|'06 Army game page
Rice 48, Army 14
Owls emerge from tragedy in triumph
It was a day for the offensive line to shine -- has to be, when you've scored 48 points (PTH
WEST POINT, NY (Oct. 1) -- The Rice Owls cast off heartbreak,
frustration, injuries, and the inevitable detritus of a horrendous September schedule,
leaving it all on the Plain of West Point here Saturday in overwhelming a stunned Army
team 48-14, and in so doing dominating every phase of the game.
The death of freshman Rice defensive back Dale Lloyd quietly pervaded emotions,
thoughts, feelings, for every Insitute man on the sideline this grey, overcast day. But
the sense of tragedy overcome clearly served as a unifying principle for a Rice team that
played exactly the way Todd Graham first said they would on New Year's Day of this year.
The return of quarterback Chase Clement, too, turned out to be an enormous boost for an
Owl offense that simply had been designed around him. Functioning not unlike the CPU of a
computer, Chase riddled the Black Knight defense for 299 yards passing, going 29 for 39
and throwing five touchdown passes -- the most for a Rice quarterback ever, and the first
time an Owl helmsman has thrown for at least four TD passes in a game since 1981.
Loss left Army looking for answers
Tommy Henderson had a good outing, here seen cradling the ball after making catch for
first down yardage (PTH photo)
In the home team locker room, Army head coach Bobby Ross sounded
distraught. The Cadets had fully expected to win this game, then easily defeat Division
1-AA VMI at home next week for a 4-2 record going into the second half of the season. But
the best laid plans....
"It's really agonizing because it was something I wanted really badly for
this program," a Coach Ross said of Army's failed attempt at topping the .500 mark.
"I really did. And to fall on our face like we did, it's really agonizing."
But for the first few minutes of the game, it looked as if this one would be
just like the first four the Owls have played this year -- another loss.
"This game started out like all of our games," Coach Graham deadpanned
afterwards. "They took the ball down and scored."
Sure enough, the Owls did spot the Army a 7-0 lead, just as they have all of the
other opponents theyve played this year. This time, though, chalk it up to poor
field position brought about by a 30-yard Corey Anderson return of the opening kickoff.
The Cadets took the ball 55 yards in nine plays, with the key play of the drive being a
third-and-six conversion from the Rice 11, when David Pevoto zipped the ball on a slant
pattern to Tim Dunn for a first and goal at the three.
Maybe that easy touchdown didnt wind up helping the Army cause.
Theyd doubtless heard how "bad" this Rice bunch was all week, and the Rice
defense didnt do all that much to dispell the notion on that game-opening Army
But as soon as the Owls got the ball, the skies seemed to darken a bit,
and Chase Clement took the field as the cloudy sky formed a perfect, glareless backdrop
for his surgical passing game.
The way the Owls put up their opening points seemed to underscore the problems
that the Army defenders wound up having with Rices Chase Clement-led offensive
strategy. For if they backed off and tried to cover everybody, that left the tackle-guard
gap vulnerable to the quarterback scramble.
Chase did that, taking what was given to him, the first play of the game,
picking up six.
Next play, Army found out that you cant cover Jarett Dillard one-on-one,
as the budding Owl star scooped up Chases perfect pass for 19 yards and a first down
at the Army 42. Jarett picked up five more on a quick out two plays later, so next play
Army flooded the passing zones.
Naturally Chase took what he was given again, this time zipping for 14 yards
before sliding to the turf a la Kenny Stabler.
You keep doing that Chase. We want you to be the hero with your arm, not your
"I did do some extra running while I was rehabbing my hand," he told
us after the game. "I guess it didnt hurt when the time came to tuck it
The Owls then tried Quinton Smith into the line, first for no gain; then for
three. So on third and seven from the Navy 20, when Jarett Dillard set up wide, it looked
as it every military eye in Michie Stadium was on him. Jarett floated toward the post,
drawing his man and a middle linebacker his way.
The left the gut of the end zone wide open for Owl tight end Taylor Wardlaw, who
silenced the partisan crowd with a deft reception of an on-the-money pass five yards deep
in the end zone.
Chase was back.
Defensive unit shines at last
Andrew Sendejo is literally on top of things, this play (PTH photo)
Next it was time for the Rice defensive unit to put on a little showtime.
