Darius Jackson was the man on the ground Army needed to stop; the Black Knights couldn’t. Brogran Roback was the man in the pocket Army needed to stop; they didn’t. Turns out it didn’t matter.
Jackson, Eastern Michigan’s leading rusher, gained 141 yards and scored two touchdowns. Roback, the starting quarterback was 28 for 40 for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Turns out it didn’t matter.
The Eagles were playing catch up from the first time Army had the ball, when the Black Knights took an 8-0 lead on their first possession. Eastern Michigan came back with a field goal, and that was the closest it got. After losing their first three games by a combined total of 10 points, Army took no chances Saturday; they had the early lead and piled it on. And when Eastern Michigan came back to close the lead to six, 36-30, the Black Knights responded with touchdowns on their last three possessions. Army’s 58 points were the most it scored since beating Connecticut 62-7 on Oct. 14, 2006.
Army’s 556 yards rushing was exactly 300 more than its previous season high in its 37-35 season-opening loss to Fordham. Ten players – including Army quarterbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and A.j. Schurr – contributed to the total. Aaron Kemper’s career-high 147 yards rushing surpassed by three Ahmad Bradhsaw’s previous season high, accomplished against Fordham. Freshman running back Drue Harris had an impressive first game, rushing for 60 yards and two touchdowns, including a 27-yard run for Army’s eighth and final touchdown.
Army entered the game ranked 45th in the nation in rushing average, with just over 207 yards per game. Its total Saturday almost doubled the 622 yards rushing the Black Knights had entering the game. Their current per-game average is 294.2 yards. Army scored on five of its six trips to the red zone; the Black Knights are 11 of 12 for the season. Their one failure was Saturday, when Schurr was intercepted with the ball at the Eastern Michigan 8.
Each of Army’s eight touchdowns featured at least one big-yardage play. The Black Knights’ first touchdown came on Joe Walker 63-yard touchdown; the second was helped set up with a 17-yard Bradshaw to DeAndre Bell completion. Army scored its third TD on a 56-yard Kemper run. Army got in position for its fourth touchdown when it faked a punt and Matt Giachinta ran for 35 yards.
Bell was the recipient of another big pass, a 44-yarder from Schurr that gave Army a first and goal to set up their fifth touchdown. No. 6 was due in large part to Trainor’s 30-yard run on the last play of the third quarter. A 22-yard run by Trainor was part of the 86-yard drive that netted Army its seventh score. And Army needed only one play for its final touchdown, a 27-yard run by Drue Harris. Defensively, linebacker Jeremy Timpf led with eight solo tackles and forced a fumble. Rhyan England, Andrew King and Xavier Moss each contributed seven tackles and Moss added an interception. England also recovered a fumble for the Black Knights.
The victory was the sixth in seven games between the two teams. Eastern Michigan’s only victory in the series was a 48-38 home victory in 2012; the Black Knights had won the most recent meeting 50-25, in 2013. The win also fought off what would have been a four-game losing streak to start the season. The Black Knights started the 2013 season with four losses, finishing the season 2-10.