Posted by Bryan Fischer
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t necessarily ugly. It was definitely a “defensive struggle.”
And it didn’t matter to the East squad as they came from behind in the fourth quarter to seal a 13-10 win in the 2011 Army All-American Bowl.
“On the sideline we were all telling ourselves that we needed to be the best football player on the football field,” East defensive end Aaron Lynch said. “We did that and that’s how we came out with a win.”
Alabama pledge Demetrius Hart earned Army Bowl MVP honors after becoming the first person to rush for over 100 yards in Army Bowl history; powered mostly by an impressive 69 yard run up the sideline. The East’s real strength, however, was in a dominating front four that applied pressure in the form of 12 sacks as West quarterbacks were harassed in the pocket all day.
“Our O-line was battling back and forth,” West quarterback Cody Kessler said. “But it was kind of hard to drop back and read and then you look up on your fifth step and you have two D-tackles in your face.”
Seven players on the East squad recorded at least one sack and three had at least two tackles for loss.
“From that first play in the second half, I knew it was going to be on from then,” defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “At the end I saw the guard and the center breathing hard, I saw that we had been working them all night and they were tired. I said it’s time to take over right now.”
A slow start set the tone early as the teams managed just one first down and had seven punts between them in the first quarter. Kessler got the start as the West team quarterback and finished the day with 109 yards and one touchdown pass to Jaxson Shipley that brought the record crowd of 37,893 to life in the second half.
The rest of the second half would belong to the East though. Louisville quarterback - he's already enrolled he said - Teddy Bridgewater lofted a beautiful fade to Miles Shuler in the back of the end zone for the East’s first points and they never looked back.
West defensive back De’Anthony Thomas was one of the best defenders on the West squad, finishing with eight tackles, an interception and a tackle for loss. Despite the impressive game, he told whoever would listen that he, “would be playing running back at the University of Southern California.”
Of course, had he done that in this game, he’d probably would have had to block someone from the East defensive line.
And it wouldn’t matter one bit. Not even a team full of All-Americans could do that today.
Utah’s move to the Pac-12 in 2011 reaped its first reward as running back Harvey Langi chose the Utes over new conference foes USC and Stanford. Langi is listed as a running back but has the frame to add weight and become either a fullback or linebacker. Houston Nutt also picked up a big in-state commitment in wide receiver Tobias Singleton. Singleton was also considering Mississippi State.
The BCS National Championship teams gained several commitments at the game. Linebacker Colt Lyerla chose the Ducks over USC and Cal and adds to an already stellar class. The Ducks’ opponent on Monday, Auburn, picked up verbal commitments from Kris Frost and highly rated linebacker Brent Calloway. Frost projects as a linebacker but said he will start on offense. A report from 247sports shortly after his announcement says Auburn will refuse his commitment due to lack of scholarships available. Despite the conflicting information in Frost’s commitment, snagging Calloway from archrival Alabama is a huge pickup for the Tigers.
Offensive tackle Donovan Smith gave Joe Paterno added offensive line depth by putting on the Nittany Lions’ hat. James Sample committed to Washington while Gerrod Holliman added his name to a very impressive Louisville class.
Defensive back Wayne Lyons, legitimately the smartest player on the field, chose Stanford despite the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh. When Lyons said he would choose a school based on academics, he backed it up despite not knowing who he would play for. Across the Bay in Berkley, well-regarded Cal recruiter Tosh Lupoi kept big defensive tackle Vilami Moala close to home.
Defensive back Odell Beckham must have enjoyed LSU’s Cotton Bowl win Friday night as he pledged to be a Tiger. A former Michigan commit, Demetrius Hart went south and said he would enroll early at Alabama. Talented linebacker Lateek Townsend stayed in state and committed to Clemson.