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Shocking injury, penalties overshadow game

October 17, 2010

Army QB Trent Steelman shows a look of disgust after punting on last-minute drive. (Danny Wild for USMA)

It would be fairly absurd to gripe about Army’s miscues and issues in Saturday’s game following the news that Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand suffered a spinal-cord injury and is paralyzed below the neck, the school announced Sunday.

One of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen in football. The video clips on ESPN — if you even choose to watch — don’t do justice how vicious and hard that hit was. Thankfully Malcolm Brown walked away from it. It was a collective “ohhhh” from the crowd, and the entire stadium fell completely silent — and that’s a cliched phrase you hear a lot of times, but it was total silence. Really a horrific moment.

Rutgers junior defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, being carted off en route to Hackensack Medical Center, suffered a spinal-cord injury in the Scarlet Knights' 23-20 overtime win over Army on Saturday and is paralyzed below the neck. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Ed Mulholland, who is an outstandingly talented photographer (and Rutgers fan) captured an incredibly moving image of LeGrand’s mother during the time he lay motionless on the field. It actually gives me chills just looking at it.

Just a terrible moment, we are all thinking of him. I’ve already seen many of the Army players posting well-wishes for him today.

Most of Ed’s photos were of Rutgers, if you’re interested in his take from the game.

The game … billed as the first NCAA match at the mammoth stadium — very deflating. I think anyone who saw it (or listened to it) had to feel it was certainly one that Army should have won. Jared Hassin and Trent Steelman again were great and carried an offense that was excelling in the first half and dormant thereafter; both had over 100 yards rushing against a Rutgers defense that entered the game ranked No. 10 in the nation in run defense.

I thought Steve Erzinger had another big game, and Jarrett Mackey is really making his presence felt now in the pass rush. Mackey, Marcus Hilton, Josh McNary and Mike Gann are a handful for most offenses to handle — Army had eight sacks. We even saw guys like Donnie Dixon getting some good pressure.

Regarding the meltdown — Army earlier this week boasted about being first in the nation in turnovers — Rich Ellerson summed it up fairly well:

“We don’t win the turnover battle and we don’t win the mental game because we have crucial, painful, just excruciating penalties in critical situations.”

Photos:

Sean Westphal (22) and Kingsley Ehie lead Army onto the field; players touch a cherished plaque (right) as they step onto the field. Army honored the 2nd Infantry Division with a flag and uniform patches. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Command Sergeant Major Anthony Mahoney gazes into the crowd before kickoff. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Trent Steelman ran 27 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. (Danny Wild/USMA)

George Jordan (right) and Army sprint onto the field. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Josh Jackson (left) fights for a few yards on a kickoff. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Army senior Pat Mealy looks to avoid Rutgers' Joe Lefeged. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Alex Carlton attempts (and misses) a field goal in the first after Brandon Bing (23) supplied some serious pressure. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Army's A.J. Mackey is not pleased after West Point's drive ends with a missed field goal. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Senior captain Marcus Hilton watches the game on one of the Meadowlands' video screens. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Army QB Trent Steelman looks for a hole against Steve Beauharnais and Rutgers. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Malcolm Brown (23) runs the left side with blocking partner Pat Mealy. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Steve Erzinger reacts after sacking Chas Dodd (right). (Danny Wild/USMA)

Zach Watts (53) celebrates after Sean Westphal (22) recovered a fumble. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Malcolm Brown dashes outside for a nice gain. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Jarrett Mackey continues to impress with his pass-rushing skills, nailing Chas Dodd in the fourth on third down. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Trent Steelman runs for the endzone in overtime. Army would settle for a field goal. (Danny Wild/USMA)

OG Frank Allen watches from the bench late in the fourth quarter. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Steve Erzinger had another big game. Here, he pops Chas Dodd in the fourth. (Danny Wild/USMA)

An Army officer watches the game from the West Point sideline. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Donnie Dixon pressures Chas Dodd in the fourth. Rutgers took a delay of game penalty the following play before forced a punt with a sack. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Trent Steelman (8), Jared Hassin (7) and Anees Merzi (73) watch an instant replay at the Meadowlands after Steelman's goaline fumble was reviewed by officials. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Trent Steelman crosses the goaline for a touchdown. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Marcus Hilton hits Chas Dodd late, garnering a personal foul penalty. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Josh McNary has been going to the gym, it seems. (Danny Wild/USMA)

L.B. Brown hunts down Jeremy Deering of Rutgers. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Jared Hassin tramples the Rutgers defense in the second quarter. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Jared Hassin runs up the middle for a huge gain. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Jared Hassin finally goes down in the endzone, giving Army a 6-0 lead. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Jared Hassin and Trent Steelman celebrate the fullback's touchdown. (Danny Wild/USMA)

One of the best things about shooting in the Meadowlands was the blanket of red fans that created a pink background for almost every photo I took:

Derek Bisgard looks up at a video screen during the first half. (Danny Wild/USMA)

DE Josh McNary (left) screams as he's congratulated by Mike Gann following a sack. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Josh Jackson says incomplete. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Army head coach Rich Ellerson's expression sums up the second half. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Army and Rutgers battle in the third quarter. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Lt. General David Huntoon, 58th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, watches from the Army sideline during the third quarter. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Michael McDermott looks on as Eric LeGrand is helped by medical staff. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Seth Reed watches from the bench during Rutgers' final regulation drive. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Stephen Anderson wraps up Mohamed Sanu. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Rutgers celebrates the overtime win following an official review. (Danny Wild/USMA)

L-R: Superintendent Lt. General David Huntoon, Jordan Trimble (20), Trent Steelman (8) and West Point stand during the playing of the USMA Alma Mater following a 23-20 overtime loss to Rugters. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Here’s a gallery of my images from the game on Flickr.

A photo album with some of my images, along with those of Tommy Gilligan of West Point’s Pointer View newspaper, is featured on Army’s website.

Sal from the Record has some interesting thoughts on the game, from questionable officiating (Ellerson told the media it was “a well-officiated football game”) to miscommunication between Steelman and Brian Cobbs on a pivotal third down, to an array of player comments (McNary, asked if he ever dreamed Army would lose after recording eight sacks: “Never.”) Chet Gordon’s photos from the game can be seen in a slideshow on the Record’s site.

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