October 11, 2010

Army vs Tulane: Ten Game Shaping Plays

Although every game on the schedule is a "must win", the Tulane contest would speak to the character - leadership of this team after suffering a very tough lost to Temple the week before. GBK selected 10 plays that we believe help shape the outcome of the game, which turned out to be a statement game for the Army Black Knights.

1.]
When it happened: Opening coin toss before the game
What happened: Army wins the coin toss.
Why it mattered: You may not be superstitious or believe in karma, but you can't argue with the results, where the Black Knights have won all six of their coin toss this season. Each time they have deferred to the 2nd half. In Army's last two contests, they have been ahead coming into the 3rd quarter and marched down field on their first possession.

2.]
When it happened: 13:22 in the 1st quarter and Army's first possession.
What happened: The Black Knights converted three 3rd down situations.
Why it mattered: Army set the tone right out of the gate, as they were able to march 60 yards on 11 plays and use 5:22 on the clock that was capped off by a 9 yard touchdown run by Jared Hassin.

3.]
When it happened: 2nd & 3 for Tulane on their own 27 yard line and 14:18 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
What happened: Chad Littlejohn forces a fumble on receiver Joe Kemp as Army recovers at the Tulane 35 yard line.
Why it mattered: A reflection of what is becoming the norm with this defense, which is causing opponents to turn the ball over. It also Army score after eight plays on an 8 yard touchdown pass from Trent Steelman to Davyd Brooks, which gave Army 14-7 lead for which they would not relinquish.

4.]
When it happened:9:32 left in the 2nd quarter.
What happened: On the ensuing kickoff, Tulane's Joe Kemp has the ball striped and Black Knights recover on Green Wave's 26 yard line.
Why it mattered: This was the second of three 2nd quarter turnovers for Tulane and whatever Mojo they had coming into the game, was slowly beginning to vanish. The net result of this turnover was a 35 yard field goal by Alex Carlton and a 17-7 Army lead.

5.]
When it happened:7:29 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
What happened: Déjà vu all over again and almost surreal, on the next kickoff return L.B. Brown strips the ball loose and once again Army recovers, this time at the Tulane 30 yard line. Fortunately, for the Green Wave, the Black Knights can't capitalize as Carlton misses on a 40 yard field goal attempt.
Why it mattered: Although only midway through the 2nd period, there was a clear feeling that Army was and would be in control of the game unless Tulane turned it around. However, on their next two possessions of the quarter, Army's defense forced them to punt.

6.]
When it happened:At the 5:24 mark in the 2nd quarter.
What happened: Defensive end Josh McNary pulls off a trifecta, as he pressures, strips and sacks Tulane's Ryan Griffin.
Why it mattered: It was the Green Waves first possession of the 2nd quarter and they not only needed to establish some offense and give their defense a rest, but they needed a score. Sixty-six yards and five plays later, Army notched another touchdown on Steelman's one yarder, which gives the Black Knights a 24-7 halftime lead.

7.]
When it happened: First possession of the 3rd quarter (also see "shaping play #1 - coin toss).
What happened: This may have truly been the nail in the coffin moment of the game. Army marches down the field on 16 plays, 76 yards and use up an amazing 7:49 off the clock.
Why it mattered: Because the Tulane defense had been unable to stop Army offensive attack and seeing the ½ of the 3rd quarter used on a scoring drive took all of remaining wind out of the sails of Green Wave. Army has increased their lead to 31-7.
8.]
When it happened: 7:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
What happened: With their game plan now out the window, Tulane is looking to pull together anything offensively to make a reasonable game. To their credit, they take the ball down field on 92 yards on 18 plays and score their second touchdown of the day.
Why it mattered: Good news/bad news for Tulane. Good news is that they scored, the bad news is that they utilized 7:55 to do so, which it was all said and done … the 3rd quarter had ended.

9.]
When it happened: 9:46 in the 4th quarter.
What happened: Carlton hit on a 33 yard field goal.
Why it mattered: After hitting a solid 35 yarder in the 2nd quarter, Carlton missed horribly on a 40 yard attempt. Ellerson could have gone for the first down on 4th & 7, but hopefully this is a confidence booster for the kicker.

10.]
When it happened: 2:32 remaining in the game.
What happened: Tulane attempts an onside kick, only to have it picked up by free safety Donovan Travis, who returns the ball 31 yards to the Tulane 8 yard line.
Why it mattered: Two plays later, Brian Cobbs scores from 6 yards out and puts the final wrapping on a 41-23 Army win.


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