When Clark Fangmeier pooched the ball high and wide, the ball went out of bounds at the
Army 34, just as, it seemed, an Owl charged forwards and cradled the ball onside in his
hands. The play was ruled no recovery, however, but that just set the stage for some Rice
defensive heroics the likes of which had not been seen thus far this season.
Army quarterback David Pevotos apparent distraction didnt hurt
matters for the Owls. First play, he underthrew his receiver. On second down, then, Brian
Raines delivered a big stick on USMAs Tim Frye. Then on third and seven,
Pevotos receiver dropped his hurried ball, and the Cadets had to kick it away.
The Owls, then, started at their own 24 and struck quickly. First, Chase hit
Tommy Henderson on the swing pattern and he rolled for 11 yards. A quick out to Jarett
Dillard netted nine more, which was augmented by a minor face mask infraction, putting the
ball squarely at midfield.
Whatever Army was expecting, the next play, they didnt get it, as,
instead, a wide open Jarett Dillard hauled in Chase Clements pass at the 10 yard
line and rolled in untouched.
All of a sudden, there were getting to be some smiles popping up on the
visitors sideline. This was kinda fun.
So much fun, in fact, that the defense wanted in on the act, too. So they came
out and reprised their three-and-out routine as Jon Cary and Brian Raines combined to
stack up Jamal Robinson on first down.
Facing a heavy rush, QB Pevoto misfired on two straight attempts, and the Army
punt team was on the field again. This time, Army punter Owen Tolson sailed a beauty for
51 yards, and the Owls were set back even further, to their own seven yard line, thanks to
a half-the-distance holding call.
This time, the Rice offensive unit downright violated the Geneva Conventions
with its 93-yard, Chinese water torture drive. In a 12-play, five-minutes-plus drive,
Quinton Smith, Chase Clement, Joel Armstrong, Tommy Henderson and John Wall all got
touches of the ball.
The key play involved a bit of trickery that was perfectly executed. Chase
rolled one way, but flipped the ball back to Joel Armstrong going the other way on the
reverse. Joel made it look like a run, but suddenly reared up and threw a perfect strike
to, you guessed it, Jarett Dillard, who made an acrobatic catch as he headed out of bounds
just short of the pylon.
You know, that play oughta be good for 20 or 30 yards once a game, every game.
It was good for 30, this time.
When the Army defense bunched up to stop Q Smith for no gain on first and goal,
the Owls took the air route again, Chase hitting a wide-open John Wall on a down and out
pattern for the touchdown.
With Chase in, Rice coaches free to place chess pieces
Chase Clement scrambles for yardage -- he took what he was given (PTH photo)
That made the score 21-7, and over 12 minutes still remained in the half.
The difference in this Rice team, with Clement at the helm, and, one hastens to add, with
possibly Rices best all-around athlete, Joel Armstrong, on the field at wideout,
playing in a place where he can maximize his own contribution well, it was a huge
difference-maker, Coach Graham said afterwards.
"I knew what a difference it makes to put 16 back at quarterback and to
have 13 go back to receiver. And then people don't even realize what 81 is capable
of," Graham said.
For those of you whore visitors to this site, the program reads: 16
Chase Clement; 13 Joel Armstrong; 81 future All-American.
Army came storming back, however, as Wesley McMahand took a delayed handoff and
threaded his way for 32 yards to the Rice 36 before JaCorey Shepherd dragged him
down. McMahand picked up six more on the next play, but thats when the train stopped
First, George Chukwu threw off his blocker and nailed Jamal Robinson for a loss
of two. Then, Pevoto went to the well once too often on his slant pattern something
that the Rice defensive masterminds in the press box had picked up and relayed down to the
"I made an adjustment," Rice corner Andray Downs said afterwards. That
adjustment put him right in position to make the pick, with smooth sailing ahead. There
was no chance of a clip, as Andray had a ten-yard head start on his nearest defender
and, as for the rest of it, he let instinct take over.
"I was thinking, Dont get caught," he said after the game,
with a slight grin on his face. "Coach had told us at practice during the week, if
anyone of us got the interception and had a chance for a runback, dont let the
quarterback catch you, or youll never stop hearing about it."
