Army have their first win of the season against an FBS opponent. Saturday also marked the first time this season that Black Knights picked up victories in consecutive weeks.
Army welcomed the visiting University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks to Michie Stadium and earned a 48-24 victory.
The Black Knights got off to a slow start, allowing the Warhawks to take a 17-7 lead with about five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Army would shrink that lead with a Jemel Jones touchdown that crossed the goal line with 38 seconds left on the clock. That would be the start of 31-unanswered points for Army.
The Black Knights would finish with 441 rushing yards on 62 attempts.
While by head coach Jeff Monken’s own admission it took a moment for his team to feel settled against ULM’s defensive front, Army entered the second half with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. That, and Monken and his staff had chance to make key adjustments to ULM’s defensive alignment at halftime.
“One of the challenges with this offense is when we watch another team play defensively, there’s nothing like what we do that’s on film,” Monken stated postgame. “So we really have no idea how they’re going to line up...It’s hard. We literally go into the game hopefully with enough reps against different things that we can settle in to what we’re going to do. That was really the case today. Structurally, some of it was what we prepared for, but it was really very different from what we expected and from what we practiced against all week.”
Running back Tyson Riley returned to action for the first time since their contest against Georgia State on October first. He was a huge piece of Army’s offense on Saturday, finishing with 12 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Jemel Jones would get the start at quarterback for Army. Jones began the season third on Army’s QB depth chart. While he dealt with leg cramps that kept him out during parts of the second half, he finished with one of the best games of his career. Jones ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. He also completed two passes for 41 yards.
While Jones may have been low on the depth chart, he mentioned that each quarterback on the roster prepares to see time every game, as it is far from uncommon to see Army play 2-3 quarterbacks in a game.
“I was confident in what we were doing offensively and once we found out the weakness in their defense,” Jones said postgame. “Once we were able to execute, it felt like we were just moving and in a rhythm. So it was just great to be out there.”
Defensively, Army held ULM to 349 yards of offense. That number is the lowest amount of yardage Army has given up to an FBS opponent this year.
Linebacker Leo Lowin, who picked off a pass in the second half, commented on this postgame.
“I think we’re really just kicking into gear. It’s getting to that point in the season where we feel really comfortable with our assignments. We felt comfortable going into the game with what we had to do. We each played assignment, sound defense for the most part and we were able to get a lot of stops,” Lowin said.
ULM did cut the lead with a Chandler Rogers touchdown pass to Jevin Frett with about five minutes left, but that would be the extent of their offensive highlights in the second half.
“I thought the defense played a great second half,” Monken added. “It was too bad [ULM] got that score there at the end and that we had the two penalties, the targeting penalty and the roughing the passer penalty on a short pass. It’s hard to give that up. But our guys played really hard...Today, we just did a better job of putting all three phases together...It was a fight to end. It wasn’t a walk off. ”
Immediately following the win, Monken headed to the corner of the field closest to the Army cadets and band for West Point’s alma mater, as he always does, and resoundingly shouted to the cadets “Let’s go beat Air Force.”
The Black Knights continue their fight for bowl eligibility on November fifth when they host the Falcons. ULM host Texas State that same day.