It was another huge game for fullback Jared Hassin, thanks in-part to the grinding, multi-faceted running attack that Army is perfecting, even without one of it’s top rushers.
Yes, Hassin delivered three touchdowns in Army’s season-opening win, but he stepped up perhaps even bigger this weekend against a better opponent. Army, nicked up, on the road and looking for revenge against Tulane without one of their top slotbacks, cruised in a 41-23 win at the Louisiana Superdome. Hassin picked up for the injured Pat Mealy, rushing for 145 yards (and catching a 14-yard pass) as Army recorded its third road win for the first time since 1967.
“We needed to stop (Hassin) all night,” Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. “He’s obviously the one that won them the football game.”
Tulane, who stunned Army at West Point last October, was coming off a win over Rutgers last week. They had no answer for Hassin and sophomore QB Trent Steelman, who himself ran 17 times for 88 yards and a touchdown while throwing another.
“We are running the ball well and we are being opportunistic,” Army head coach Rich Ellerson said. “I think that our guys are playing a little bit better in different phases each week.”
Malcolm Brown and freshman Raymond Maples each had about 40 yards on the ground as well. With four quick rushers, Army could afford to only throw for 31 yards.
“We just didn’t defend the option very well,” Toledo said. “When you defend it, you have to start inside out, it starts with the fullback. Our defensive line obviously didn’t hold up well.”
Mealy, who sat out most of the game, hasn’t been the No. 1 guy this year in terms of yardage, but he’s certainly been an important part of Army’s running game with nearly 200 total yards. Maples got the start, a nice day for a plebe who fought his way onto the team this summer.
Army was also without Jordan Trimble — his brother, Justin, stepped up big the whole afternoon — and Andrew Rodriguez, who had surgery and is officially done for the year. Donovan Travis and Steve Anderson were also banged up in the second half.
Army, which ran for 312 yards on 62 carries, pushed its point total to 194, 10 more than it scored all of ’09.
They again won the turnover ratio, with Ellerson’s timely challenge overturning a fumble.
“We are doing a great job on the turnover battle,” Ellerson said. “When you do that, you’ve got a great chance to win. It’s hard to overcome something like four to one.”
It was 3-for-1, but, close enough. According to Rich DeMarco, the Army defensive coaching staff wasn’t pleased with linebacker Steve Erzinger last week and questioned starting him this weekend. He got the nod anyway and finished second on the D with six tackles. Chad Littlejohn also had a solid game.
West Point has a more detailed recap of the game featuring one of my shots of Hassin.
The Record cited both Anees Merzi and Frank Allen with big efforts in helping Army rack up big yards on the ground. And at no surprise, Josh McNary had two sacks. He ranks second in the nation in sacks and leads the nation in yards lost with 59.
The bowl thoughts continue — the cadets need two more wins. It’s sort of a confusing situation, though.
For now, Rutgers stands in the way.
Tulane was a bit out of my travel plans on Saturday, although I did get to see a few cadets in the Bronx: