There were two guarantees coming into Saturday's match-up of the Army-Temple game that you could take to the bank.
No. 1, Army, which came into the contest as the nation's leading rushing offense would run the ball and No. 2, Temple would not be far behind in their run the ball first, pass second mentality.
And run Army did, as the duo of quarterback Trent Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon both topped the century mark, while slotback Raymond Maples rushed for 94 yards on the day. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, the Owls took that philosophy to heart and turned their football visit to Michie Stadium, into an outdoor fall track meet.
Record Breaking Performance
When it was all said and done, Temple running back Montel Harris, who owned Army's defense today, rushed for an Owls' single game rushing mark, of 351 yards on 36 carries, which was also the most yards on the ground at Michie. Add to that, seven touchdowns ... Harris had the game of his life as Temple ran wild against maligned Army defense which resulted in a 63-32 embarrassment.
The Owls' 63 points tied the school's single game scoring mark, their 534 cumulative rushing total broke their single game record.
To make matters worse, Harris' 351 yards on the day, established a new mark for most rushing yards by an Army opponent, shattering the previous standard of 268 yards set by former Heisman Trophy winner, Pittsburg running back and NFL Hall of Famer, Tony Dorsett, back on Oct. 18, 1975.
"It was a great performance, a great achievement, the offensive line blocked the defensive line and linebackers up well, gave me some running lanes," declared Harris. "I just appreciate the o-line, it's a blessing to have a record like that."
With that, Temple jumped out early and never looked back.
On the first series of the game, the Owls marched 75 yards in 10 plays before Brown hit paydirt from 12 yards out. And after holding the Black Knights on their first offensive series of the game, Temple did not let up off of the peddle, as they went 68 yards in just 2:37 and five plays. It was the combination of Harris and fellow running back Matt Brown, who scored from 36 yards out, and a 14-0 1st quarter lead.
To their credit, Army answered back with Steelman and Maples leading the team on an 83 yard march, with Steelman adding his first score of the day on a 7 yard scamper. And it looked like Army had taken Temple's best punch, because on the ensuing kickoff, the element surprise worked in the Black Knights' favor. Eric Osteen's onside kick was recovered by Chris Carnegie and Army was back in business, offensively.
But the Black Knights' 62 yard drive ended on the Temple 20 yard line and they had to settle for an Osteen 37 yard field and narrow the score to 14-10.
However, that was as close as Army would get to Temple, who would see their sizzling running back burn off 173 yards on 16 carries, along with 2 touch downs going into the halftime.
Despited Steelman breaking Glen Davis' 66 year old scoring record, after crossing the goal line from 1 yard out and his 43rd career TD .... Army still trailed 28-18 and it was all Temple from there.
Of the Owls' 11 offensive possessions, they scored 9 touchdowns, force to punt once and their time with ball was only to run out the game clock to conclude the contest.
"That's on me," said Army head coach Rich Ellerson, when discussing the Black Knights' much maligned defensive performance. "I didn't give the guys on defense the tools they needed to have a chance to compete in that game. They need to let that go as quickly as they can and focus on the next opportunity. The good news is we have another opportunity. That mess out there belongs to me."
Needless to say, it's was easy to see why the former Boston College running back is the Eagles' all-time leading rusher (3,735) and 15th on the ACC's all-time rushing list.