October 14, 2012
Big Plays Hurt Army's Defense
Even though the crowd during Saturday's game was nine thousand less than last week, the portion of the 30,022 who were Army fans waited for an opportunity to cheer after an eye-opening play by the Black Knights ... but unfortunately the moment never came. The mood at Michie Stadium was just the opposite of last week's electrifying mood that was displayed during the win over Boston College.
However, the Black Knights could not carry that momentum into Saturday as they fell to Kent State 31-17.
One of the biggest themes that has occurred in Army's past few games is their vulnerable defensive inability to contain big plays by opposing players. Every week, it seems like the opponent's most explosive player goes off for a career day because of a few big plays that the defense gives up. Last week it was Boston College's Andre Williams, who rushed for a career high 191 yards, including record breaking 99 yard TD run.
This week the man in the spotlight for Kent State happened to be senior RB/WR Dri Archer - 1 of 48 finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, presented annually to the most versatile player in college football. Before the Saturday's contest, he registered 21 career touchdowns with a team high eight this season. After his performance against Army, his position as a finalist certainly became valid, especially in the eyes of the Army staff, players and fans.
Going into Saturday's game against the Golden Flashes, the defense adjusted to the multitude of injuries. The Black Knights have suffered injuries to starting linebacker Hayden Pierce who is out for the season due to a collarbone injury, and starting free safety Ty Shrader. Justin Trimble and freshman Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires started.
The first defensive series looked solid as Army forced KSU to punt in their opening drive of the game. However, everyone saw a glimpse of what Archer could do as he took a reverse hand-off 17 yards. Those 17 yards at the time looked like a big play, but it wasn't as high as his average yards per carry on the day which was an impressive 18.5. With the score knotted at 0-0 last in the first quarter, KSU took possession of the ball. Linebacker Nate Combs made an excellent tackle in the backfield for a three yard loss and on third down, KSU QB Spencer Keith barely avoided a sack and desperately tossed it to a nearby receiver, only to set him up completely helpless against a full speed Geoffrey Bacon making a tackle for a two yard loss, forcing another punt.
However, in the second quarter, Archer started to pick up his game and showed flashes of brilliance as he took a hand-off for 19 yards and if it hadn't been for a heads up tackle by freshman Chris Carnegie, it would have been an easy touchdown. At almost every attempt Archer had with the ball, he would break tackles and slip through the hands of defenders with ease using his unmatched NFL ready speed. At the Army thirty, the defense stopped KSU for a one yard loss, but the Golden Flashes decided to go for it on 4th and 2. The handoff went to their 6-foot-0, 250 pound running back Trayion Durham and he went for three yards to get the first down.
Now everyone knows that Archer is a versatile player catching passes and getting a handoff, but can he throw the football too?
Here's your answer ... Archer caught the toss to run the ball wide right, while QB Spencer Keith took off running to the left corner of the end zone. Archer hesitated, and then flung a 24 yard touchdown pass to Keith on the flea flicker to put up the first points of the game. Later in the second quarter, Army's Kyler Martin who played only briefly, was beat on coverage and Keith hit Eric Adeyemi on a 30 yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 KSU lead.
Returning from the half, the Army defense started with solid play from Glover who sacked Keith for a three yard loss and forced Kent State to punt. Although in the next series, it was Archer all over again that eventually netted KSU a 28-yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-0. Army's defense had no answer for Archer as he got huge 48 yard gain in the following series to set up Durham with an easy score from two yards out, which put Kent State up, 24-3.
Archer capped his performance with an 87 yard touchdown run and the defensive backs for Army had no chance in keeping up or catching the speedy 5-foot-8, 175 junior.
Notes: Geoffrey Bacon resumed his impact on the defensive side of the ball, matching his career high with 14 tackles, 12 of them coming unassisted.
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