Monday, November 10, 2014

Football Invades Yankee Stadium

Football Invades Yankee Stadium
(Photos by Gary Quintal)

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 10- The first of three college football games scheduled to be played in Yankee Stadium during the remaining days of 2014 took place on Saturday afternoon, November 8. The Black Knights of Army (3-6) and the University of Connecticut Huskies (2-7, 1-4) met on the gridiron at the baseball cathedral on 161st Street. 

The first big event at Yankee Stadium since Derek Jeter’s final game in the Bronx on September 25 drew tens of thousands to the neighborhood for the weekend festivities. Both sides of River Ave. were filled with spectators watching a large contingent of West Point Cadets march from 153rd Street to the ballpark’s entrance. As always, the 161st Business Improvement District (161 BID) led by its executive director Cary Goodman provided a warm welcome to visitors, whether attending the game or not. Youth Ambassadors of the local organization distributed maps of the area and local restaurants and sports bars gave free souvenir footballs to its patrons. 

The 27,453 fans inside the stadium were entertained by the West Point Band and Glee Club and a demonstration by the West Point Parachute Team before the contest and heard a stirring rendition of God Bless America sung by Master Sgt. Mary Kay Messenger at the conclusion of the third quarter. They also were treated to an exciting football contest whose result was not decided until the final minute of action.

Both teams began the game with disappointing identical win/loss marks, 2-6, under their first year coaches, Bob Diaco at Connecticut and Jeff Monken at Army. Army took a 14-0 lead with two short runs after lengthy drives. Quarterback Angel Santiago began its successful game-long ground attack with a two-yard touchdown run with 1:53 remaining in the first quarter. Coach Diaco of the Huskies felt the game changed at that point, “At 14-0, the game changed. The opportunities for the opposition became too few.”

At 8:39 of the second quarter, Joe Walker ran the ball across the goal line for the Black Knights.  

Santiago only threw three passes, two completed, for Army, but had a net gain of 97 yards on 25 carries. His second touchdown was scored on a 1 yard rush in the fourth quarter. 

Walker scored a second touchdown on a two-yard rush in the third. 

The third touchdown for the Huskies with 2:08 left in the contest brought the score to 28-21. The Connecticut kicker made an on-side kick that was recovered by the Huskies on their own 48. UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer led the drive to the Army 6. On the drive, he carried three times for a total of 43 yards himself. 

The Huskies were six yards away from tying the game when Whitmer’s last pass was intercepted by Chris Carnegie on the Army 1 and carried 99 yards for the final score of the game with 28 seconds remaining.

Army coach Monken praised the junior for his second interception of the game, “I can’t say enough for the play by Chris Carnegie. It was  a huge play for the team.”

Coach Diaco did not feel the one play was the cause for his team’s loss, “That play did not lose the game. There were too many errors on offense. We didn’t execute well enough; we didn’t play well enough.”

On November 22, college football will return to Yankee Stadium as Leigh and Lafayette will compete in their 150th game, the longest rivalry in college football history.

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