Monday, October 19, 2015

Thoughts on Bucknell & Reunion Weekend

The Class of 1995 had our twentieth class reunion up at West Point this weekend, and it was a blast.  It coincided with Army's game against Bucknell, and despite what I said last week, enough of my classmates told me that they've been enjoying these write-ups that I guess I'm going to have to keep doing them for the rest of the season.

If you're wondering, I finally finished the scene in the new Sneax book that was giving me so much trouble last week, so from that standpoint I suppose I don't have any excuse for not working on the blog.  "Sneakatara Boatman and the Mystery of Mordecai's Monster" was only supposed to be a short story, but now it's sitting at just under eighty pages and 35K words, and I'm not quite to the halfway mark.  That puts it about on par with "Priest of Loki" and "Crown of Pluto," which means that I'll have to fill out that third book with a couple of short stories--as I've done with the previous books--but that's not some insurmountable problem.  What's an issue is that there is no way I'll be done with the new draft before the New Year no matter what I do because the story has run so long, and in the meantime, I have other writing goals besides just working on Sneax-stuff (I want that to be a German word, i.e. "Sneaxstuff").  I need to find a way to balance blogging and writing in some kind of orderly but aggressive manner.

We'll see how that goes.
After last week's debacle against Duke, I thought for sure that the Army team was going to come out with guns blazing and try to hang fifty on an inferior opponent.  That didn't happen.  Whether it was hangover from the previous week or the accumulation of injuries over the course of the season or just Army's inescapable sloppiness, the game with Bucknell was a surprisingly even contest in which Army was lucky to get a win.

Neither side could get much going early.  Army couldn't get any push on the inside, and Bucknell did a good job of stopping Bradshaw in the first quarter, and at least initially, Army's defense was more than a match for the Bisons' offense.  That led to a seemingly endless series of punts.  As the second quarter started, I told my wife, "This game is unwatchable.  These teams both look terrible."

It couldn't last, unfortunately.

Starting quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw went out--I think it was early in the second quarter--with what looked like an arm injury.  That brought firstie AJ Schurr into the game, and he promptly threw two terrible interceptions deep down the field.  Both picks came on the same play call, and frankly, I have no idea what Schurr saw.  The receiver ran what looked like a deep corner (9) route, and Schurr threw a strike to the defending safety standing at the numbers.  Army's receiver was nowhere in sight.  He did this twice.

Army on offense early in the game.
My regular seats are MUCH closer than this.
It's been warm all season, but we froze this week.  Luckily, Sally had this hat that
my friend Trisha made.  Trisha couldn't be at the reunion, unfortunately.
At the same time, Bucknell started getting traction with their slotback running off-tackle.  Bucknell scored but missed an extra point, then Army scored, but then Bucknell scored again just before the half and completed a two-point conversion to make the score 14-7 at halftime.

It looked ugly.  Bucknell would convert all of two third downs in this game and get called for nearly 150 yards in penalties--mostly false starts--but Army turned it over three times, and that kept the Bison in the game.

I hesitate to say that Army looked better in the second half, but they played a bit less sloppy on offense, and they made an adjustment on defense to stop Bucknell from running off-tackle.  I don't think the Bison gained more than fifty yards after the break.  Army's offense still had trouble getting any yardage with the fullback dive, and one of the slotbacks mishandled a pitch to ruin an otherwise promising drive, but Army was generally the better team.  I think the problem was the fullback.  Army's best fullback is Aaron Kemper, but he didn't play.  Plebe Drue Harris carried most of the load in the middle, and yeah, he played okay, but he's simply not as strong a runner as Kemper is.  With Schurr in the game, the Black Knights threw quite a bit, but they didn't complete many passes, and they just looked... out of sync.  They eventually tied it up in the third, but they never ran with any authority, and that's concerning against a middling team from the FCS Patriot League.

Still, Army got the ball with maybe five minutes left in the game and started driving.  Amazingly, they ran that same deep passing play--against excellent coverage--and Schurr threw a rainbow short, and it hung in the air for half a minute at least.  Bucknell's defender ran trailing coverage, and he was in better position by far to make a play on the ball, but Army receiver Edgar Poe out-jumped the coverage, snatched the ball, stuck the landing, and turned to run it in for a miracle touchdown.  AJ Schurr and the Army team were saved from ignominious defeat.  Army got an interception of its own on the next play from scrimmage, and that was your ballgame, Army 21, Bucknell 14.

Sally, Tanya, and I stayed around to sing the Alma Mater with most of the swimmers.  A bunch of my friends abandoned the team for dead earlier in the game--the tailgate was well underway by the time we got down there--so we walked down the hill with the diehards, found the enormous, gigantic tent that was the Class of '95 tailgate, and preceded to get into it.  

Swimmers from the Class of '95.
The football game was close, but we crushed the tailgate.
A good time was had by all.

1 comment: