With new coaches leading both football squads, Eastern Michigan squared off against Army on Saturday night at Rynearson Stadium.
Much to Ron English’s dismay, Army’s Rich Ellerson was the coach who earned his first win, and his team’s triple-option offense was very effective in handing Eastern a 27-14 loss.
“We were fortunate to win,” Ellerson said. “We did some really good things. We also did some things that you won’t get away with again.”
With the triple option, Army netted 300 yards on the ground. Patrick Mealy rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown. His longest run was 75 yards. Kingsley Ehie ran for a couple of touchdowns and 75 yards.
“This is the ultimate team game,” said Mealy, who didn’t complain about his five carries. “I’m ready to block, catch (and do) whatever it takes to win.”
Army had eight passing yards, but Ellerson said he wasn’t bothered by the inbalance.
“We’re going to be more balanced than that,” he said. “I’m much more concerned about the score.”
English said he wasn’t surprised by the effectiveness of Army’s running game.
“That’s two or three big plays,” he said. “I thought our defense hung in there. The thing about the option is, if you stay out there long enough, they’re going figure out what you’re doing.”
Eastern struggled with its new pro-style offense. It ran a spread last season. It totaled 223 yards and had plenty of penalties. Quarterback Andy Schmitt completed 18-of-31 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions.
Schmitt maintained his strong connection with receiver Jacory Stone, who had eight receptions for 97 yards. Dwayne Priest had 83 rushing yards on 19 carries.
“Anytime there is a transition, particularly one that’s that drastic, there may well be issues,” English said referring to the new offense. “But, for us, that’s no excuse. We’ve had a spring and a fall camp, and it’s just a matter of execution and doing what you’re supposed to do.”
Though there weren’t many bright spots, English did draw some positives from the game.
“I think the team grew in this game,” he said. “It’s just a matter of us understanding how to win, which is difficult. When you really understand winning, you understand that it’s every play. The goal is for everyone to execute every play.”