Despite heroics from the other side, the Army Black Knights were too much on both sides of the ball for the UTSA Roadrunners on Friday night. With a dominant offensive performance leading way to a strong defensive showing, Army bested UTSA, 37-29, in a hard-fought battle of contrasting styles.
Army Black Knights Dominate Offensively, Beat UTSA, 37-29
Army’s dominance started early and continued throughout the contest from San Antonio.
A physically imposing first drive caught the Roadrunners off guard as Army imposed their will on a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The Black Knights secured four combined third- or fourth-down conversions on the drive as their offensive line consistently had their way with UTSA’s front.
That physical dominance continued on the very next drive as Army linebacker Jimmy Ciarlo forced a fumble on UTSA’s second offensive play and gave the ball back to his offense before they could even catch their breath.
Once again, Army converted on the offensive side of the ball. They put together a nine-play, 41-yard drive capped by a Jakobi Buchanan touchdown run to jump out to a quick 14-0 lead.
Army held the ball for 13:19 of the first quarter. UTSA held the ball for just 1:41.
The tide turned to UTSA’s favor in the second quarter, however. Flashing a bit of their offensive prowess themselves, the Roadrunners ran amock on the Army defense, going 75 yards in just 3:30 off the game clock, getting back to within one score off a Robert Henry 19-yard touchdown run.
Despite a minor lapse on Army’s next drive, the UTSA defense buttoned up in the red zone and forced Army to just a field goal as the Black Knights led 17-7 with 7:59 left in the first half.
With their own offensive woes continuing with backup QB Eddie Lee Marburger, the UTSA defense continued to be the program’s strength in the first half, limiting Army to just another field goal despite poor field position and a high volume of defensive plays through the first 30 minutes.
In total, the Army offense controlled the ball for 22:49 in the first half, compared to UTSA’s 7:11. Army ran 44 plays on offense, compared to UTSA’s 27.
Yet, the Roadrunners found themselves down just six points after Tykee Ogle-Kellogg’s Hail Mary reception as time expired pushed the score to just 20-14, Army. Marburger lofted a prayer of a pass into the end zone, where Ogle-Kellogg perfectly timed the ball and used every inch of his 6’5″ frame to reach.
Army Holds Off UTSA Rally
The second half started with more of the same from UTSA’s defense, limiting Army’s first drive to just three points while the Roadrunners’ offense continued its rhythm. Marbuger found Joshua Cephus on a tunnel screen with impeccable blocking from the Roadrunner receivers, springing Cephus for a 44-yard touchdown reception.
With the score sitting at just two points in Army’s favor, 23-21, the Black Knights found themselves on the fortunate side of things with an overturned fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
A wrinkle in their offensive scheme for 2023, the Black Knights can move the ball through the air now. They utilized a well-timed halfback pass by Markel Johnson to Isaiah Alston for 55 yards before QB Bryson Daily found Short for a 25-yard touchdown strike.
Army then went on a 14-play, 70-yard drive in 8:37 to push their lead to 16 points, 37-21.
UTSA wouldn’t go away, however, as Marbuger connected with Devin McCuin for a 72-yard touchdown strike and a two-point conversion to come within one possession of the Black Knights.
In the end, it was too little too late as their offense couldn’t sustain much consistency with the offensive line struggling to cope with injuries and a stout Army defensive front.
As much as the game seemed to go back and forth, Army’s offense hummed throughout. In fact, their first punt came with just 1:43 remaining in the third quarter as they scored on their first six possessions.
Army outgained UTSA, 442-360, including 188 yards passing at 10.4 yards per attempt. The Black Knights totaled 83 plays from scrimmage compared to UTSA’s 49.
The Roadrunners dropped to a disappointing 1-2 and must travel to Tennessee next weekend. Army improves to 2-1 and rides a two-game winning streak into the matchup at Syracuse in Week 4.
- Army WR Noah Short came away with an acrobatic reception in the second quarter on a 3rd & 10. Going up against UTSA’s Rashad Wisdom, Short contorted his body and timed his leap perfectly, clanging the ball off his midsection before he trapped it on his legs.
Absorbing the contact on the ground, Short’s remarkable reception gave Army a first down in the red zone. They’d capitalize with a field goal a few plays later.
- Tykee Ogle-Kellogg’s Hail Mary reception should be a thing of legend despite the loss. Ogle-Kellogg dominated the catch point over multiple defenders and brought the Roadrunners to within one possession in the process.
- UTSA Devin McCuin sprinted past defenders on a potential emergent touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Despite a 16-point deficit, McCuin made it a game at the end for the Roadrunners with his impressive touchdown reception.
- Army LB Jimmy Ciarlo was all over the field for the Black Knights. Multiple stops in run defense only gave way to an equally impressive performance in coverage for their captain in the middle.