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Army closes out 2019 home season with blowout win over VMI

The Black Knights defeat their southern knock-off contemporaries from VMI in decisive fashion.

NCAA Football: Virginia Military at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army football wrapped up its final home game at Michie Stadium with a Senior Day celebration while hosting the Virginia Military Institute Keydets. Although hanging around longer than expected for a FCS state-sponsored military college (Army led just 14-6 at halftime), VMI ultimately succumbed to the Black Knights’ grinding offense and relentless defense. Army walked away with a 47-6 win, and keeps their bowl hopes alive as they head to Hawaii next week.

Offense

Army’s offense, especially the ground attack, had another monster game. Possessing the ball for over 36 minutes, the Black Knights racked up 594 rushing yards en route to 643 yards of total offense. Comparatively, the Keydets rushed for a mere 40 yards and had to compensate with 231 passing yards for a meager 271 total yards.

Jabari Laws got the start, and continued to demonstrate increasing confidence at the helm of Army’s offense, scoring Army’s opening touchdown on a 4-yard keeper. Unfortunately, at the tail end of a big run, Laws went down with a non-contact knee injury. Kelvin Hopkins took over to close out the half, setting up FB Connor Slomka for Army’s second touchdown of the game.

Hopkins began to look more like his old self as the game progressed. The offense seemed to be clicking, and the distribution of the offense was evident - Kell Walker broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown run, and Slomka added two more touchdowns himself. 11 different Army players carried the ball for positive yardage! Hopkins also cracked off a 63-yard touchdown run part way through the third quarter.

Third-string QB Christian Anderson got some touches late in the game, and again looked quite effective running the Black Knights’ offense. Anderson ended up scoring the final touchdown for Army to close out the win. The Black Knights dominated offensively, going 7 of 9 on third down and 1 for 1 on fourth down. Army did fumble once, but recovered, and Hopkins threw an interception in his 4/7, 49-yard passing effort.

Defense

The Black Knights dominated on defense as well. In addition to holding VMI to under 300 yards of total offense, Army held the Keydets to just 5 of 15 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down. The Black Knights, led by LB Cole Christiansen (10 tackles), registered 60 tackes, three sacks, and five tackles for loss.

NCAA Football: Virginia Military at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Malkelm Morrison contributed a pass defended, and Jeremiah Lowery and Christiansen both recorded QB hurries. Army’s ability to stifle VMI’s run game, while also limiting big plays over the top, were a big reason the Black Knights walked away with such a lopsided win. The defense held the Keydets to just two field goals - a 27 and 37-yarder, respectively.

Special Teams

Army’s special teams units had quite a roller coaster of events. On the bright side, kicker Landon Salyers forced, and recovered, a fumble on a kickoff late in the third quarter to put the Black Knights in prime scoring position. However, Cole Talley missed an early field goal attempt, and Army went 5 of 7 on PATs, with David Cooper and Zach Potter both missing one.

While not detrimental to the Black Knights’ win over VMI, Army can’t afford to leave those kinds of points on the table against Hawaii or Navy.

Aside from CBS Sports Network highlighting Gen. George Patton as a “notable alumni” of VMI, but failing to mention that Patton went on to graduate from West Point (after just one year at VMI), it was a fun game to watch for Army fans. Laws’ injury leaves some speculation as to whether Hopkins will now start against both Hawaii and Navy, but Hopkins looked to be in good form. And Anderson seems to be as capable as ever if his number needs to be called again this season.

Bowl eligibility is still possible, but now the Black Knights need to focus on Hawaii, then Navy.