"I have to say, too, that another thing crossed my mind as I was crossing
the goal line. I was thinking about Dale a little bit," Dre said. "It was
bittersweet. I wanted him to be out there with us, but in spirit he was. We really
dedicated our game to him."
"I was thinking, This is Dales place out here. This was
the kind of play he was conditioned to make, and I sort of mentored him in the off season,
going over our coverage with him and working out with him. I guess I got to know him
pretty well, and I couldnt help but flash back to that after I came down to
That lightning-strike interception return covered 72 yards, and it came at 10:06
of the second quarter. The Owls had been playing ball for less than 20 minutes, had had
three offensive possession, and by golly, had just lit up the scoreboard for 28 points.
Andrays interception return was the coffin nail for Army, according to
Army quarterback David Pevoto.
"We dug ourselves in a hole with that interception," Cadet Pevoto
said, "and we tried to come back. Give credit to Rice. They played a great
Rice didn't look like winless team to Army
Courtney Gordon sloughs off his blocker -- note the Army guy's feet going out from
underneath him (PTH photo)
At that point, middle-aged Pointers in the stands were muttering to
themselves, who are these guys? And how on earth had they managed to lose all
but one of their last 19 games?
The muttering turned to outright expressions of disgust when, on the next drive,
Army fumbled away the ball at the Rice 32 after amounting a creditworthy drive. But on
first and ten from the Rice 32, Chad Price nailed Armys Tony Moore for a loss of
one. Next play, Moore got that yard back but was stifled without further progress by
Marcus Rucker and Will Wood.
Then on third and long, Pevoto hit his receiver David Trimble, but Andray Downs
was there to wrap him up after a short gain. Facing fourth and six, the Army called time
out and cooked up something special on the sideline.
Rice was ready for it. The linebackers came in on Pevoto on the short drop, and
Brian Raines rocked him with a big hit that separated ball and ball carrier.Vernon James
was there to hop on the fumble and the Owls had stopped the Army again.
The Owls almost took it all the way yet again, but this time wound up settling
for a 43-yard Luke Juist field goal. In moving the ball down the field to set up that
three-pointer, Chase Clement distributed his passes to four different receivers: Quinton
Smith; Tommy Henderson, Joel Armstrong, and Jarett Dillard.
The drive-staller for the Owls was an eight-yard sack on Chase Clement by
Armys Cameron Craig, as the Owls faced first and ten from the Army 28. But that kind
of thing didnt happen very often, this day.
It seemed as if the Owls would be taking their 31-7 lead into the halftime
dressing room, as the clock ticked away while Army marched ponderously and fitfully down
When Courtney Gordon sacked Peveto on first and ten from the Rice 29, less than
a minute remained in the half. An incompletion and a quarterback scramble for no gain
depleted the game clock even more. Army faced fourth and 13 from the Rice 32 with only
seconds left on the scoreboard clock when they called time out to discuss the matter.
The Rice defense looked as if it had done its job in yet again keeping Army out
of the end zone, for only a pure prayer could give USMA any relief in this situation. And
thats exactly what they got.
Scrambling under a heavy rush, Army quarterback David Peveto simply reared back
and flung the ball as high and as far as he could, in the general direction of the end
zone. Rices Andray Downs appeared to have his man well-covered, but hesitated just
for a split second as if he had lost the ball in the stadium lights, which were already
burning due to the heavy overcast.
And dag nab it, the Armys Jeremy Trimble reached up and managed to get the
tips of his fingers on the ball, keeping it airworthy for an extra split second. As
Trimble fell to the earth, flat on his back, the ball lodged neatly into his mid-section,
where he cradled it as he fell. Six points, Army.
Concern that late Army TD might have been momentum builder
Jarett Dillard in one of his eleven catches on the day (PTH photo)
After all that effort, and all that one-sided domination of Army, instead
of 31-to-boo, it was 31-14 as the two teams shuffled into their locker rooms at the half.
The prev iously-dead Army crowd had roared back to life, and the Cadets obviously managed
to rescue a little momentum as they anticipated a much closer second half of the game.
"We WILL win," the Army cheer went as the Black Knights came back onto
the field. But curiously, they trotted out rather lackadaisically as a steady drizzle
began to pelt the stadium.
It turned out that Rice indeed did not score on its opening possession of the
second half the first time in the game that that could be said. In fact, the Owls
were kept out of the end zone entirely during the third stanza. They didnt score at
But neither did Army. The stat sheet shows that the Rice offense controlled the
ball for just over 11 minutes of that crucial third quarter, and when you cant get
your hands on the ball, you cant score.
In fact, there were only two possession changes during the third quarter. Rice
held the ball for six plays, opening possession. Army then held onto the pill for eight
plays, covering only 28 yards dring that interim hardly theapproach to take if
youre trying to make up a 17-point second half deficit. Ask Ken Hatfield.
When Army had to punt the ball away at midfield, setting up the Owls at their 20
after the touchback, then came the drive of the game. Speaking of our former coaching
mentor, this drive of the Owls was positively Hatfield-esque. Yet most of it came through
The Owls first overcame a holding penalty with a 21-yard Clement-to-Dillard
strike at the Rice 44. Then they dinked away, keeping the clock running.
When the third quarter time expired, the Owls were sitting pretty at the Army
17, and had held the ball on that single drive for just short of seven minutes.
When the drive appeared to stall at the Army 11, the Owls, facing a fourth and
one, drew a defender offside, Chase alertly taking the snap and spiking the ball so as not
let the Army guy get back onsides.
That gave the Owls first and goal from the six, and two players later, Chase
found his favorite receiver loose in a seam beyond the goal line, and it was six more for
With 38-14 lead, offense was content to slow down, but not
Joel Armstrong makes catch, jukes inside to make a five-yard gain out of a tackle for loss
With a 38-14 lead, the Rice offensive brain trust was content to let the
air out of the tires and let the game clock tick down. But the Rice defense had other
ideas, choosing to make its most spectcular play of the day work to get the ball back into
the hands of the Rice offense with advantageous field position.
On the ensuing kickoff, Chad Price put a huge hit on Armys Corey Anderson,
who coughed up the football to the Owls' Bencil Smith at the Army 23. After the Owls
failed to connect on a couple of end zone passes, Clark Fangmeier nailed his field goal
attempt from 34 yards out, and it was Rice 41, Army 14 with 12:07 left.
Next possession, Army handled the ball on the kickoff, but on third and ten,
when QB Pevoto hit Tim Dunn in the flat, this time it was Andray Downs who applied the
quietus on him. Ball went one way, Army guy went the other, and Chad Price was there to
scoop up the fumble on the fly at the Army 21.
Was it piling on to send Chase Clement out there one more time and throw the
ball, to boot? Not when youve been through the hell the Owls have suffered, on the
field and off, their first four games of the season.
Rice did have its starting skill players on the field, as it scored its sixth
and final touchdown of the day on a nine-yard scoring strike from Chase Clement to Jarett
Dillard. That was Jaretts third touchdown reception of the day, giving him 11
catches in all for 171 yards. It was the biggest day for an Owl receiver since the Tommy
"It was just right back at home, like summertime playing catch with
him," said Jarett. (Both he and Chase are from the San Antonio area.) "It felt
good having Joel on the other side because I knew there wouldn't be so much emphasis on
"And Tommy Henderson had an excellent game, Joel, the backs it felt
good not having all the pressure on me to have to get the first down. Just go out there
and play catch with Chase."
Some Army fans in the stands were heard to grumble a bit about that sixth and
final Rice touchdown.
We wont do like Bobby Bowden and say, "It was a possession pass, and
the boy fell down." Nope, the Owls simply had another score in them that they wanted
to put up on the board, so light it up to the tune of 48-14, they did.
Hey, it was bad week. A really, really bad week.
Then again, in a way, it was a really, really inspiring week.
--Paul T. Hlavinka
more post-game interviews from Michie Stadium after Rice's win over Army....
Brian Raines (L), Andray Downs ponder journalists' questions in Michie Stadium interview
room Saturday after the Army game (PTH photo)
Coach Graham: "We know Dale's in a better
"It was just like playing catch"
"All I could think of was, 'don't get caught!'"
