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September 25, 2010

Army storms past Duke, 35-21

On what was Duke's Homecoming, as well as marking Military Appreciation Day at Wallace Wade Stadium, the Blue Devils' offense extended their appreciation a lot more than Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe would have liked.

With the Army defense coming up with five turnovers against Duke and the offense picking up where they left off against North Texas, it was a deficit that the host Blue Devils were unable to overcome.

The Black Knights, wearing for the first time white over white uniforms, saw on the Blue Devils' first series middle linebacker Stephen Anderson register his first interception of the year and return it 36 yards to the Duke's three yard line. Anderson read quarterback Sean Renfree's eyes as he made a great break on the ball and tried to take it in for six points. On the next play, slotback Brian Cobbs scored his first touchdown of the season from three yards out and Army took a very early 7-0 that they would not relinquish.

Later in the first quarter and not to be outdone by Anderson, strong safety Donnie Dixon pulled down his first interception of the 2010 season, as he returned the ball to the Blue Devils' 5 yard line. With 5:37 remaining in the 1st quarter and 2nd and goal, quarterback Trent Steelman takes in takes it in for six and with Alex Carlton's extra point, the Black Knights extend their lead to 14-0.

It appeared at this time that the Blue Devils' were having Alabama aftershocks and if they did not respond back to Army's right and left hook, the game would be over before it really got started. And to Duke's credit, respond they did, at least on the next series. They took the ball 8 plays for 70 yards, along with 3:37 off the clock as back-up quarterback Brandon Connette called his own number on a counter and scored from 10 yards out which put Duke back in the game, at least temporarily.

2nd Quarter

As the Army defense stiffen to on Duke's first possession of the 3rd quarter, lead by a revitalized Marcus Hilton and the constant pressure from Josh McNary and Jarrett Mackey the Blue Devils' offense was searching for answers.

And they were not the only folks in blue & white who were searching for answers. Duke's defense could find no answers for the well balanced Army offense.

With 10:03 on the clock and from their own 43 yard line, marched the ball down field and on a 2nd and goal from the 3 yard line, Cobbs registered his second touchdown of the day.

The most impressive part of this drive was the blocking on the premieter, as Jonathan Crucitti and Malcolm Brown exchanged outstanding blocks on the edge, along with wide receivers Davyd Brooks and Austin Barr.

At this time, the Black Knights' offense had already compiled over 100 yards rushing and as the 1st half concluded, it was now a matter of waiting to see how both teams would respond to Army's 21-7 lead and that saw the Black Knights rush for 163 yards, along 3 for 8 on 3rd down possessions.

2nd Half

And the Blue Devils came out strong defensively as they held the Black Knights on the first possession of the 3rd quarter and forced their guest to punt. However, someone failed to tell the Duke offense of the 2nd half game plan as they coughed the ball up on Army's 28 yard line, as the ball carrier was surrounded by six Black Knights.

On the ensuing play, Steelman executed a perfect play action fake and hit freshman slotback Raymond Maples up the sideline for a 34 yard touchdown. Steelman's fake was so authentic that the entire Duke secondary bit on the play and he also had a hide open Brooks on a post route.

Steelman's touchdown strike to Maples was his first passing touchdown of the season and of course, Army's as well.

To show you how bad things were going for Duke and how well they were going for Army as Matt Campbell's kick off hit the end zone and things just got worse for the host.

With 9:57 remaining in the 3rd and Army's defense able to pin their ears back, Hilton pressures up the middle as Steve Anderson caused his second turnover of the day on a forced fumble that was recovered by McNary

With 8:00 on the clock and from the Duke 31 yard line, another effective play action from Steelman, as the Army signal caller hits Barr for the score and Army extended the lead to 35-7.

Although the Blue Devils were able to registered two 4th quarter touchdowns, the ball game had already been decided and Duke'sscore provide more a confidence builder for their next game than impacting Saturday's contest against Army.

For the Black Knights, what is probably one of the more revealing moments on Saturday was Army's demeanor after their victory. In years past, there would have been an on field celebration that would have accompanied what might have been an unexpected victory. However now, this is a team that came into 2010 with win expectation no matter who the opponent is and they haven't let go of that mindset.

"Our guys are getting more comfortable in this role," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "They're getting more comfortable with this expectation that this is what the scoreboard is supposed to look like. That's a powerful thing, learning how to win, and we're starting to do that."

Final Score:
Army 35
Duke 21

Tidbits:

* Captain Stephen Anderson and strong safety Donnie Dixon picked up their first interceptions of the season.

* Freshman slotback Raymond Maples scored his first touchdown of his young Army career as he was on the end of a 34 yard pass from Trent Steelman.

* For the second week in a row, Jordan Trimble started at free safety in place of Donovan Travis who is still nursing a sore shoulder. Travis was in the line-up in obvious passing situations.

* Slotback Patrick Mealy was dressed for the game, but kept out of action and the extra week of rest, along rehab may have the senior back ready for the upcoming Temple game.

* Steelman's touchdown pass to Maples was his first of the 2010 season.

* Sophomore running back Brian Cobbs scored his first touchdown of the season as he registered two on the day.


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