Despite having a three-point lead near the end of the fourth quarter, the Eastern Michigan University football team lost 31-27 Saturday to Army at Rynearson Stadium.
This time last year, EMU had just been beaten by Army 27-14. But there were some serious differences Saturday from a year ago.
Going into this game, EMU was more of an underdog. Army’s football team was ranked No. 44 out of 120 by the Orlando Sentinel, while the Eagles were placed at No. 120.
However, when the Eagles came onto the field Saturday night, they made it clear that it was going to be a well-fought win for whoever could pull out of it.
Instead of letting Army through first like they did last season, EMU scored off their opening drive with a five-yard run by senior running back Dwayne Priest. Army had to punt on their first possession, but when the Eagles got the ball back, Priest fumbled it.
Black Knight Jared Hassin had a three-yard touchdown run to end Army’s next drive and tie the game with about three minutes remaining in the quarter.
About halfway through the second quarter, some of the scoreboard, the officials’ headsets and some of the stadium lights went out unexpectedly. Eagles fans were left in the darkening stands for about ten minutes before play resumed and lighting returned.
Another 3-yard touchdown run by Hassin and another 5-yard run by Priest tied the game at 14-14 going into halftime.
The second half began with an Army touchdown less than five minutes after the kickoff. They were also the next to score with a field goal two minutes later.
The Eagles got the last touchdown of the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Alex Gillett rushed the ball one yard and into the end zone with two minutes left. But Jay Karutz failed the extra point kick, and Army led 24-20 going into the final quarter.
The game remained scoreless until there were only about three minutes left on the clock. The Eagles scored off of a ten-yard pass from Gillett to senior tight end Ben Thayer that put the Eagles up 27-24.
However, Army returned the kick beyond the 50 yard line with about one minute left to play. They then ran the field and got into the end zone one last time.
EMU got back down the field, but after many running and passing attempts by Gillett, the Eagles could not find their way back into the end zone.
Army gained 309 yards from rushing, where EMU gained 285— a much better margin than the 323-95 advantage Army had over the Eagles in their encounter last season.
With Saturday’s loss, Eagles coach Ron English’s record with the team is 0-13.
The Eagles suit-up next Saturday to play Miami (Ohio) University.
English said in a press conference they are already looking ahead to their next opponent and will “let this game go after they watch the video.”
“I like winning and this is humbling,” he said. “My job is just to keep these guys together. It’s a young season, and I’m still excited for the rest of it.”
EMU will play the RedHawks at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 in Oxford, Ohio.
See more pictures of the game against Army in our photo gallery.