Army rushes for 449 yards, squashes Liberty 38-14
By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: September 8, 2018
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Army assistant coach Mike Viti calls fullbacks Darnell Woolfolk and Calen Holt "War Horses" and they came ready for battle Saturday.
After a disappointing rushing effort in a season-opening loss at Duke, the Black Knights returned to smash-mouth football featuring their fullbacks.
Woolfolk, Holt, Connor Slomka and Andy Davidson combined for 259 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-14 victory over Liberty in the Black Knights' home opener before 25,133 fans at Michie Stadium.
"It's basically driving our knees, keeping two hands on the football and breaking tackles," said Holt, who scored Army's first touchdown from 25 yards out in the first quarter. Deflecting praise, though, he added: "We are a heavy run team so it's always about the offensive line and not the B-backs (fullbacks)."
Perhaps the most important statistic for Army in its eighth consecutive home win, the program's longest streak since winning 14 from 1984-86, was zero fumbles on 74 carries. The Black Knights, who finished with 449 yards on the ground, rebounded from five fumbles (two lost) at Duke.
Army's coaching staff showed confidence in Woolfolk, who was stripped on the second play from scrimmage last week. He carried the ball on Army's first four plays as the Black Knights made an adjustment to Liberty's 3-4 defense — Army had practiced for a 4-3 front this week. Woolfolk, a senior co-captain, finished with a team-high 98 yards and the 24th and 25th rushing touchdowns of his career.
"It really starts with the offensive line," Woolfolk said. "We trust our offensive line, which makes it easy to just hand the ball off to the fullback. It always feels good to get your number called but I wouldn't be able to do what I did today without the offensive line. They did a fundamental job today."
Army (1-1) overcame seven first-half penalties, totaling 100 yards. Three were flags for blocking below the waist. The Black Knights, who led 24-0 after Kelvin Hopkins' 44-yard touchdown pass to Christian Hayes, also withstood a 14-point Liberty surge in the third quarter that trimmed Army's lead to 10 points.
Coach Jeff Monken said his eyes popped out of his head like Roger Rabbit, the 1980s cartoon movie character, when he looked at the halftime stat sheet.
"That's not who we are," Monken said. "What was particularly frustrating about the penalties is that they were big penalties. Seven penalties for 100 yards ... Holy Moly, that's a lot of yards to lose."
Army played penalty-free football in the second half, an effort that will be needed when Hawaii, winners of its first two games — including a 59-41 victory over Navy — visits Saturday.