September 4, 2011

Army falls to NIU in season opener, 49-26

DeKALB, Ill. - Despite the overcast skies and rain throughout the contest, Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish left little doubt that the preseason accolades he had received are well deserved, as the 6-foot-2, 220 senior threw for 195 yards on 12 for 19 passing and an impressive touchdown passes. And yes, he also scampered for 80 yards on the ground.

But it was the special teams who put things in motion Huskies', as Northern Illinois never looked back.

On the first series of the game, Army offense stalled with a three and out, but it was on 4th down where it all begin to favor the Huskies although still very early in the contest.

Punting from his own 25 yard line, the Black Knights'Kolin Walk was bum rushed and before you could say "hooah", Courtn Stephen , who didn't miss a stride, picked up the block punt and pranced his way into the end zone from 16 yards out with 13:38 on the clock.

And after Army's offense is in effective on their next series, they turn the ball back over to the Norther Illinois offense and it appeared that Harnish was going to pick up where he left off. On a 3rd & 12 from his own 40 yard line, Harnish avoids the Black Knights' pass pressure and scrambles to the Army 38 yard line.

However, with 6:50 remaining in the 1st quarter, defensive end Clayton Keller striped the ball from Harnish and senior linebacker Andrew Rodriguez madethe recovery.
The Trent Steelman led offense did not want to miss out on the NIU turnover, as the Army drive proved to be showcase of two of the emerging talents within the program. The team went on a 63 yard march in 7 plays, that saw wide receiver Jared McFarlin pull down a nice five yard reception, but even more impressive was his block down field on the NIU cornerback on Steelman's 11 yard run.

With a 2nd and 9 inside the red zone, Steelman made the pitch to the other upcoming offensive weapon in Trenton Turrentine and the freshman slotback dove into the end zone. for six.

For the Black Knights, dependable kicker Alex Carlton missed extra point and if you buy into omens, that would be just the beginning of bad things to come for Coach Rich Ellerson and his team.

Between the continuous rain, a deep dose of Harnish and a sprinkle of running Jasmin Hopkins who rushed for 138 yards, the Black Knights defense played on their heels the entire contest.

Although it appeared that NIU was going to run away with the contest, as early as the 2nd quarter, Army marched 80 yards downfield and faced with a 3rd & goal at the one, with 1:03 remaining until half time and the Huskies leading on the 35-6 .... an Black Knights' could have the Army right back into the game.

However, reminiscence of the Army-Navy game of 2010, Steelman is hit just as he is about to make make the pitch and fumbles the ball away on the NIU 1 yard line.

The 2nd Half

By the time both team may there way back onto the field for final two quarters, it was apparent that the Army offense was not in completely in rhythm and the defense was always one step behind the NIU offense.

Although the Army offense showed some signs of live in the 2nd half, it was to little, to late, as the Harnish lead the Huskies came away with a solid 49-20 win.

Army falls to 0-1 and will back in action next Saturday Sept. 10th as they host San Diego State at Michie Stadium.

Notes:

Junior SB Malcolm Brown led the Army rushing attack, which gained 303 yards in the game, with a career-high 92 yards on just nine carries. Brown scored on a one-yard run, marking the third straight game he has found the end zone.

As previously mentioned, frosh slotback Trenton Turrentine showed that he is the real deal and was given the starting nod on Saturday. The Keller (TX) product ran for 68 yards on 11 carries and hit pay dirt on a 14-yard touchdown run on his first career carry.

Sophomore WR Jared McFarlin pulled down 4 passes for 35 yards, although it appeared that the New York native had more receptions. McFarlin also caught a 4th quarter 11-yard touchdown from backup quarterback, Max Jenkins.

Defensively, there wasn't too much discuss, but senior LB Steven Erzinger made a career-high 21 tackles.

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