POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 12, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. » At the end, the proud Corps of Cadets was a stunned, silenced sea of white in the stands of sun-splashed Michie Stadium.
They had just watched their brothers fight the great fight against a bigger, faster and stronger football team at Army's picturesque and historic home field — only to ultimately come up empty.
The Army Black Knights battled back from a three-touchdown deficit to take a lead against Hawaii's Warriors, but the visitors from 4,960 miles away won it 31-28 at the end.
Backup quarterback Max Jenkins replaced starter Trent Steelman after Steelman's shoulder was injured, and Jenkins scored on the 1-yard touchdown run that gave Army its only lead, 28-21, with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
But it was also Jenkins who fumbled when hit by UH end Kamalu Umu as the Black Knights appeared to be driving for a go-ahead score late with the game tied at 28. Aaron Brown recovered for the Warriors.
The officials originally ruled the play dead, with Army retaining the ball. Then, after a longer-than-usual review, possession was awarded to Hawaii.
UH made the most of the opportunity, with two passes from Bryant Moniz to Royce Pollard and a personal foul by Army rover Steve Erzinger setting up Scott Enos' 31-yard game-winning field goal.
The first rule at the academy is don't lie. Apparently, the second is don't make excuses. "You just learn from it and move on," Jenkins said afterward. "There's no point in dwelling on it."
Head coach Rich Ellerson felt the same way, telling his team there was no one call or play to blame in a game that was full of twists and momentum shifts.
"Don't be myopic," the former Hawaii player and assistant coach said. "We had a thousand chances to win that game."
Specifically about the reversed call, he said, "You just bend your knees and take what you get."
The ease at which Hawaii posted 21 points in the game's first 18 minutes — coupled with no first downs for Army in the first quarter — had more influence on the outcome, Ellerson said.
"Three and outs while they're feeling it. You talk about the difference in the football game, you don't have to go much further than that," he said. "You have to look at both sides of the equation.
"If you stood back and looked at the scoreboard (in the first half), you're 'Oh my, they're gonna break that sucker.'"
Army is 1-1. The Black Knights opened their season with a 31-27 win at Eastern Michigan, with a touchdown in the final minute.
"Last week was very similar," said linebacker Stephen Anderson, who had five tackles.
Except this time, Army's opponent owned the final bit of magic.
"I'm proud of how our team took some shots early and battled back. ... We had chances, not just at the end. We had them all the way through," Ellerson said. "We'll get better. The beautiful thing is where we're at as competitors."