Army hosts Ball State hoping to stop skid

Army hosts Ball State hoping to stop skid

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) At least Army coach Rich Ellerson has something positive to lean on as his reeling Black Knights prepare for the critical stretch run of the season.

``They haven't canceled the season and my key still worked to the office this morning, so the arrow is up,'' Ellerson said. ``Let's go get after somebody.''

That next somebody is Ball State (5-3) on Saturday at Michie Stadium, and Army (1-6) desperately needs a win. There's really more to each season than simply beating Air Force and Navy for supremacy among the service academies.

``We're trying to get better,'' said Ellerson, 16-28 in three-plus years at West Point. ``We know if we want to play better, we need to coach better and practice better. We're going to keep the arrow up.''

That's not so easy when victories keep slipping away despite the impressive offensive numbers Army's triple option has produced.

Army, which leads the nation in rushing at 389 yards per game, ran for 412 last week at Eastern Michigan as senior quarterback Trent Steelman had a record-setting day.

Steelman had 212 yards rushing, the most ever in a game by an Army quarterback, eclipsing the old mark of 208 by Tory Crawford in 1986. Steelman also had a crucial fumble late in the second quarter at the Eastern Michigan 6 as Army was driving for a go-ahead touchdown.

``He made some great plays on Saturday, but we need a couple more plays,'' Ellerson said. ``We need to eliminate the negative plays. (Steelman) nodded his head and knows it's on him to get it done.''

Steelman scored touchdowns on runs of 73 yards and 75 yards, the longest rushes of his career. It marked the first time in Army history that a player had two 70-yard touchdown runs in the same game and gave him 38 career TDs, just five shy of the school record set by Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis in the mid-1940s.

And yet Army lost 48-38 as Tyler Benz, in just his fourth start, threw a career-high five touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to their first victory of the season.

``Obviously, we're hyper-sensitive to the scoreboard when the game is over,'' Ellerson said. ``During the course of the contest, we have to be completely focused and absorb those things that correlate with success. That needs to be reflected in how we practice and coach with a sense of urgency.

``We're a long way from where we should be or where I want to be. Nobody is saying, `Boy, are we good.' We know we're behind the curve, but there's good stuff that we can build on. We're just trying to find a way to win a football game. We have our heads down.''

Ball State will be the third straight Mid-American Conference foe for Army, and so far the Black Knights are batting zero. They lost to Kent State two weeks ago and carry a seven-game losing streak against MAC foes into Saturday's game.

The Cardinals promise to provide another challenge. Offensively, they are averaging 480 yards and 34 points per game and rank in the top 40 nationally in total offense (19th), passing offense (31st), rushing offense (33rd) and scoring offense (38th).

Cardinals coach Pete Lembo remains on pins and needles, nonetheless. The option can have that effect on teams that rarely see it, and his team is allowing 476 yards and nearly 35 points per game.

``In an ideal world, if you're going to play Army, you want to play them early,'' Lembo said. ``These option teams are deep and they work at this stuff all the time. Week to week to week, they just keep working on execution and timing, so they tend to get better as the year goes on.

``There are some coaches that quite frankly don't want to schedule these academies, and I understand that. The bottom line is, can you beat them?''

No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

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No. 16 UMBC shocks No. 1 Virginia to make NCAA history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 75-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.

Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.

But the Cavaliers couldn't get anything generated on offense and the nation's top-ranked defense couldn't contain American East Conference champions.

The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.

Lyles was the catalyst.

He diced up Virginia's defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.

Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.

The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.

Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.

A Tony Bennett timeout couldn't stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3's and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC's lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.

A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of "UMBC" rang through the arena.

It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.


UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.

Virginia: This isn't the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.


UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).