'Best' and 'Worst' Awards: Temple vs. Army

WEST POINT, N.Y. – My look at some of the best and worst performances and happenings from Temple’s 63-32 victory over Army on Saturday at Michie Stadium:

Best player: How can you not give this honor to Montel Harris? The Temple tailback left West Point with one of the best rushing performances in the history of college football. The Boston College transfer had 36 carries for 351 yards and seven touchdowns.  His rushing yards and rushing touchdowns were new school and Big East records. Harris’ touchdowns runs came from 60, 1, 1, 37, 2, 37 and 1 yard out.

Worst performance: Unable to single out one player, I had to give this to Army’s defense as a whole. The Black Knights surrendered 534 rushing yards or 9.4 yards per carry. Harris wasn’t the only Owl to run wild. Matt Brown had 71 yards on four carries before suffering a game-ending, second-quarter hamstring injury. Quarterback Juice Granger had 85 yards on nine carries, while Jamie Gilmore added 49 yards on six runs.

Best performance by a defensive player:  Tyler Matakevich’s 13 tackles and a fumble recovery make the Owls weakside linebacker the logical pick to win this award.  Can you believe he didn’t begin the season as a starter? From backup to all-Big East candidate, you know this freshman is making folks back in Connecticut proud.

Worst luck: This goes to Matt Brown. Before leaving with an injury, Brown – not Harris – was the game’s dominant player. He averaged 17.8 yards on his four carries. The senior also had touchdown runs of 12 and 36 yards. Brown was on pace to rush for 284 yards before the injury. Instead, he played in what appears to be his last game at as an Owl.

Luckiest unit: While the Owls linebackers, safety Vaughn Carraway and cornerback Anthony Robey racked up a bunch of tackles, the other members of the Owls defense were nothing more than bystanders. The Black Knights rushed for 407 yards. Quarterback Trent Steelman had 139 yards on 20 carries. Fullback Larry Dixon had 106, while running back Raymond Maples finished with 94. Army moved the ball at will. The Owls are lucky the Black Knights defense couldn’t stop Harris & Co. If they did, the outcome may have been different.

Best statistic:  I had to give this to the Owls’ third-down conversions. Temple converted 6 of 9 third downs. That had to be refreshing for a team that struggled throughout the season on third downs.

Best of the Best:  The game-day atmosphere at West Point was one of the best I’ve experienced in my 18 years as a reporter. There were so many great moments that it was hard to point out one. But this was an experience I won’t soon forget.