Army run attack grounds Huskies

By Alex Gary

When you hear the name Army, you think of awesome ground-offensives. Saturday, the Black Knights gobbled up ground against NIU like General Patton was back in command.

The Black Knights used an old NIU favorite, the wishbone, to churn out 361 yards and 25 first downs en route to a 21-14 victory over the Huskies.

NIU head football coach Charlie Sadler said a lack of execution hurt his defense.

“What occurred as much as anything is that we really did a very poor job of tackling,” Sadler said.

Another factor Sadler said was the loss of nose tackle Rob Wagner early in the first quarter. Wagner sprained his ankle on the Army’s second possession.

“Losing Rob Wagner makes it where we are not as solid up front as what we normally are and that even affects your linebackers,” Sadler said.

After Wagner’s injury, the Black Knights scored touchdowns on their next two possessions.

Meanwhile, Army silenced NIU’s top gun LeShon Johnson simply by keeping him off the field.

Army “out-possessed” NIU 39:46 to 20:14. Johnson was limited to 16 carries for 68 yards.

“We did (control the ball) and that was the biggest single way of keeping (Johnson) in check,” said Army head football coach Bob Sutton.

Sadler said Johnson simply didn’t have enough help.

“I think we didn’t do a lot from a passing game to take the pressure off (Johnson),” Sadler said.

Johnson still figured in the key play of the game. In the third quarter with the Huskies trailing 14-7, Johnson took a pitch from NIU quarterback Scott Crabtree, saw a hole and zipped upfield for an apparent 79-yard scoring run.

The play was called back, however, because of clipping. Three plays later, Crabtree was picked off and Army marched down the field for a touchdown. Instead of being tied 14-14, NIU trailed 21-7.

“I personally didn’t see (the infraction) but some of my coaches did and they said it was close,” Sadler said. “It’s unfortunate we got the call we did, but I assume we actually deserved the (clip).”

Scott Crabtree started at quarterback for the Huskies and completed 7 of 10 passes for 83 yards but had two interceptions.

Rob Rugai replaced Crabtree in the second and fourth quarters. He was 11 of 17 for 169 yards, one interception and produced the game’s final score—a 24-yard pass to William Patrick with 2:10 left in the game.

That made the score 21-14 and gave NIU one last comeback chance, but Army recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.