Published November 17, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Trent Steelman added more records as his exceptional career at Army nears its end. He'd trade them all for a win in his final game at Michie Stadium.
Montel Harris rushed for a school-record 351 yards and seven touchdowns, Matt Brown scored twice before leaving the game with an injury, and Temple beat Army 63-32 on Saturday for its fifth straight win in the series.
That spoiled Senior Day for Steelman and 21 of his classmates.
"I don't think it's the way you want to finish any game," said Steelman, who scored on runs of 7, 1 and 56 yards. "At the same time, we have one more. We can still go out on the right note and finish the season the right way."
Steelman rushed for 139 yards, giving him five straight 100-yard games and 44 career rushing touchdowns, both school records. Glenn Davis held the record of 43 rushing touchdowns during his stellar career on Army's great teams of the mid-1940s.
It also was Steelman's 12th career 100-yard game, one more than the record held by Tory Crawford for most by an Army quarterback, and Steelman boosted his season rushing total to 1,152 yards, a season record for an academy quarterback.
It was little solace in the end.
"It's worse than a disappointment, it's getting kicked in the gut," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "We have to let that go as quickly as we can. This one is on me."
Harris also broke the Michie Stadium record for rushing yards in a game, eclipsing the mark of 268 set by former Pitt star Tony Dorsett in 1975.
Temple (4-6) snapped a four-game losing streak, all in the Big East, by beating the nation's top rushing team at its own game, gaining 534 yards rushing on 57 carries. Army (2-9), which finished with 407 yards rushing on 62 carries, has lost 16 straight against Big East competition.
Harris, who had 36 carries, scored on a 60-yard run and a 1-yard run in the second quarter, a 1-yard run and a 37-yarder in the third, and a 2-yarder, a 1-yarder and another 37-yarder in the fourth to come within one of the NCAA record set in 1990 by Howard Griffith of Illinois against Southern Illinois.
"It's a blessing to have a record like that," said Harris, who hurt a knee in a loss last week to Cincinnati and hardly practiced for Army. "Our goal is always to run the ball well and have a great game. I didn't see this coming. I started off kind of slow at the beginning of the game."
The Owls built a 28-10 halftime lead as Harris gained 173 yards on just 16 carries, either bulling his way past defenders or racing untouched as the Army defense repeatedly broke down as it did earlier in the season in losses to Northern Illinois and Wake Forest.
Harris scored his first two touchdowns in the waning moments of the first half after Brown had begun to reprise his performance from two years ago at Michie Stadium, scoring on runs of 12 and 36 yards to stake the Owls to a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Two years ago, Brown, subbing for injured star Bernard Pierce, rushed for a career-high 226 yards on 28 carries and scored four times in a 42-35 victory at Michie Stadium.
The 5-foot-5, 165-pound Brown scored was unstoppable again early Saturday, but after Army moved to 14-7 on Steelman's 7-yard run early in the second, Brown limped off the field moments later holding his left hamstring.
When Larry Dixon's 37-yard run set up Eric Osteen's 37-yard field goal, the Black Knights closed within 14-10.
With Brown relegated to spectator, the Owls didn't skip a beat as Harris, the Owls' leading rusher on the season, took over. He scored 47 seconds later on a 60-yard run, scampering untouched into the end zone for a 21-10 lead and added a 1-yard score in the final minute of the opening half.
Temple left the field at the break with a 28-10 lead compliments of 259 yards rushing on just 23 carries.
Army came out in the second half with a vengeance. The Black Knights scored in four plays that took just 63 seconds. Raymond Maples broke a 24-yard run and Dixon followed with a 43-yard dash down the left side to set up Steelman's 1-yard touchdown.
Maples added a two-point conversion to move Army within 28-18, but Temple responded by driving 75 yards in 11 plays that took 6:15 off the clock. Clinton Granger's quarterback keeper for 24 yards on a third-and-5 play kept the drive alive and Harris scored from inside the 1 on another third down for a 35-18 lead midway through the third.
Steelman's 56-yard touchdown run gave the Black Knights renewed hope, but Harris quickly dashed it, scoring on runs of 37 and 2 yards for a 49-24 lead just one play into the fourth quarter.
"They ran all over us, which is kind of an understatement when they have over 500 rushing yards," said senior linebacker Nate Combs.
Now all that's left for Army is archrival Navy in three weeks. A win over the Middies would give Army its first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 1996. Army has already beaten Air Force in the annual round-robin competition for supremacy among the three service academies.
"We have to go back to work," Steelman said.