Saturday was just another ho hum service academy college football day, right?
Army returned home after getting beat by a Duke squad that appears on the rise, continuing their early season success with a win at Northwestern yesterday. The Black Knights welcomed a Liberty team playing in only its second game as a member of the FBS and wasted no time indoctrinating them into the upper ranks of college football.
After struggling to hold onto the ball against the Blue Devils, Army won the turnover battle 3-0, and the offense started to click, racking up 449 yards on the ground. Kelvin Hopkins stats wouldn’t necessarily light up the record books, but he was efficient, didn’t make any glaring mistakes, and had a nice touchdown pass to Christian Hayes. Darnell Woolfolk had a big day on the ground racking up close to 100 yards and a couple scores on 17 carries.
The defense played really well with both Jaylon McClinton and Elijah Riley each having great games. McClinton was in on two of Army’s three turnovers and Riley had a huge tackle for a loss late in the second quarter and some nice pass breakups.
Liberty would make a game out of it after trailing 17-0 at halftime, and Monken’s concerns about the cut block rule came to roost with Army picking up three penalties for illegal blocks below the waist, but in the end, Army executed their game plan and came away with a decisive 38-14 victory.
Offensive Player of the Game: Woolfolk
Darnell showed why he was on so many preseason watchlists by gaining 98 yards on 17 carries and picking up two TDs. The offensive team captain appeared to be the spark the team needed, picking up the heaviest workload among all Army players and ensuring that all of the fumble problems in week one stayed off the stat sheet this week.
Defensive Player of the Game: McClinton
Elijah Riley had a big day with five tackles including a huge tackle for a loss and three critical pass breakups, but McClinton set the tone from the beginning for the defense. He forced and then recovered his own fumble early in the first quarter and followed that up with five tackles and an interception as well. He was a big reason Army was able to establish themselves early in the game and withstand Liberty’s comeback attempt early in the third quarter.
Special Teams Player of the Game: Landon Salyers
The Army placekicker was 1/1 with a 42 yard field goal and 5/5 on extra points to account for 8 of Army’s 38 points on the day.
The Falcons gave the Owls of Florida Atlantic all they could handle at the end of the fourth quarter, but their furious rally fell just short as they were unable to score after getting a punt block TD and recovering an onside kick.
The Air Force offense never could get into a rhythm, with Charlie Scott being forced to punt five times throughout the game. The offense was pretty balanced, with Isaiah Sanders leading the attack through the air on 8/13 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown. They rushed for 209 yards on the ground with Cole Fagan leading the way in his return back home with 80 yards on 16 carries.
The defense actually performed really well against the run, limiting star running back Devin Singletary to just 57 yards and a TD on 16 carries with the bulk of that coming on a 36 yard scamper. But they had no answer for Owls QB Chris Robison as he finished the day 33/40 for 471 yards and 3 touchdowns.
A couple great special teams plays helped the Falcons with their surge at the end. Garrett Kauppila had a nice 19 yard punt return on special teams, but his big moment came when he blocked a late FAU punt and Lakota Wills returned it for a touchdown. Air Force was then able to follow this up by recovering an ensuing onside kick to give themselves a chance to win the game, but a Sanders INT sealed the game as FAU held on to win 33-27.
Offensive Player of the Game: Sanders
Though Fagan certainly had a nice day on the ground, Sanders was still the offensive MVP of this one. He showed some flashes through the air going 8/13 for 164 yards with a touchdown pass to Kade Waguespack and the one INT at the end of the game. He also picked up 34 yards on the ground, though it was only at a clip of 1.9 yards/carry.
Defensive Player of the Game: Kauppila
Kauppila turned in the best performance on the team on Saturday and was the overall Air Force MVP in my opinion. He finished with 9 tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, a nice 19 yard punt return, and what would have been the game changing play of the day with his punt block on special teams.
Special Teams Player of the Game: Kauppila
The Air Force DB also was the MVP on special teams for the aforementioned punt block that setup the Wills return for a TD.
