Army returned to playing to standard (sorta) on a rainy Saturday night in Atlanta against Georgia State. The usual recipe of controlling the clock and sustaining long drives, albeit netted turnovers, and explosive appearances by a few new players put Coach Monken’s team back on track but a last minute interception by the aggressive Georgia State offense left them down by seven at the wire, losing to the Panthers 21-28.
Army was only down by a touchdown with less than 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter when QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. made a pitch intended for Cam Harrison, the pass was cut short with an interception by Georgia CB Quavian White. Even with three timeouts left in the Black Knight’s pocket, the Panthers let the clock run out with the ball in their possession, leaving Army at a loss loss, falling 3-4 in the season.
Saturday evening under the lights was not a total throwaway in terms of improvement for Army football but not without some criticism. The team opened up the game sadly with a no-go on Coach Monken’s list of must-have items for a win—a turnover. Connor Slomka fumbled the ball on his first carry with Kell Walker following close behind. The team tried a gain next with a creative, yet failed fake punt attempt from Zach Potter to Jake Lauer, who didn’t seem to be totally aware of the plan.
With the Panthers on the possession, QB Dan Ellington made a completed 24-yard pitch to WR Sam Pinckney for their first TD of the evening. Army however, answered quickly, and would for the rest of the night when Sandon McCoy jumps up and over the pile on the fourth and goal line, flipping into the endzone for a TD equaling out the game, 7-7. The first scoring drive for Army took an impressive nine drives, 75 yards and five and a half minutes--all on the ground.
Back-to-back fumbles and scores for both teams were up next including a nine-yard TD run by Sandon McCoy with 75 seconds left going into the half. McCoy appeared various times on the field. Army was making 50 percent of their third down conversions going into the second half. They dominated the clock with 20:52 of possession and grabbed a total of 205 yards.
Hopkins picked up an early first down run near the top of the third quarter. Connor Slomka found a hole to run up the middle for a 39-yard gain. Slomka would total 89 yards on the ground by the end of the night. Sophomore Jalen Moy, a name unbeknownst to even the commentators, made his season-first TD to answer the yard gain with a 16-yard run on an end around that put Army ahead on the score for the first time all night, 21-14. That would be the end of scoring drives for the rest of the game though. The Georgia State offense couldn’t stay quiet and Army’s defensive line had no penetration on the last play. RB Tra Barnett walked in the end zone for a 1-yard TD run. Panthers missed the extra point and left them trailing by one, 21-20 in the third quarter.
With all their timeouts still untouched, Army had one opportunity to seal the deal. Hopkins threw an interception, intended for Cam Harrison. With the Panthers back with the possession, Ellington pitches to TE Aubrey Payne to increase the gap, and take the lead, 21-28, with 7:41.
While Army got slightly back in the groove and managed 278 rushing yards and went 6-8 on on fourth down opportunities, turnovers still played a factor. Fans got small glimpses of Army playing to their usual selves but it wasn’t enough. Georgia state held the ball for a new 17 minutes less than Army but they answered quickly and on short, explosive drives. A small mistake left the Black Knights winless, a third-straight time this season—the first time since 2015.
After a long stretch of home games, Army heads home to Michie to take on San Jose State on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 12:00 pm.