Army Falls To Duke In Home-Opener




WEST POINT, N.Y. - Backup quarterback Sean Renfree threw for two touchdowns and Leon Wright returned a pair of interceptions for scores as Duke secured a 35-19 victory over Army, Saturday afternoon in front of 25,698 fans at Michie Stadium.

Duke spoiled Army's first home game of 2009 as Renfree came off the bench to throw for 106 yards and Wright added insurance points with his interception returns.

Army (1-1) built a 10-0 first-half lead and held a 385-236 advantage in total yards but an opportunistic Duke squad evened its mark at 1-1.

The Black Knights piled up 266 yards rushing and a 119 through the air and honored its Hall of Fame Class of 2009 at halftime but were unable to win its second straight contest.

Junior Patrick Mealy rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 10 carries to pace the Army ground game while freshman quarterback Trent Steelman carried 17 times for 75 yards. Steelman completed two passes for 28 yards while senior Carson Williams hit on 8-of-18 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore kicker Alex Carlton kicked the first two field goals of his career, from 43 and 31 yards. Sophomore linebacker Steve Erzinger was credited with eight tackles to lead the Army defense while junior Donovan Travis and sophomore Andrew Rodriguez each made seven stops.

Army wasted little time in taking its first lead, scoring on its first possession for the second consecutive week. Mealy, on the first play, bolted up the home sidelines for a 55-yard gain and into Duke territory. Ian Smith picked up 13 yards, Kingsley Ehie rushed for three, Mealy gained six more and Steelman capped the drive with his first collegiate touchdown, a two-yard run. Carlton kicked the PAT to complete the five-play, 79-yard drive that took just under two minutes.

The Black Knights extended their lead to 10 early in the second quarter when Carlton split the uprights from 43 yards away.

Marcus Hilton recovered a Duke fumble at the 42-yard line late in the first quarter. Ehie ran for four, Jameson Carter three and Mealy five for a first down. An incomplete pass and two short rushes stalled the drive before Carlton made it a 10-0 contest with 13:38 left in the first half.

Duke scored its first points midway through the quarter. Following An Army punt, the Blue Devils used seven plays to cover 58 yards with starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis connecting with Donovan Varner for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Will Snyderwine kicked the PAT.

The Blue Devils took their first lead in the third quarter, taking advantage of a fumble, one of four Army turnovers. Renfree, into the game for the first time, completed his first career pass, a 17-yard touchdown to Brett Huffman.

Army closed the gap on the next possession, with Carlton's second field goal, capping an eight-play, 60-yard drive. Steelman rushed for 32 yards for a key first down but the drive stalled and Carlton trimmed the deficit to one, 14-13, with 3:42 left in the third quarter when he kicked a 31-yard field goal.

Renfree, who was expected to play and gain some experience, threw his second touchdown on the first play of the final quarter, hitting Varner for a 31-yard score and a 21-13 Duke lead.

Army punted on its next possession and attempted a fake punt later but was unable to get any closer. Trailing by a touchdown with three minutes left, the veteran Williams took over at quarterback. He completed two passes before being intercepted by Wright, who returned the pick 51 yards for a touchdown.

Wright made his second interception for a touchdown on the next possession, this time going 33 yards for a 35-13 Duke lead.

Army ended the scoring as time expired when Williams found Alejandro Villanueva for an eight-yard touchdown. For Villanueva, a 6-foot-10 wide receiver who was an offensive lineman last year, it was his fourth career catch and first career touchdown.

Army will host Ball State Saturday at noon at Michie Stadium. Outland Trophy winner Joe Steffy will be honored at halftime.

 

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