"This game shows us that the system works -- but we've still got a lot of work to do,
inside the system"
'Were just going to pull together'
Owls pick themselves up and head
for West Point, game with Army
(Cartoon from 1958 Rice-Army game program cover; game held at Rice
HOUSTON (September 28) Now townsmen of a stiller town, the Rice
Owls aim to swallow their sorrows, at least in regard to the mission at hand, and travel
to the fields of friendly strife at West Point for a Saturday football game with the U. S.
Military Academy, one that has taken on a different perspective in light of the tragic
events affecting Rice football in the past week.
Thursday night, the football team will hold private services for their teammate,
Dale Lloyd, who died Monday morning after collapsing during a light workout the previous
Then Friday morning, the team flies to New York in anticipation of Saturday
afternoons 3:30 p.m. kickoff (2:30 CDT) against the Black Knights. The team will be
staying in northern New Jersey, about an hours drive from the West Point campus. One
would expect it would be a time for the Owl team members to get away by themselves,
reflect, and attain the kind of firm resolution that sometimes can be drawn from such
"Naturally its been a very difficult time," Rice head coach Todd Graham
said. "But were going to press on, and were going to honor Dale in
everything we do for the rest of the season."
"He meant a lot to this team. We recruited Dale; I remember watching his
film and being excited about the future that he had here. He had great promise; a great
future hes been on every trip with us. He had a heart of a champion; he was a
very physical, tenacious person. He loved the blue and gray. He wanted to be a Rice Owl
long before Coach Graham came here."
"His parents would want everyone to know that he was a strong Christian. He
was a man of faith; a man of character. He was a great example of what a student athlete
This week had to be dealt with in phases
Coach Graham admitted that it wasnt easy to get up off the mat and resume
any near a normal workout schedule. First, it was a matter of dealing with the emotional
hit that the sudden notice of Dales death put onto every one of his teammates.
"They were crushed," TG said. "Yesterday in our team meeting,
there wasnt a dry eye in there. They loved Dale; we love each other. We are very
committed to each other. Words cant express the sorrow that each of us have.
Im supposed to be very tough, but I showed emotion to them. Told them it was alright
to show emotion. But weve got to get back up; weve got to get back on that
field. Thats the thing that Dale would want us to do."
"Were just going to pull together and lock arm in arm, and get back
Coach Graham said that his first reaction was that he "couldnt care
less about a football game. At first, I didnt even think about it. And then
Ive had some people talk to me, and Ive talked to Dales parents, and our
team captains, and the consensus was, lets press on."
Who were some of those people Todd spoke to? Well, it turns out that many were
among the major lights and figures of college football today. Coach Graham mentioned
former Baylor coach Grant Teaff. He said he received a gracious call from last weeks
coaching opponent, Bobby Bowden, who spoke with him of the means he employed to come back
from a similar tragedy involving his Seminole team two years ago in the sudden death of
Houstonian and then-current player DeVaughn Darling.
But Todd said perhaps the most moving communication came from the guy hes
going to be standing across the field from on Saturday afternoon current Army head
coach Bobby Ross.
"Bobby Ross called me what a class person he is." Coach Graham
noted. "He said, Todd, youve got to be strong and lead for those
Coach Ross told his press corps this week that he was familiar with the
territory that Todd Graham and his Owls lately have been forced to trod. Or not exactly,
actually, because when Coach Dodd lost his players, none of those deaths occurred during
"I was fortunate there," he said. "One of them died in June,
another one died during spring mini-camp, another one died in the winter, and I had one
player at Georgia Tech who died right after spring ball."
Coach Ross: 'It's not an easy thing'
"Its not an easy thing.," he added. "Theres nothing
in the playbook on how to deal with that. I just turn to my emotions on something like
that. I did call coach and told him how sorry we were because you never want to see
something like that happen to a young man with a great future ahead of him."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rice team and the players
family. Its a tragedy to go through something like that during the season. We
cant afford to take them lightly because any team that plays with that type of
emotion can be dangerous, and we know what theyre capable of doing, despite their
Granted, the Owls are certainly a more competitive team than their 0-4 record
shows, given the nature of the competition theyve faced. But the facts are, that the
Black Knights are 2-2, and might just as easily have been 4-0 thus far this season. A
narrow, 14-6 road loss to Arkansas State began the campaign. Then the Mules came back and
edged Kent State, 17-14 at home.