Navy provided some serious service academy fireworks on Saturday as they overcame a double digit fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Memphis Tigers 22-21 in the American Athletic Conference opener for the two teams.
Yes, Malcolm Perry found his groove in the fourth quarter and provided some electric plays, and we will get to that, but the performance of the defense was the story of the game to me. They certainly benefitted from the weather in the passing game, but time after time, they made big plays. From the very beginning, with the forced fumble by Sean Williams that was recovered by Taylor Heflin, they set the precedent for what would follow.
Heflin, Polu, and Sullivan all got fumble recoveries and Jarid Ryan picked up an interception as the Mids had to return to the field before halftime for one more play after already heading up the tunnel. A big sack from Heflin and a couple huge tackles for loss by Jackson Pittman and Anthony Villalobos, including the one that sealed the victory, were also a big part of the defensive effort. Yes, Darrell Henderson ended up with 212 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 13 carries for the Tigers, but the majority of those came on two long TD runs, and when it mattered in the fourth quarter, the defense buckled down and got the stops necessary to secure the victory.
On offense, it took awhile to get things going again. Malcolm Perry struggled at times and looked uncertain on his reads and decisions, often pulling the ball down too quickly or keeping the ball as a default. The rain definitely didn’t help, and I’m sure played a factor in the number of qb keepers, but just like the defense, when it mattered most, he stepped up his game and put on a fourth quarter show for the ages. Zach Abey picked up another goal line TD and a couple big drive extending plays as well as a trick play completion to Perry down the sideline.
It was certainly a grind for the entire team, but in one of the guttiest, grittiest performances in recent memory, they battled until the very end and came away with the only thing that mattered, the first Navy victory of the season and an early advantage in the AAC West.
Offensive Player of the Game: Perry
I didn’t want to break down his stats in their entirety above, but this is a clear choice for offensive player of the game. There were times in the first half and even through the third quarter that this would have been in doubt, but all of that was erased as Perry settled down and stepped up in the fourth quarter to lead the Mids to victory. He ended up with a whopping 36 rushes because of the number of QB keepers out of the option for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team in passing with two completions for 22 yards and in receiving as he hauled in the Abey throw for a 17 yard gain. So, hard to argue with him as the offensive MVP after leading his team in rushing, passing, and receiving!
Oh, and there was this all-time great TD that you might have seen once or twice already as well...
Malcolm "Houdini" Perry doing what only he can do... https://t.co/9ASbVXfnPF— Against All Enemies (@AAE_SBN) September 9, 2018
Defensive Player of the Game: Sean Williams
While Taylor Heflin turned in a tremendous performance that included the fumble recovery, a big sack, and a tackle for loss to go with his nine total tackles, Williams, the defensive team captain, certainly took a lead by example approach to yesterday’s game as he led the way with 9 tackles and had two huge forced fumbles. He set the tone for the defense on the very first drive with the forced fumble and never let up!
Special Teams Player of the Game: Owen White
White, Navy’s punter, had a sensational day punting the football. He was forced to punt 7 times and averaged over 40 yards a kick. Several of his punts helped flip the field, and what made this even more impressive was that he did it in a driving rainstorm for much of the game, handling each punt cleanly and getting them off without issue.
CIC Weekly Award Winners:
There were some tremendous performances from each team, but we can only select one MVP from the offensive, defensive, and special teams sides of the ball, so here you go...
CIC Offensive MVP: Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy
CIC Defensive MVP: Jaylon McClinton, DB, Army
CIC Special Teams MVP: Garrett Kauppila, DB, Air Force
We could use some help picking the overall CIC MVP for the week, and will leave it to you, the fans and readers to decide. Vote here in the poll below as well as on Twitter @AAE_SBN and we will crown an MVP on Tuesday!
Who was the week 2 CIC MVP?
This poll is closed
Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy
Jaylon McClinton, DB, Army
Garrett Kauppila, DB, Air Force