of 271 yards on the ground is 43 under its season average. And until third-string quarterback Kelvin White entered the game and completed 5 of 6 passes for 45 yards on the Black Knights’ final, game-ending drive, Santiago was responsible for all the passing, and it wasn’t much – 4 of 9 for 19 yards. A.J. Schurr, who rotated with Santiago much of the game, did not attempt a pass.
On its first possession of the game, Army’s first four plays were rushes from four different players – Santiago and running backs Hayden Tippett, Terry Baggett and Trenton Turrentine. It is clear that it’s Baggett who’ll be called upon big time to fill the hole in the backfield.
"We'll have to slow it down and see,” Army head coach Rich Ellerson said. “Terry was making a lot of yards after someone was hitting him. We got him started some, but sometimes he had to get himself started. We were dabbling in some things to put the ball in his hands. If we're in our spread and have one running back on the field that they don't want to see, they can make it hard to get the ball in his hands. That's why we got into the I-formation some and did things like that. We could put the ball in his hands regardless of which way they wanted to lean defensively."
Baggett and Santiago both rushed the ball 16 times. Baggett had a decided statistical edge, with 125 yards, including a long of 51. Santiago’s 60 yards included a long of 21. Tippett and Turrentine finished with 35 yards each. This was the first game since Army’s 23-3 loss to Stony Brook last season in which it didn’t score a touchdown.
If the NCAA kept a statistic about being at the right place at the right time, Wake Forest linebacker Hunter Williams would likely rate this week. Williams recovered two fumbles. The first came late in the first quarter when Williams recovered a fumble by Tippett. On Army’s next possession, with under a minute remaining in the first quarter, Schurr fumbled at the Black Knights’ 40, and Williams jumped on it. It set up the Demon Deacons first scoring drive, a 12-play, 5 minute, 52 second possession that ended with Chad Hedlund’s 35-yard field goal.
Wake Forest’s victory was their second straight in a home-and-home. Wake Forest defeated Army last year 49-37. The Demon Deacons have won seven straight between the two teams; their last trip to Michie Stadium was a 34-15 victory in 1999. The teams have played 13 times; Wake Forest is 9-4. The teams’ first game was in 1945, the year in which Army won the second of three straight national championships. Army defeated Wake Forest 54-0, one of five shutouts posted by Army that season.
Last week Wake Forest wide receiver Mike Campanaro tied an ACC record with 16 catches for a career-high 177 yards against Louisiana-Monroe. A decidedly different game against Army – four catches for 91 yards.
The teams’ time of possession bounced back and forth Saturday. In the first quarter, Army held the ball for 10:49 vs. 4:11 for Wake Forest. It was almost a near reversal in the second, when Wake Forest held the ball 10:29 to Army 4:31. The third quarter belonged to Army, 10:09 to 4:51. The Deacons had a smaller edge in the fourth 8:12 to 6:48. For the game, Army held the edge 32:17 to 27:43. Entering the game, the two teams were almost equal in that regard, Army with 30:36 per game, Wake Forest 30:29.