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?''

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes


Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.


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Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

Redskins schedule preview: Weeks 13 and 17 vs. Eagles

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the two games against the Eagles. 

Week 13 December 3 (Monday night), Lincoln Financial Field

Week 17, December 30, FedEx Field

2017 Eagles: 13-3, First in NFC East, Super Bowl champions 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 10.5

Early line: Week 13, Redskins +7.5; No lines established for Week 17

Key additions: DE Michael Bennett, WR Mike Wallace

Key losses: DE Vinny Curry, WR Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Beau Allen

Notable: Quarterback Carson Wentz is aiming to be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL late in the season.  

Biggest questions: 

  • If Wentz isn’t ready, the Eagles have Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles ready. Is the real Foles the one who has been a journeyman or the one who starred in the playoffs? And will Wentz continue the freewheeling style that helped make him successful after the injury?
  • After winning Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, will the Eagles suffer from a hangover? 

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 82-75-6; the Eagles won both meetings last year after Washington had won five straight. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1937, Griffith Stadium — With the Redskins trailing 7-0, rookie Sammy Baugh twice led the Redskins deep into Eagle territory. Washington couldn’t push it across the goal line either time, though, and Philly got out with a 14-0 win.

The last time: October 23, 2017, Lincoln Financial Field — The Redskins took a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but Wentz and the Eagles took over after that, scoring 21 unanswered points. The Redskins got it back within a touchdown and on a third and eight play early in the fourth quarter, it looked like they had Wentz sacked. However, he scrambled out of trouble and ran for the first down. That drive ended with a touchdown pass and Philly went on to win 34-24.

The best time: January 5, 1991, Veterans Stadium — After getting pummeled by the Eagles in the Body Bag Game (see “The worst time” below), the Redskins qualified for the playoffs and got their shot at revenge. The seedings called for the Redskins to return to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.

A near turnover that wasn't was the game's turning point. The Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball popped loose from Earnest Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia six. CB Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an apparent TD. 

Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short FG and instead of a six-point deficit, the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.

The worst time: November 12, 1990, Veterans Stadium — As the Redskins went into 1990, the core players on the team, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Charles Mann, Darrell Green, Don Warren, and Monte Coleman, were on or approaching the over the hill side of 30.  The team had gone from Super Bowl Champs in 1987 to a losing record in ’88 to out of the playoffs again in ’89. They were facing their last stand as they went into The Vet for a November Monday night game.

This one became known as "The Body Bag Game". Five Redskins had to be carted off of the field as Buddy Ryan's team knocked a total of nine out of the game, including both of the active QB's. The carnage induced one Eagle to yell, "Do you guys need any more body bags?'' as yet another injured Redskin was lying on the turf. The Eagles and Ryan taunted the Redskins after the game, a 28-14 Philadelphia win that was not nearly that close.

Redskins schedule series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,  and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler