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Army regains early-season ball control form at Wake Forest’s expense

Sean Meyers/Icon Sportswire

Army’s promising season-opening win over Temple means something again, thanks to a second-half comeback at Wake Forest.

The Black Knights, who dropped three of four after their 3-0 start, controlled the ball for 35:57 to beat the Demon Deacons 21-13 Saturday in Winston-Salem. The win marked Army’s first win over a Power Five school since Boston College in 2012 and the first on the road since Duke in 2010.

Another reason the opening-night win win carries weight again is that Temple has won three straight – including handing South Florida its first AAC loss – to tie South Florida for the AAC East lead. Army showed something in Week 1. It recaptured a measure of that form in Week 9.

“There is a resiliency in these guys that has always been there,” Army coach Jeff Monken told the media after the game.

“I did not expect us to fold. I knew we were going to fight, and that’s what I’m most proud of.

“They came out in the second half and fought really hard. It didn’t look good through three quarters. We were not taking advantage of opportunities in the first half. Our guys kept pushing, and our defense kept answering.”

Army junior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw drove the Black Knights to two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome 10-7 deficit. The first touchdown was a nine-play, 88-yard drive he finished with an 11-yard run. The second followed Jaylon McClinton’s first career interception. Bradshaw drove Army 60 yards in 12 plays for a 6-yard scoring run by Darnell Woolfolk.

Bradshaw has started all eight games this year and 15 in his career. He ran 27 times for 65 yards and one TD and completed 6-of-8 passes for 145 yards and one TD with one interception.

The return of wide receiver Edgar Poe from a hand injury helped. Bradshaw’s favorite target caught four balls for 122 yards and a TD.

Regaining early-season form is critical for Army — not just in itself, but because the Black Knights play host to Air Force this upcoming Saturday at Michie Stadium. A month ago it looked like the Commander-in-Chief Trophy might be decided by the Air Force-Army game. Air Force had defeated Navy 28-14 and Army was 3-1, but then Air Force and Army both slid backward.

Air Force lost three in a row before halting its skid with a 31-21 win Friday night at Fresno State. At the same time, Navy climbed into the Top 25 with wins over Houston and Memphis before suffering a loss at South Florida. Army will need its Temple-Wake Forest form for both the Air Force and Navy games.

Wake Forest’s loss might be viewed more critically than it should considering Army’s recent history. However, note that the Black Knights are closer to playing at Navy and Air Force levels since 2010 when they finished 7-6 and won their bowl game.

Despite the setback, Wake Forest (5-3, 2-2 ACC Atlantic) remains one win shy of bowl eligibility after back-to-back three-win seasons in head coach Dave Clawson’s first two years.
Wake Forest isn’t as dynamic without sophomore quarterback Kendall Hinton, who is still sidelined by a knee injury suffered one week after he led the Demon Deacons past Duke in the season’s second game. That game marked the turnaround in Clawson’s rebuilding program. Hinton’s return to health can make a difference.

Wake’s sixth win won’t come easily, though. The Demon Deacons face improving Virginia (2-6, 1-3 ACC Coastal), ranked Louisville (7-1, 5-1 ACC Atlantic), ranked Clemson (8-0, 5-0 ACC Atlantic) and improving Boston College (4-4, 1-4 ACC Atlantic) in their final four games.

“Obviously, really disappointed,” Clawson said. “I give all the credit to Army. I thought Coach Monken had all his guys ready to go. They got after us. They had a great plan. They executed their play-action plan. They had some big passes against us. We played really well defensively for really the first half and the second half we could not get off the field. They controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Follow Tom Shanahan of Today’s U on Twitter @shanny4055

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