Army 21, Rice 21
Army 21, Rice 21
Sep. 30, 1995
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) _ ``Doc'' Blanchard and Glenn Davis used to win games with their legs when they led Army to consecutive national championships 50 years ago, ``Mr. Inside'' punishing the line and ``Mr. Outside'' running to daylight in the open field.
On Saturday, they watched from the sidelines as J. Parker used his kicked a 44-yard field goal as the final gun sounded, giving Army a 21-21 tie with Rice. There was no victory on this day, but considering the audience and what Army football has been through in the last year, the smiles afterward were understandable.
A contingent of more than 50 players from those great Army teams of Blanchard and Davis were in attendance this time.
``We're part of a tradition here,'' said coach Bob Sutton, whose Black Knights lost four games in 1994 by 15 total points and were coming off two heartbreaking losses. Army (1-2-1) was on the Washington 1-yard line when time expired in a 21-13 a week earlier and had lost 23-21 to Duke the previous game.
``We wanted to live up to our responsibility, to show probably the greatest team in the history of college football, in the greatest era of college football, that the fact they entrust the tradition to us, it's in good hands,'' Sutton said.
Army gambled four times on fourth down in the final quarter and failed three times. But the one the Black Knights did convert came in the final minute _ Ronnie McAda gained 6 yards on a fourth-and-4 play _ and set up the tying field goal.
Army, out of timeouts, gained control at its own 20-yard line with 1:46 to play and rushed down the field in 13 plays. McAda completed 5 passes for 41 yards and spiked the ball three times to stop the clock before Parker got the call.
``I blocked it out, I don't remember,'' Parker said. ``I took my steps and realized it's a gametime kick. I feel I do better in gametime than practice. Sometimes, my mind wanders in practice.''
Trailing 21-7 early in the third quarter, Army rebounded on two field goals by Parker and a 5-yard touchdown run by Steve Carpenter to salvage a game the Black Knights seemingly had lost.
``I'm not satisfied in the least,'' said Ron Thomas, who caught 5 passes for 42 yards. ``We expected to come in and do well. But a tie is better than a loss. We just got to come out and get into our rhythm a little quicker.''
Rice (1-2-1), coming off a 52-7 drubbing by LSU, took the second-half kickoff and scored in just 2:11 to take a two-touchdown lead. Josh LaRocca hit Jeff Venghaus with passes of 14 and 18 yards on the first two plays to move the ball quickly to the Army 33. Five plays later, Keilone Gordon scored on a 14-yard run and Army was reeling.
The Black Knights refused to give in. Parker kicked a 42-yard field goal to pull Army within 21-10 and the defense held Rice scoreless for the final 27:49.
``We've been down, but we're always going to come back,'' defensive end Al Roberts said. ``It's all about believing. If you believe, good things will happen.''
Good things were happening to the Owls at the outset. They entered the game with a dismal third-down conversion rate of .211 (8-for-38), converted 5 of 6 third-down chances against Army in the first half and gained a 14-7 lead at intermission.
``We scored to start the second half and let them get back into it,'' said LaRocca, who was 14-for-22 for 153 yards. ``I'm sick right now.''
Army took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards to a 7-0 lead. John Conroy, who gained 166 yards on 24 carries against Washington, scored on an 8-yard run, but the Black Knights would not score again until midway through the third quarter.
LaRocca, mixing the pass and option to near perfection, led Rice to the tying score early in the second quarter, hitting split end Thad Bridges on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 11:54 remaining.
``Our goal is to win the (Southwest Conference) championship and a bowl,'' nose guard Larry Thompson said. ``We need to get five more wins in our next seven games, and everybody in the conference is playing great. We've made it real tight for ourselves.''