Army put on its customary rushing extravaganza, good for 341 yards. The Black Knights also descended into their customary passing black hole, throwing for a mere 18 yards. Not bad for total offense, but not enough to overcome Wake Forest, losing 24-21 Saturday at BB & T Field.
Wake Forest opened the scoring on a 74-yard drive, consummated by a 15-yard scoring run by Isaiah Robinson. The Black Knights responded with a 76-yard drive of their own. Fullback Larry Dixon completed the 8-play drive with a 5-yard run with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
John Wolford, the Demon Deacons’ quarterback, threw the first of his two touchdown passes when he hit wide receiver Cam Serigne with a 6-yard flair that gave Wake back the lead. Wolford finished the game 25-of-35 passing, good for 238 yards. Seven of his completions were to wide receiver Matt James.
Then, it was Army’s turn. On its subsequent possession, quarterback Angel Santiago completed another lengthy drive, this time for 74 yards, with a 1-yard run. Santiago was one of 10 Black Knights to carry the ball, and his 21 carries for 123 yards were both team highs. The score was tied 14-14.
“I don’t know if we really saw anything we could exploit,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said. “We just tried to block them and make some plays. At times we did [run well in the first half]. We only had 14 points; we didn’t turn it into enough points. We had to punt in the first half. It’s not like we scored every time we had it. If you’re going to be worth a darn, you better be able to score. You’re not going to have many possessions when you’re running the football. You’ve got to be able to make them count, and we didn’t.”
Wake Forest gambled on its next drive, going for a fourth-down play. But Army linebacker Jeremy Timpf ran untouched up the middle and forced Wolford into rushing a pass, which was incomplete. Army took over on downs, and on its first play Dixon burst up the middle for a 32-yard gain. Eventually, Army moved the ball inside the Wake Forest 10. After a couple of short gains, Monken pulled some trickery. On a third and 4, halfback Joe Walker hit Xavier Moss with a 4-yard touchdown pass. It was Walker’s first collegiate pass and Army’s first touchdown reception in its three games. It was also the first time it held a lead since their season-opening victory over Buffalo. And, as it did against Buffalo, the Black Knights were caught up in penalties, this time seven for 57 yards.
“They didn’t do anything differently, we did,” Monken said. “We didn’t block them, we got penalties. About every drive in the second half got stopped by a penalty, except maybe one three-and-out. The rest, we had a penalty that set us back. It’s just foolish, stupid penalties, jumping offsides, chop block. That was a heck of a time for us to do that. We just have to be smarter. You get a 15-yard penalty on your last drive, it kills you.”
Army had a chance to gain a two-touchdown lead and was deep in Wake Forest territory. However, the Demon Deacons, 2-2, pounced on a loose ball after a bad pitch by Santiago. They took advantage of the turnover and moved 70 yards, ending with a first-and-goal. However, Army pushed them back to force a short field goal, a 20-yarder by Mike Weaver that cut the lead to 21-17 just 47 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Army, 1-2, could not respond offensively, and Wolford once again led his team down the field. This time, an 11-play, 84-yard drive ended with a 12-yard pass from Wolford to E.J. Scott, good for a 24-21 lead with 6:45 remaining in the game.
The Black Knights’ last viable scoring opportunity ended on a fumble on a third and long. Wake Forest was able to run the clock down to two seconds. An incomplete Santiago pass ended the game.
“I thought the guys played hard, but at the end of the game, hats off to Wake Forest,” Dixon said. “At the end at times they played better than we did and we just made too many mistakes to win. When you play a good team like that, you can’t make mistakes like that.”
Next week will be Army’s third straight road game, against Yale, and, once again, Army will be playing a team that rings up points. In its first game of the season Saturday, Yale defeated Lehigh, 54-43. Monken stated the obvious.
“I don’t know [if there were positives],” he said. “You miss assignments, you miss tackles, you miss blocks, snap the ball into the ground on the field goal at the end of the first half. You’ve got an onside that’s wide open, knew it would be, can’t execute it. What do you build on? We didn’t do anything really that well.”