Army hosts Lafayette hoping to break 2-game skid
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) Army's three-game road swing is over, and the Black Knights hope a return home will get them out of their funk.
After starting the season with three straight wins, Army has dropped an overtime game at Buffalo and last week lost 13-6 at Duke in steady rain, the effects of Hurricane Matthew.
Michie Stadium on a sunny Saturday against FCS opponent Lafayette (1-5) seems like the perfect antidote.
''We have had a couple tough weeks away,'' Army coach Jeff Monken said. ''We had a chance to win the (Duke) game, and it is disappointing when you come close and see all the little things you could have done to make the difference.''
Against Duke, the Black Knights' relentless triple-option attack was held under 200 yards rushing for the first time this season. The storm produced stiff wind and driving rain, making every punt, pass and kick difficult. The teams combined for 93 passing yards and averaged 3.4 yards per play, There were as many punts (17) as first downs.
Still, Army had its chances with 15 possessions and failed time after time to capitalize.
''We saw a chance to win, but we couldn't sustain anything on offense,'' Monken said. ''We had several drives that were three plays and a punt, or fourth and short. It was frustrating to all of us.''
The poor ground game dropped Army to No. 2 nationally in rushing, but the average of 332.8 yards per game is more than enough to grab the attention of the Leopards.
''I think we're definitely going to be prepared for it, even though none of us are really familiar with it (triple option),'' Lafayette defensive lineman Dante Lonardo said.
Army will be the first FBS team for Lafayette since 1997, so there will be a sense of urgency for the Leopards.
''Every possession that we're getting the ball, we're going to have to score,'' Leopards wideout Matt Mrazek said. ''They can't just end in points. We need them to end in touchdowns.''
The Leopards are coming off a 58-34 loss at Fordham, and the Lafayette defense took a big hit in that one. Fordham put up 516 yards rushing, not a good omen for Saturday.
Other things to know when Lafayette visits Army:
NO TRAP GAME: Monken has a quick answer for anybody who thinks Lafayette represents one of those so-called trap games.
''There are no trap games at Army,'' the third-year coach said. ''If we know who we are, we'll realize that there's not a single team in this country that we can take lightly.''
DISCIPLINED LEOPARDS: Lafayette ranks first in the FCS for fewest penalties per game (3.67), fifth for fewest penalties (22), second for fewest penalty yards per game (35.7), and 14th for fewest penalty yards (214).
SHUTDOWN CITY: The Army defense is fifth in the nation in total defense and ninth in scoring defense, allowing fewer than 16 points a game. The Black Knights held Duke scoreless in the second half, the third time this season Army has blanked its opponent for a half.
MRAZEK DELIVERS: The Army defenders will have to keep close watch on Mrazek, who's enjoying a nice junior season. Mrazek has 42 catches for 454 yards and eight touchdowns and is averaging 90 yards a game receiving.
ARMY HOME RULE: This will be the 19th game in the series, and Army is 17-1 since the first meeting in 1893. Lafayette's lone win was 19-0 in 1940, the second meeting between the teams. All games have been played at West Point.
AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.com