Highland Falls, N.Y. -- Any undefeated opponent needs to be taken seriously. On Saturday, The Black Knights of Army made sure to remember that as they played a tough, grinding, physical football game that resulted in a 28-14 win over visiting Colgate.
Colgate (now 9-1) came into Saturday's game with an unblemished record and had hopes of scoring an upset win over Army (now 9-2), ranked 28th nationally in last Monday's USA Today coaches' poll. The Raiders never led, but they never gave up and they made the cadets work for a triumph that serves as the final tune-up before the game that matters at West Point more than all others -- the December 8 contest against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Army played its traditional style of football -- run, run, and run some more and then mix in just enough passes to keep the opposing defense from focusing too much on stopping the run. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. again was the focus for the hosts, rushing 19 times for a game-high 90 yards and touchdown. But he also gave Army fans the biggest scare of the day.
With Army leading14-0 with 6:03 left in the third quarter, the Army signal caller rolled left cleared the Colgate line on the Army 44 only to be met Colgate free safety Alec Wisniewski. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior was hurtling at full speed when he plowed into Hopkins chest, popping the ball free and driving Hopkins to the turf. Colgate cornerback Tyler Castillo scooped up the loose pigskin and raced 35 yards into the end zone to give the Raiders their first points of the day and, after Chris Puzzi's successful PAT kick, halving Army's advantage.
But all eyes were on Hopkins, who remained motionless on the turf as medical personnel raced onto the field. After a good two minutes, the groggy Junior was helped to his feat and, following the PAT and the ensuing kickoff back to Army, he resumed his place behind center, handing off to fullback Darnell Woolfolk (89 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns on a game-high 23 carries), who plowed ahead for 6 yards. Everyone wearing black and gold breathed a sigh of relief and thanks that Hopkins had only been momentarily stunned just two weeks before the showdown with Navy.
To emphasize that he had lost nothing in the collision, Hopkins proceeded to direct a classic Army drive, moving the ball 63yards on 11 plays -- all rushes -- that ate 5:53 off the game clock.Woolfolk charged the final yard for the touchdown to make it 21-7 as the first two seconds of the final quarter ticked off.
The defensive touchdown in the third stanza seemed to ignite the Raiders. Quarterback Sage Attwood showed why Colgate had not lost so far in 2018 as the visitors displayed a never-quit attitude. The senior was at the center of the action, completing 11-of-16 passes for 63 yards and picking the right times to hand-ff to Tailback James Holland, who finished with a game-high 166 rushing yards and a TD. Attwood orchestrated a 10-play, 79-yard, touchdown drive that ended with Holland blasting through for a 10-yard TD run to cut the margin to 21-14.
But the Colgate scoring drive took another 5:24 off the clock and time became as big an opponent as Army for the Raiders. Hopkins, ever cool under pressure, then ratcheted up the pressure, leading a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Woolfolk's final touchdown of the afternoon. The score was now 28-14 the game clock was down to just 2:05.
There not enough time to get even a single score and when Army's James Gibson and James Nachtigal broke through to tackle quarterback Attwood for a gain of less than a yard, the game was effectively over. When the next two runs netted zero yards, the canons fired and victory went to the Black Knights.
The hosts had won the coin toss and deferred possession until the second half. Stopping Colgate on a 3-and-out series on its first possession, Army got down to business and Hopkins orchestrated an 8-play, 51-yard touchdown drive, as he took the ball the final 3 yards for the touchdown, John Abercrombie's PAT made it 7-0.
Colgate failed to get an effective drive going in the first half, seeing some fail because of the stingy Army defense and others end due to penalties. The Raiders made 7 infractions while Army had only 3 for 25.
Army's second touchdown drive was another demonstration of why the Black Knights lead the nation in Average time of possession per game. Beginning with 2:32 left in the opening quarter, Hopkins engineered a text-book 16-play, 76-yard attack that knocked 9:27 off the clock. Woolfolk finished the drive with a two-yard push into the end zone for his first TD of the day. His three today brought his total to 37 for his Army career and moved him into third on the all-time West Point touchdown list.
Video by Ken Kraetzer for #SALRadio and Rallypoint.com on November 17, 2018