Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz went 24-of-40 and threw for a season-high 335 yards to go along with a touchdown and an interception, but it was not enough as the Eastern Michigan University football dropped its second straight game, 28-10 to the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights on Saturday.
“We moved it [the ball] obviously, we had 80 offensive plays, but not enough points.” head coach Ron English said in a postgame interview on emueagles.com. “You miss field goals and it destroys the momentum of the team.”
Despite the loss, EMU out-gained Rutgers on offense, 373 to 274 and had 21 first downs compared to 12 for the Scarlet Knights.
The Eagles are now 0-49 all-time against Bowl Championship Series schools and will have to wait until next season to break the drought.
The running game was a non-factor for the second straight week as junior Bronson Hill had 13 carries for 30 yards and left in the third quarter with an unknown injury, while junior Ryan Brumfield carried the ball seven times for only 21 yards.
Junior tight end Tyreese Russell led all receivers for EMU (1-2) with nine catches for 84 yards, both career highs.
Sophomore wide receiver Dustin Creel had his best performance of the season with four receptions and 77 yards, highlighted by a 31-yard catch in the second quarter.
Field goal kicking was a problem again as sophomore Dylan Mulder made only one of his three attempts on the day. His only make was from 39 yards and missed from 31 and 42.
For Rutgers (2-1), sophomore running back Paul James had a day to remember as he carried the ball 20 times for 191 yards and scored three touchdown runs of 13, 55 and 52.
Junior quarterback Gary Nova left the game in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury and did not return as senior Chas Dodd took over and went 4-of-9 passing for 45 yards.
The first score of the game came form James as he escaped several missed EMU tackles for a 13-yard touchdown run.
Sophomore place-kicker Dylan Mulder made his first field goal of the season from 39 yards to put the Eagles on the board at 7-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, RU senior wide receiver Quron Pratt took the kickoff from EMU senior kicker Kody Fulkerson 99 yards past several Eagle defenders for the touchdown and put Rutgers ahead 14-3 midway through the first quarter.
EMU’s only touchdown came on a trick play in the second quarter.
Junior running back Ryan Brumfield took the snap from center, in a play reminiscent of the wildcat, rolling out to throw a lateral to Benz who then threw it back to Brumfield for a 43-yard touchdown to put EMU within four points of Rutgers at 14-10 midway through the second quarter.
Mulder missed a field goal from 31 yards as time expired in the first half.
After a punt from EMU freshman Austin Barnes, James ran for a 55-yard touchdown to put Rutgers back up by 11 in the early stages of the third quarter.
The score remained 21-10 until around the eight-minute mark in the fourth quarter when James scored on a 52-yard touchdown run to put the game away for Rutgers.
At halftime, the Scarlet Knights honored the paralyzed Eric LeGrand by retiring his No. 52 jersey, the first number to be retired in the 144-year history of the school.
Mid-American Conference play for the Eagles begins as the team returns home for its annual homecoming game next Saturday against the Ball State University Cardinals.
This will be the first meeting against Ball State for EMU offensive coordinator Stan Parrish. He was the Cardinals head coach from 2009 to 2010.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The game can be seen on ESPN3 and heard on WEMU 89.1 FM.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.