“We have to be able to finish,” Army sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman said. “We haven’t been a really good fourth-quarter team this year. That’s not who we are.”
Steelman summed it up pretty simply following the best day of his collegiate career, scoring four touchdowns and throwing another before Temple stunned Army, 42-35, at a nearly sold-out Michie Stadium on Saturday.
Army wasted a two-touchdown lead, took 79 yards worth of penalties and collapsed late in a game that, for much of the afternoon, appeared to be their fourth win of the year.
“We needed a couple more plays,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “That’s a bowl team we’re playing out there. We had them on their heels and we had an opportunity.”
The cadets scored a last-minute touchdown — Steelman scrambled in for his fourth score of the day — but an onside kick didn’t work and Temple managed to run out the final 1:12 in front of a crowd that quickly ran for the parking lots.
I think there were a lot of good things that came out of this loss; Army showed their improvement in coming back from a big hole when they scored 28 points to nearly beat Hawaii a few weeks ago, and that game seemed lost early on. Saturday was sort of a reverse of that loss, with Army coming out strong and fading in the second half. Steelman alone is showing a lot more poise and confidence. He threw the ball well, probably the best he’s done in recent memory.
The defense, typically as reliable as the “Old Ironsides” patches Army wore Saturday, could not contain Temple late, though.
“That’s tough to take. There are so many things we do well, but we don’t play well in critical situations,” Ellerson said. “We allow some huge plays.”
Indeed. Temple tied it thanks to a pass inteference call late in the third. Temple returned a kick for a touchdown only to have it wiped out by a penalty.
“A holding call brings back a touchdown and gives them the ball at midfield,” Ellerson said. “A kickoff return to midfield flips the momentum of a football team. I don’t care what happened on the previous 13 snaps. The momentum shifted.”
The momentum continued to stay in Temple’s hands. A 48-yard bomb to Michael Campbell set-up Temple’s go-ahead touchdown. Three straight Matt Brown runs, for 50 total yards, led to Temple going up by two touchdowns late.
“Frankly, that was a little disappointing,” Ellerson said of Brown’s dominance. “We didn’t handle him well.”
It was incredibly deflating to watch, especially with how well Army came out, responded and scored when they needed to early on. ESPN’s Andrea Adelson had predicted an Army win, citing the game as her upset special.
“We had a great first half, and one of our problems last year was coming out in the second half and keeping the intensity and keeping that swarm-style of play,” said senior captain Stephen Anderson, who had two personal fouls called against him. “We can’t play like that.”
In terms of the bowl goal, this isn’t a huge setback — Army still faces winnable match-ups with Tulane, Kent State, VMI and Rutgers. Tulane beat Rutgers on Saturday, too.
On to the photos:
It was just a perfect day for football and, for me, to shoot. Not a cloud in the sky, mid-60s and a packed Michie Stadium was a perfect venue for West Point’s homecoming:
Army stunned Temple in the opening minute when they won the coin toss, opted to kick and then stole the ball back when Ty Schrader came out with the ball following a fumble on the return:
Army quickly marched to the endzone, with Steelman scoring his first touchdown of the day:
“In an option offense, the quarterback is in the eye of the storm,” Ellerson said.
Interesting note on Hassin: many of the Army players often write phrases or words on their wrist tape or gloves (Erzinger usually has “Capt. Video” on his wrist, I have no clue why; Mealy sometimes has references to bible verses). Hassin scribbled “Omaha Beach” on his right glove Saturday (as seen above). Hassin’s grandfather, Donald Hassin Sr., served in U.S. Army and was among those that landed on Omaha Beach during “D-Day” as second lieutenant in 29th Infantry Division.
I shot alongside Hans Pennink of the AP, you can see some of his images from the game here. My friend Chet Gordon, the Times Herald-Record‘s dedicated photographer, climbed up the Daktronics/ITT Knight Vision video board and put a remote camera on the side to capture this incredibly, unique image of the 1st Regiment and parachute team’s jump.
About 43 of my images can be seen featured in Army’s official photo gallery from the game. West Point’s AOG site has also featured some of my images in the past and linked to some from this game, a good site for cadet news.
Finally, I’ve uploaded 283 images from this game if you’re really interested, check out my Flickr album.