So far, ho hum. But then the Army invaded neutral site San Antonio for a game
that was expected to be a cakewalk by Texas A&M. But "Old Army" nearly got
its collective ears pinned back by the keydets, with a last - gasp tackle being required
to keep the Black Knights out of the end zone for a win instead of the 28-24,
last-gasp loss they sustained.
Not to be outdone, the Black Knights came back to Texas the next week and
torched Baylor, 27-20, in Waco, and all of a sudden, it appears that the Owls Death
March through September just might be extended for one more week than was expected.
Now the Army returns to the friendly confines of Michie Stadium riding a bigger
high than theyve been able to muster in many a year.
"This teams a good football team," Coach Graham warned.
"Theyre a very, very disciplined football team. Theyre not the, you know,
the physical specimens that weve been playing against so far but they just do
not make mistakes."
"The biggest thing this week has been the emotional challenges that
weve had, and then just getting the kids to understand that were playing a
very, very good football team."
"Weve been looking to this game, too with the staff, and the
players. Its hard not to be glad that the first part of our schedules over
with," he added, referring, of course, to the Murderers Row of Houston, UCLA,
Texas and Florida State, the Flocks first four opponents of the season.
Though Army is talented, its raw material is comparable
This time, although Army has a fine team, the situations a little
different, Todd said. "Theres no excuses. We definitely should be able to go
out and compete with this team and we hope to go win."
"This team were going to play against is not going to make mistakes.
Theyre well-coached and very disciplined, and weve got to make sure that we
have those mistakes weve been making corrected."
"Theyve got a lot of confidence right now, playing A&M the way
that they did, and beating Baylor, and having the best record theyve had there in a
"But this is a team that theres no doubt that we should be able to
play with. And to get to where we want to go as a program, weve got to be able to go
The Black Knights are led on offense by quarterback David Pevoto, an experienced
hand whos exhibited competent, if not flashy, play at every turn of the season so
far. In the win against Baylor, he completed 15-of-22 passes for 138 yards and tossed his
first career touchdown pass.
Hes ably backed up by running backs Wesley McMahand and Tony Moore,
whove definitely had more ups than downs so far this season. The sophomore McMahand is diminutive, going only 5-foot-6, 171
pounds, but he ground out 93 yards on 22 carries against Baylor last week giving
him 286 yards thus far this season.
His running mate, Tony Moore, was the guy who was stopped for no gain on the
last play of the A&M game coulda been quite the hero, had he been able to
find the goal line on that play.
However, last week against Baylor he rebounded by scoring two Tds himself. Like
almost all Army players, hes a game, never-say-die kind of athlete.
Quarterback Pevoto told press he was enthused about the performance of his two
running backs. "Theyve been running great and a lot of credit goes to the
offensive line for that, but theyve been breaking tackles and getting lots of yards
after contact too," he said. "Tony (Moore) has a little more power, while Wesley
(McMahand) has a little more speed and quickness. Well need them to perform well
again this week to beat Rice."
Defensively, the Knights could be said to be a little less polished than on
offense, but naturally they feature a disciplined, swarming defense that might give up 10
or 15 yards on one play and then come back and nail their man in the backfield the next.
Defensive leaders for Army include LB Barret Scruggs, DT Tony Fusco, DE Cameron
Craig and LB Charlie Rockwood. Cadet Rockwood faced the media Monday and, boy, was he
"Weve never been .500 since Ive been here," he noted.
"People can start to speculate that we have two easy games and we will be 4-2, but
those games will be decided on the field."
" Were treating Rice just like we have all our opponents this year:
like its the last game of our lives. I think taking one game at a time is the key to
The latest word from the floor of Rice Stadium is that the Owl team is getting
itself back off the mat and getting ready to play a creditable football game against Army.
"Weve had good workouts this week," Coach Graham told us earlier
today. "You know I think theyre tired; Im sure theyre not sleeping
real well, but weve had decent workouts."
"I wouldnt tell you theyve been great workouts. But I know the
kids are focused and they are determined to go out and represent Rice and our program the
way we want it to be represented."
Coach Graham on the workouts this
week, upcoming Army game....(Sept. 28)