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Army runs over Morgan State behind new QB

The SportsXchange

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Angel Santiago is no longer Army's understudy at quarterback.

In just his second start as Army's quarterback, Santiago rushed for 116 yards, passed for 101 yards and accounted for all four touchdowns in the Black Knights' 28-12 win over Morgan State Friday night before 24,245 at Michie Stadium.

Santiago, a prep star from San Bernadino, Calif., rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another.

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound junior quarterback was the third-string quarterback in 2011 and 2012, carrying the ball just 53 times in two seasons. A.J. Schurr was in line to replace four-year starter Trent Steelman for the Black Knights, but a good spring campaign vaulted Santiago ahead of him.

While Steelman was the focus of Army's intricate triple offense that paced the county in rushing yardage in 2011 and 2012, Santiago provides coach Rich Ellerson with a pocket passer capable of throwing the long ball.

Only twice did Army pass for more than 100 yards in a game in 2012.

"Angel did some great stuff tonight," Ellerson said. "He took some shots downfield. That kind of play from the quarterback will help you win.

"That's a great first outing for him."

Against Morgan State, Santiago was able to blend the run with the pass. He had plenty of support in the Army backfield in the form of Larry Dixon, Raymond Maples and Hayden Tippett, who combined for 18 carries for 130 yards, mainly between the tackles.

"That was part of Angels' success," Ellerson said. "He had some veteran players around him. It's a veteran backfield and that's going to give Angel a chance to work out some kinks in his game.

"When you can be that accurate in a power offense that really stresses a defense."

Morgan State, an FCS school, had a difficult time moving the ball against an Army defense that returned seven starters from a unit that allowed 35 points a game last season. Junior running back Lamont Brown paced the Bears with 75 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The 52 rushing attempts by Morgan State were the most by the school since 51 carries against Hampton in 2008. Morgan State averaged just 3.6 yards a carry on Friday night.

Geoffery Bacon, who led the Black Knights in tackles last season, moved from linebacker to free safety in the spring and was a disruptive force in the secondary. The 6-foot, 207-pound junior led his team with 12.5 tackles.

The Army defense recorded five tackles for 22 yards in losses.

Army held just one opponent under 20 points in its 2-10 season in 2012.

Quarterback Robert Council, who replaced starter Morgan State Seth Higgins in the second quarter, scored a touchdown and hit wide receiver Chris Flowers with a 22-yard TD pass down the left sideline in the third quarter for the final score of the game.

Santiago scored his third TD of the humid evening by sprinting in from the 3-yard-line, ending a five-play, 65 yard drive early in the third quarter, providing Army with a 28-6 cushion.

Army scored on its first three possessions of the game and led 21-6 at the half.

Santiago rushed for 97 first-half yards and passed for 101.

Santiago accounted for 69 of the Black Knights' 95 yards on Army's first scoring drive. Santiago rushed for 37 yards on two carries, including a 33-yard TD scamper, and passed for 32.

He directed a quick seven-play, 88-yard drive after Morgan State went three-and-out. On that drive, Santiago rushed for 63 yards, ending the march with a one-yard dive with 3:11 left

"A lot of the success came from the receivers and the offensive line," admitted Santiago.

Army opened the second quarter with a quick scoring strike when Santiago connected with wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence on an 18-yard TD pass.

Morgan State went 82 yards in 18 plays for its only touchdown of the first half. Council bolted in from the one with 2:50 remaining in the second quarter. The extra-point attempt failed.

"We had a tough time moving the ball in the first half," said Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley. "Roughly we had to get the young men settled down in the half. We had eight penalties in the first half and we knew they were one of the most disciplined teams in the nation."

Army wasn't flagged for a penalty the entire game.

"We got caught up with some emotions early in the game."

Despite losing by two touchdowns, Morgan State won the time of possession -- 34:28 to 25:32.

NOTES: This was the first meeting between Army and Morgan State. ... Morgan State was picked to finish 10th in the preseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference poll. ... Army returned six of its top eight rushers from 2012's squad that led the nation with 369.8 yards rushing per game. ... Santiago received the starting quarterback nod over sophomore A.J. Schurr who was Trent Steelman's understudy in 2012. Steelman graduated as Army's third-all time rushing leader with 3,320 yards.
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