Oct. 22, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army sprint football defeated first-time foe Post, 57-43, Friday night in dramatic fashion at West Point’s Shea Stadium. Junior quarterback Javier Sustaita led the Black Knights on back-to-back scoring drives in the final four minutes to capture the come-from-behind victory.
Army (4-1, 4-0 CSFL) fell behind early as the Eagles (2-3, 2-3 CSFL) scored on the game’s opening drive and returned a blocked punt on the Black Knights’ ensuing possession to jump ahead 13-0. Army found the end zone for the first of four Sustaita rushing touchdowns when the junior used a 29-yard run to score.
Post scored with 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter, as quarterback Dwyane Carter connected with Daniel Awwad for an 18-yard score. The Eagles extended their lead to 25-7 by scoring on their first possession of the second quarter.
The Black Knights rebounded in convincing fashion, finding the end zone in three of their next four drives. Sustaita and sophomore wide receiver Tom Jeffers accounted for all three touchdowns, with Jeffers catching a 46- and 24-yard touchdowns passes on back-to-back possessions before Sustaita punched in his second score of the game with a one-yard rush.
Despite the slow start, Army entered halftime with a 28-25 lead.
The high-scoring first half did not initially carry over to the second, as both teams were held without a point until the 3:43 mark in the third quarter when Jeffers registered his third touchdown. It ended up being the only score of the quarter, followed by a successful Kevin Scruggs extra point kick, putting Army ahead 35-25.
The scoring fest would return at the 8:16 mark of the fourth quarter as Post used a 13-play, 77-yard drive capped by another Carter-Awwad score to cut the Black Knights’ lead to 35-31. Junior Lucas Hornick blocked the extra point attempt, the second time Army blocked the extra point kick after junior Erik Houston stopped the Eagles’ fourth try.
Army needed only three plays to respond as Jeffers shook the coverage for a 73-yard score and along with Scruggs’ extra point, regained the Black Knights’ double-digit lead at 42-31 with 7:27 remaining.
Post rebounded on its next drive, led by a barrage of passes from Carter who capped the five-play, 69-yard drive with a 39-yard TD pass to Rashaun Reid. The Eagles’ two-point conversion fell short, holding Army’s lead at 42-37 with 5:56 left in regulation.
Starting from their own 33-yard line, the Black Knights suffered a crucial setback as Sustaita lost a fumble on the drive’s first play. Post used four plays to get into the end zone, but failed on the two-point conversion, recapturing the lead at 43-42 with four minutes on the clock.
The Black Knights added some cushion to their lead, scoring on their next possession as Sustaita rushed in for his third touchdown of the game. Sustaita hit junior Cody Nyp for the two-point conversion, putting Army ahead 50-43 with 2:13 remaining.
With the Eagles pinned at their own 16-yard line following the kickoff, junior defensive back made one of the most decisive plays of the game, intercepting Carter’s pass at midfield, putting the ball back in Army’s hands with 1:23 left on the clock.
The Black Knights ran the ball on the next three plays, including a five-yard scoring rush by Sustaita. Scruggs connected on the extra point, pushing Army’s lead to 57-43 with 51 seconds left.
The Eagles fought their way back into Army territory before junior Noah Currie halted the drive by sacking Carter for a six-yard loss, tying up the Eagles who were without a timeout.
Sustaita finished the game with 353 yards on 25-of-39 attempts, including four passing touchdowns and four rushing scores. The Troy, Texas native connected with Jeffers for all four passing scores and 220 yards. Sustaita also tallied a game-high 76 yards rushing.
Currie and senior Mike Meier each tallied game highs of 10 tackles apiece, while Currie registered two sacks. Senior co-captain JP Cooper totaled nine tackles and two interceptions, while also forcing a fumble.
For the Eagles, Carter threw for 389 yards and three scores, while Kyle Lagasse totaled 10 tackles, including two for a loss.
“I was proud of our offense,” said Army head coach Lt. Col. Mark West. “Nobody panicked. Javie (Sustaita) is pretty calm and collected, and we took advantage of what the defense gave us.
“Post was extremely athletic and we were able to turn it around and make it a close game after being down at the start. It was much closer than we wanted it to be, making it come down to the last minute. A lot of credit to them – they’re a very talented group, but we were lucky enough to pull it out.”
“JP (Cooper) had a nice game tonight. Against Cornell last week we got burned deep a few times, but he made the adjustments this week and was in the right place at the right time and had two big picks for us.
“Tom (Jeffers) is probably the smallest receiver on the team but has the biggest heart. He runs tough routes and isn’t afraid to go inside. He’s got great speed which he showed on several occasions tonight.”
Army will look to remain undefeated in CSFL play when it hosts fellow 2010 co-champion Penn next Friday at Shea Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.