2 teams going places _ Colgate visits Army
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Colgate coach Dan Hunt says he really didn't see this coming, and that's easy to understand.
Heading into the season finale at Michie Stadium on Saturday against Army (8-2), Colgate is unbeaten in nine games this season and has rekindled memories of the school's famed 1932 team. Coach Andy Kerr guided those Raiders to a 9-0 record and had one overwhelming statistic — they shut out every team.
Hunt's squad has done its best imitation, posting five shutouts to match the Championship Subdivision record set in 1978 by South Carolina State and easily win the Patriot League title. Lehigh's second-quarter touchdown last Saturday in a 48-6 loss to the Raiders snapped a 70-day, 29-quarter streak of zero touchdowns allowed dating to the fourth quarter of Colgate's season opener against Holy Cross.
"We knew we were going to have a good team," said Hunt, whose Raiders are on a 14-game winning streak. "We set goals. I don't think anybody set the goal of being undefeated, and I certainly don't think anybody set the goal of giving up 29 points on the season. If they had, I would have had to tell them to check themselves a little bit."
Some numbers: Colgate has outscored its nine opponents by an average of 31.9-3.2 and the Raiders have taken the notion of getting an early jump to the extreme— they've outscored teams 67-0 in the first quarter and 195-9 in the first half.
"I'm surprised by the staggering numbers," Hunt said. "I've been coaching a long time. I've never seen a team put up numbers like that. Somebody asked me the other day why we weren't more aggressive on kick returns. I said, 'Well, we're only returning one kick a game.' It's just crazy. You never expect to do that. Here we are going into our last game of the season and there hasn't been one second that we've been behind all year."
Army represents a step up in class for Colgate, ranked sixth in the FCS, and the Black Knights have been dominant at Michie Stadium the past two seasons, winning 12 straight. A victory would give them their second straight unbeaten season at home, something the team hasn't accomplished since the mid-1980s when it won 13 in a row over two seasons.
"It's going to be a challenge for us to play our very best," Army coach Jeff Monken said. "I've watched them play."
Other things to know when Colgate visits Army on Saturday:
The teams operate with a similar mentality — focus on the run to control the clock and keep the defense rested. Colgate ranks first in FCS in total defense (192.3), rushing defense (56.7), red zone defense (0.333) and scoring defense (3.2), and is second in time of possession (34:45) and third-down conversion percentage defense (0.227). Army leads the Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in time of possession (39:00), ranks second in rushing (307.2), seventh in third-down conversion defense (.274 percent), and ninth in rushing defense (98.3).
"People talk about their offense," Hunt said. "That defense is really good."
This is a big game for Army because the regular season finale looms in three weeks against archrival Navy. Plus, it's senior day and this class has been instrumental in helping turn the program into a winner.
"You'd like to carry some confidence into that (Navy) game," Monken said. "That's really what we're hoping for. Hopefully, we'll do a good job of sending our seniors out with a memory that's a positive one."
Colgate has a long history of stellar running backs, from Marv Hubbard to Mark van Eeghen to Rich Erenberg to Kenny Gamble and Jamal Branch and the current team has another in senior James Holland. He's averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has 899 yards rushing with 11 TDs.
DO THE MATH
Colgate's defensive prowess has Monken shaking his head.
"You look at 29 points allowed for the entire season and you scratch your head," Monken said. "You're hoping you can score 29 points, and that would be two less than their average. If they score 31 points and we score as much as they've given up the entire year, we'd still lose the game."
Sophomore Grant Breneman has been the No. 1 guy under center for Colgate, averaging 201 yards offensively. He's completed 103 of 160 for 1,347 yards and five TDs with three interceptions but did not play last week because of an injury. With an NCAA playoff game looming in a week, Hunt says he'll make a game-time decision to go with either Breneman or senior Sage Attwood.