Army rebounds to upend Texas-San Antonio, 31-13

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Army moved on quickly from an emotional loss, even if the sting of failing to pull off a monumental upset still lingers.

The Black Knights set several milestones on offense in rolling past the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners 31-13 Saturday at the Alamodome.

Army’s triple-option offense continued to confound after nearly upsetting then seventh-ranked Michigan on Sept. 7 before falling 24-21 in double overtime in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Senior defensive back Elijah Riley said the Black Knights moved on from that loss, but not everyone was able to forget so easily.

“I’m glad they forgot about it right away,” Army coach Jeff Monkey said. “I didn’t forget about that; I don’t know if I’ll ever forget about that. So, good for them. Losses like that are going to linger. They’re hard, they are hard to overcome. When you’ve got the No. 7 team beat in their stadium, it’s going to linger and it’s hard to come back from.”

Monken admitted he was worried about a letdown, but he shouldn’t have.

Aiding Army’s recovery was a late switch at quarterback against UTSA. Jabari Laws started in place of an injured Kevin Hokins Jr. and the Black Knights responded with their most prolific output of the season.

Army (2-1) generated season-highs in total yards with 358 and rushing yards with 340 against UTSA (1-2).

“We knew what to expect from this team, but it’s very hard to emulate that,” Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said of the triple-option offense. “So, even when we practiced it, it probably was not at the speed that it was today.”

Laws’ first collegiate play resulted in a 35-yard run to open the game. The Black Knights would score 53 seconds into the game, driving 75 yards on three plays capped by Kell Walker’s 26-yard rushing touchdown.

It was the fastest opening score in Monken’s 10-year career.

Laws finished with 137 yards rushing and a touchdown on 23 carries, becoming Army’s first player to eclipse 100 yards rushing this season.

“It was definitely awesome,” Laws said. “All my teammates, they rallied behind me and I really appreciate them. I really couldn’t have done it without them.”

UTSA’s initial touchdown came on a two-yard dive by quarterback Lowell Narcisse. The Roadrunners scored after converting on fourth-and-eight at the Black Knights’ 33-yard line.

UTSA was held to 51 yards rushing and lost two fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

Army: The Black Knights continue to thrive under Monken. Army has won three straight bowl games and closed last season with 13 straight victories. The offense continues to dazzle but the defense is limiting opponents to 281 yards per game this season and 11.3 points in regulation.

UTSA: Frank Wilson is off to another slow start in his fourth season in charge of the Roadrunners. UTSA is 1-2 despite returning 15 starters from last season’s team that opened 0-3.

NEVER SEEN

Army’s triple-option offense is rare, which makes it tough to game plan for. Most teams will not spend a lot of time preparing for an offense they only see once, opting instead to adjust after a week’s preparation.

Well, planning for an opposing defense is just as difficult for the Black Knights for the same reasons.

“The defensive front that we faced, we didn’t practice that one time this week,” Monken said. “Based on (the Roadrunners’) experience as a staff, in being other places, we tried to practice against the defenses that we thought they might run based on what they had done against this offense prior. That’s all you can do, you can’t practice every play against every defense in a week, it’s impossible. It was the second week in a row that’s been the case.”

Making matters more difficult was the fact Laws was making his first collegiate start. Monken said Army’s offensive staff gave Laws checks and adjusted during timeouts and between series based on what they saw from UTSA. It resulted in a lopsided win.

REMAIN CALM, ALL IS WELL

UTSA enters its conference schedule with a losing record for the third time in four seasons, but the Roadrunners are still optimistic about qualifying for a bowl game.

“You can go 0-3 and still win the conference,” Jarrod Carter-McLin said. “And that was our goal at the end of the day. Our goal is to win a conference championship, go to a bowl game. Everything we want, everything we’re trying to get to, is still right in front of us.”

The Roadrunners lone bowl game in eight seasons came in 2016 after an 0-3 start. UTSA finished that season 6-7 and also won six games the following season to qualify for a bowl but were not invited to one.

UP NEXT

Army: Welcomes Morgan State to Michie Stadium next Saturday. The Black Knights throttled the Bears 60-3 in their previous matchup, Nov. 19, 2016, at West Point, N.Y.

UTSA: Opens Conference USA by traveling to North Texas Saturday. The Roadrunners are 3-3 against the Mean Green but have lost two straight, including a 24-21 loss Nov. 24, 2018, at the Alamodome.