Jim Jennings, Army's defensive tackle, says a quote that appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper helped spur the Cadets to a 10-6 victory today over Michigan State in the first Cherry Bowl.
Nobody knows who said it, but somebody accused Army of having a "Philadelphia Cream Cheese defense." Kind of soft, in other words.
It became a rallying cry for the Cadets, who have brought Army's football program back to national prominence after several years on the downside.
"After the Navy game, there were quotes in the Philadelphia paper about us having a cream cheese defense," said Jennings, who had seven tackles today. "We talked about that and made a vow last night to play solid defense . . . This was my last game and I wanted to go out with a bang."
Quarterback Nate Sassaman rushed for 136 yards, halfback Clarence Jones scored on a four-yard run and Craig Stopa kicked a 38-yard field goal to help the Cadets (8-3-1) to a victory in their first bowl appearance. The Spartans, in their first bowl since 1966, are 6-6.
"This makes our season," said Army Coach Jim Young. "We had a big win over Navy, but if we didn't win today, we'd be a little sad. We're capable of playing big-time college football."
Sassaman, directing Army's wishbone offense, carried 28 times in going over 100 yards for the seventh time this season. He was named the most valuable offensive player of the game although he attempted only two passes -- and one of those was intercepted by free safety Phil Parker, named the outstanding defensive player.
"I was looking for a good game to end my career on," said Sassaman, who pulled a hamstring in the third quarter and wore a flak jacket to protect cracked ribs. "I was really sucking it down for a while, but I have the rest of my life to heal."
A patient, time-consuming offense allowed Army to control the ball for 34:05 while allowing the Spartans only 25:55 on offense.
Army's defense sacked quarterback Dave Yarema four times, intercepted three passes -- two by Doug Pavek -- and recovered a fumble. Both of Army's scores came after Michigan State turnovers.
Jones' touchdown came with 6:41 remaining in the first half and completed a 46-yard, eight-play drive. Stopa's field goal with 8:40 remaining gave the Cadets a 10-0 lead.
However, the Spartans went 51 yards in three plays, with Bob Wasczenski catching a 36-yard touchdown pass over two defenders with 4:19 remaining.