Perhaps it was the bye week. Perhaps it was the travel to the west coast. Whatever it was, Army should hope for more of it!
The Black Knights started slow as they traveled to Santa Clara to take on San Jose State at Levi’s Stadium, being forced to punt and falling behind 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. But after that, all that Army did was rattle off 52 unanswered points on their way to a complete dismantling of the Spartans.
They would take over in the second quarter and go up 14-0 behind two Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. rushing touchdowns and never looked back heading into halftime.
Whatever speech Jeff Monken gave morphed into one of the most dominant defensive halves of the season. Army forced San Jose State into FOUR, yes FOUR consecutive fumbles to open up the second half, and before the Spartans knew it, they were down 45-3 following all the turnovers.
Kelvin Hopkins would add another rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown to give him four total on the day and Army marched to a 52-3 obliteration of SJSU, sending them to 4-2 on the season, and continuing to give them confidence as they head into the second half of their season.
Army’s defense forced a three and out to start the game but were forced to punt themselves on their first offensive possession. San Jose State followed that up with their only sustained drive of the entire game, resulting in a 49 yard field goal by Bryce Crawford to give them the early 3-0 lead.
On the Black Knights’ second drive, a heavy dose of QB keepers sprinkled with a couple runs by the fullbacks and a pass to Kell Walker set up a 41 yard TD pass by Hopkins to Jordan Asberry to put Army on top 7-3, a lead they would never relinquish.
After forcing two more SJSU punts, Army then marched down the field with five consecutive Kell Walker runs into Spartan territory. Following a personal foul that put them in the red zone, Walker and Darnell Woolfolk got the Black Knights down to the one and Hopkins cashed in to put Army up 14-3 heading into the locker room.
Once the teams returned to the field, it was all Army the rest of the way. Army used heavy doses of Woolfolk and Hopkins, culminating in a 24 yard scamper by the Army QB for his second rushing TD of the game to make the lead 21-3.
On San Jose State’s first play of the half, Kenneth Brinson, the Campbell Award semifinalist, forced a fumble that was recovered by Chandler Ramirez and led to an Army field goal to put them up 24-3.
On San Jose State’s second play of the half, Spartans QB Michael Carrillo was sacked and stripped by Cameron Jones, recovered by Wunmi Oyetuga, and setting up a 1 yard Woolfolk TD that moved him past Ahmad Bradshaw to 6th on Army’s all time rushing TD list.
It took three plays the next drive, which was an improvement, but the result was the same. James Nachtigal strip sacked Carrillo for a third fumble in as many drives and Army capitalized, with Hopkins getting his third rushing TD of the game to put the Black Knights up 38-3.
If three fumbles wasn’t bad enough, Nachtigal, who ended up with 8 tackles, including 3 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss, scooped up a fourth fumble in four drives for San Jose State and took it 52 yards to the house, getting the defensive touchdown and putting Army up 45-3.
Backup QB Cam Thomas would see action at this point, rushing 7 times for 74 yards and picking up a touchdown of his own to put the final score 52-3 in favor of Army.
Hopkins ended up with 99 yards rushing and 3 TDs to go with 54 yards passing and a TD.
The Army defense was dominant, limiting SJSU to 171 total yards of offense and keeping them off the scoreboard for the final three quarters.
I’m still not positive, but forcing four straight fumbles has to be close to a record as well.
All I’ve got to say is that if Army plays this well the next time they are in a NFL stadium, it might make for a lackluster Army-Navy game this December.
The Black Knights continue to get better each and every week, and with two FCS teams, Miami OH, EMU, and Air Force, the only other games they have prior to Navy, there is a very good chance they are staring a 10 win season in the face.