Who is Joe Walker and where has Army been hiding him?
A valid question after Walker’s performance Saturday against Connecticut, when Walker rushed five times for 31 yards and two touchdowns and caught two more balls for 38 yards, the only complete passes thrown by Army quarterback Angel Santiago. Entering the game, Walker had only six carries all season,
“He’s played a lot of football for us,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “Maybe not as much at slotback, but he’s played a lot on special teams. He threw a touchdown pass against Wake Forest and he’s made some plays for us.”
His more frequent apperances against UConn was based on the injury to Tony Giovanelli.
“My role today, like the other slotbacks was to rotate in and out of the game,” Walker said. ” It was a new thing that the coaching staff wanted to do. We all contributed in our own ways and today I just did what I am coached to do and did whatever another slotback would have done if they got the ball in the same situation. You know, guys like Raymond Maples and Terry Baggett clearing the way for me to get the endzone made it easy for me to walk in there. I just did whast I needed to do.”
The Black Knights’ 325 yards rushing was more in keeping with their usual standard, particularly with the mere 125 yards they gained in last week’s loss to Air Force. Everyone did their part. Santiago led the team with 102 yards on the ground. Maples had 53, Larry Dixon 43, Baggett 43, then Walker. Overall, nine men had rushes for Army.
“That is exactly how it works,” Walker said. “It was just my luck of the draw that my number was called on those plays and at the particular time. If any other slot was in there at the time they would have done the same thing. We have been practicing the same way all week and we are confident all of us can get it done.”
Perhaps. But for at least one week, a new man had that luck.
Army’s victory was its first at Yankee Stadium since defeating No. 9 Syracuse 9-6 Nov. 5, 1960 and ended a 6-game Bronx-losing streak. The Black Knights are 15-21-5 at the Stadium.
Army’s time of possession of 34 minutes, 15 seconds illustrated the effectiveness of its ball-control offense. In all but the fourth quarter did the Black Knights contrtol the ball the majority of the time.
“I think that we let that affect us as an offense,” UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. “The style of offense that they run kind of affected us. We were trying to force things and trying to make plays because we know we’re not going to have very many possessions instead of just sticking to the script. And we did that a couple of times and it resulted in some positive yardage, but you just can’t play like that.”
Whitmer ended the game completing 19 of 31 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Army did not have a turnover. UConn had two passes intercepted, the big one, of course, being Chris Carnegie’s 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute. It made UConn wide receiver Deshon Foxx believe that his team lost the game, rather than Army winning it.
“We had a lot of young guys playing, especially young guys going against an offense like this, it makes it tough, and going against this defense, it’s a solid defense,” he said. “It showed at times, but I definitely feel like we had a chance to win and I feel like we lost the game. There wasn’t much that they had to do; we kind of just gave it to them. “