Army Faces Road Test At Rutgers

Larry Dixon

Larry Dixon

Nov. 8, 2012

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 10, when the Black Knights travel to Piscataway, N.J., to face BIG EAST member Rutgers. Kickoff from High Point Solutions Stadium is set for 12 p.m.

ESPNU will broadcast Saturday's contest to a national audience with Joe Beninati (play by play), Pete Najarian (color analyst) and George Smith (sideline reporter) calling the action. The game broadcast will also be available on ESPN3 (www.espn3.com) west of the Mississippi River.

The Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on its flagship station WABC (770-AM), as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM) and Knight Vision. Rich DeMarco (play by play), Dean Darling (color analyst) and Tony Morino (sideline reporter) will cover the game on the Army Sports Network.

Fans can stay updated on the contest via Twitter by following the Black Knights' official football handle (@Army_Football).

Army (2-7) is coming off an impressive 41-21 upset victory over Air Force last Saturday. The Black Knights, who thoroughly dominated the contest on both sides of the football, opened up a 35-7 lead late in the third quarter and cruised to their first victory over the Falcons since 2005. Senior quarterback Trent Steelman ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns, and passed for another 100 yards as Army snapped a six-game losing streak versus Air Force.

No. 24/20 Rutgers (7-1) has been idle since dropping a 35-23 decision to Kent State on Oct. 27. The Scarlet Knights, who turned the ball over six times in the setback to the Golden Flashes, enter Saturday's tilt versus Army ranked among the Top 25 in all of the major national polls.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson, who is in his fourth season at West Point, owns a 17-29 record as the Black Knights mentor. Ellerson, who is 0-3 all-time versus Rutgers, boasts a 77-70 career record.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is in his first season leading the Scarlet Knights. Flood spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant on the RU staff. The first-year head coach also served stints as an assistant at Delaware, Hofstra and LIU Post.

Army and Rutgers have squared off 38 times previously in a series that began in 1891. The Scarlet Knights, who posted a 27-12 victory over the Black Knights in last season's encounter at Yankee Stadium, have won the last eight meetings and lead the all-time series, 20-18. Army's last victory dates back to a wild 37-35 win during the 1997 season.

Army's prolific ground attack continues to lead the nation in rushing yards per game (375.4). The Black Knights rushing offense is paced by Steelman, who leads Army and ranks 29th nationally with 101.2 yards per game. Junior running back Raymond Maples, who ran for 73 yards and a touchdown in last week's victory over Air Force, ranks second on the team and 31st nationally with 100.8 yards per contest.

Steelman is also completing 47.5 percent of his passes for 494 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence, who paces the Black Knights with 14 receptions for 244 yards, has emerged as Army's top option in the passing game. Junior wide out Patrick Laird ranks second on the team with nine receptions and 107 receiving yards.

Army's defense is coming off its best performance of the season versus Air Force. The Black Knights forced five turnovers and held the Falcons to just 21 points. For the season, Army is allowing 446 yards of total offense and more than 35 points per game.

Sophomore linebacker Geoffery Bacon leads Army's defense with 100 tackles. He enters this weekend's action ranked seventh nationally in tackles per game (11.11). Freshman safety Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires lists second on the squad with 66 tackles. Senior linebacker Nate Combs, who returned to the starting lineup versus Air Force after missing the previous two games, leads the team with 6.0 sacks and 11.0 tackles for loss.

Rutgers' offense is a balanced attack that averages 227.0 yards passing per game and 132.5 yards rushing per contest. The Scarlet Knights are putting up 26.0 points per game this season.

Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova has been solid under center all season long. The second-year signal caller, who tossed six interceptions versus Kent State, is completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 1,816 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Jawan Jamison leads Rutgers' ground attack with 863 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. The versatile performer, who lists 21st nationally in rushing yards per game (107.9), has also caught 23 passes for 299 yards and two more scores.

Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Coleman paces the Rutgers receiving corps with 31 catches for 450 yards and six touchdowns. Senior wide out Mark Harrison has been a consistent contributor as well, having hauled in 28 passes for 282 yards and four TDs.

The Rutgers defense is a stingy unit that is ranks fourth nationally in rushing defense (88.5 yards per game) and 14th nationally in total defense (306 yards per game). The Scarlet Knights also list sixth nationally in scoring defense (14.25 points per game) and 12th nationally in turnover margin (1.13).

Senior linebacker Khaseem Greene leads the Scarlet Knights with 74 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The fourth-year playmaker ranks 37th nationally in tackles per game (9.25). Junior linebacker Jamal Merrell, who lists second on the squad with 54 stops, leads RU with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Following Saturday's game at Rutgers, Army will return to the friendly confines of Michie Stadium for its final home game of the 2012 season when the Black Knights host Temple on Saturday, Nov. 17. Kickoff for the home finale is set for 12 p.m.

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