Army exceeded the 30-point mark for the third time this season Saturday against Rice and the Black Knights’ did it the ol’-fashioned way. Or, at least, the Army way. With 363 rushing yards, Army moved back into the top 10 rushing leaders in the nation. With an average of 259.3 yards, the team is ninth in the nation. Army head coach Jeff Monken’s previous team before taking over at Army, Georgia Southern, remains No. 1 with 368.9 yards.
Army achieved its total against Rice with a combination of its stereotypical pound-into-the-line short runs and two big ones. The first was a 71-yard run by quarterback A.J. Schurr that helped lead to the Black Knights’ first touchdown. The second was a 69-yard run by Aaron Kemper that set up Army’s second touchdown. Both were career-long runs.
Kemper led the Black Knights with 129 yards; Schurr had 117. It was the first game all season Army had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. Three of Army’s four touchdowns came via the run – on Schurr’s 6-yard run in the second quarter; John Trainor’s 23-yard run in the third; and Kemper’s 24-yard run in the fourth. Its only passing touchdown was Army’s first score of the game, a 16-yard TD pass from Schurr to DeAndre Bell on the fourth play of the second quarter.
Rice, on the other hand, did most of its damage in the air. Quarterback Driphus Jackson completed 20 of 30 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The teams’ overall yardage served as a perfect example of their relative skills. Rice had those 276 yards passing and 165 rushing; Army ran for 378 yards and passed for 18. Rice led overall in total offense, 432 yards to 396.
A week ago, in Army’s 21-14 victory over Bucknell, wide receiver Edgar Poe set a personal record with three catches for 100 yards, becoming the first Army 100-yard receiver since Alejandro Villanueva had 119 yards in 2009 against VMI. Despite repeated attempts, Rice held Poe without a catch.
Army continued its dominance in time of possession, holding the ball for 31 minutes, 38 seconds. The only two games this season in which the Black Knights did not hold that edge were in losses to UConn and Duke.
After committing 10 penalties in its 27-26 victory two weeks ago over Florida Atlantic, Rice reduced the number slightly, with eight penalties for 64 yards. Army was called for two penalties for 24 yards. Army is 12th in the nation for averaging the least yardage per penalty, having given up just 4.57 yards per penalty. Georgia Tech leads, having given up just three yards per penalty.
Rice has had some interesting meetings with Mother Nature lately. Saturday, Hurricane Patricia whipped through Rice Stadium, alternately delivering some relatively light rain, but, mostly, torrential downpours. Two weeks ago, against Florida Atlantic, its game was delayed 90 minutes when some Biblical-like lightning took over at FAU Stadium.
Army and Rice have played six games. Rice has won four; there’s been one tie. The one Army victory came in 1958, when the Black Knights, led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins, won 14-7.
There are 17 players from Texas on Army, the most of any state. The Black Knights’ last game in Texas was in 2013, when they defeated Louisiana Tech at the Cotton Bowl, 35-16.
Army has next week off before its game Nov. 7 at Air Force. The game, the 50th between the two teams, will be the first Army game in which it begins competing for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, awarded annually to the winner of the round-robin series among Army, Navy and Air Force. Navy won the first game of the series this season when it defeated Air Force 33-11. Air Force won the trophy last season with victories over Army and Navy. Army last won it in 1996. Army has won the trophy six times since its inception in 1972.