Chippewas hand Black Knights 10th straight loss

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) -- Kent Smith didn't bury Army with his shovel passes, but they sure did help in the wind and rain.

Smith recovered his own fumble and scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter to give Central Michigan a 14-10 victory over the Black Knights on Saturday at rain-drenched Michie Stadium.

"We play our best football when our back is against the wall," said Smith, whose 5-yard shovel pass on third down to Ontario Sneed gave the Chippewas a key first down on the decisive drive. "Everyone wanted to go out there and make plays."

Central Michigan (3-3) won for the third time on the road and dealt Army (0-5) its 10th straight loss dating to last season.

The game was played in a steady downpour with few fans in the stands for homecoming, save a contingent of cadets. The Black Knights defeated Cincinnati 48-29 a year ago on homecoming to snap a 19-game losing streak and seemed set to break out of their current slump after taking a 14-10 lead late in the third.

Instead, Smith, who was 15-for-25 for 92 yards passing and gained 76 running, spoiled the day by directing a masterful 14-play, 76-yard drive that took 7:12 off the clock. He ran for 38 yards and passed for 31 more on the winning march.

Smith gained 11 yards on second-and-15 and hit Jacob Brown for 5 yards on the next play to keep the drive alive early. He gained another 18 yards on a draw play and then beat an Army blitz by completing a 12-yard pass to Damien Linson that gave the Chippewas a first-and-goal at the 5. Smith scored two plays later with 6:54 left after dropping the snap and quickly scooping it up.

"We were able to spread Army out and run the quarterback today," Chippewas coach Brian Kelly said. "That really saved us on our last drive. Our ability to run Kent on that last drive was crucial."

The defeat spoiled a big day by Scott Wesley, who gained a career-high 150 yards rushing and scored the Black Knights' lone touchdown. He started in place of Carlton Jones, the third-leading rusher in Army history who was out with a pulled abdominal muscle.

"We have to finish the game," said Wesley, whose 27-yard punt return with just over three minutes left gave Army one last chance. "We had it in our hands, but we didn't close it out."

Wesley's return gave Army the ball at the Central Michigan 38, but the Black Knights tried to pass and failed to take advantage of a personal foul against Chippewas defensive end De'Onte Burnam that gave Army a first down at the 23. Zac Dahman's fourth-down pass in the right flat fell incomplete in the face of an all-out blitz.

"I didn't want us to pass," Army coach Bobby Ross said. "We were out of timeouts, but I felt like we should have been running the ball. There was something upstairs that was seen. The [coaches] thought we had it. I could have easily said, 'Don't do it,' and I didn't. It's my fault."

Justin Koenig kicked a 40-yard field goal with 2:04 left in the third quarter to give Army a 10-7 lead. It was the first field goal of the season for Koenig, who replaced Joe Riley.

The inclement weather had an immediate impact. Both teams fumbled away the ball on their first possession, but only the Black Knights capitalized.

Smith had the ball slip out of his hands as he scrambled left and Darren Newson recovered for Army at the Central Michigan 27.

Seth Gulsby and Wesley each had 12-yard runs to give Army a first-and-goal at the 3. Wesley scored on a fourth-and-1 play to give Army a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. It was Wesley's fourth rushing touchdown of the season, and all have come on fourth down.

The Chippewas tied it on Sneed's 29-yard run just over four minutes later.

Army, which was humbled 47-13 last week at home by Connecticut, hits the road now for three straight games. If the losing has begun to take a toll, it isn't yet evident.

"We had a chance to win. I thought we were really resilient," Ross said. "We played a very tough game. It's just a shame it had to go down the drain."