Army’s triple-option offense took over in the second half Saturday afternoon against Eastern Michigan University in a 50-25 victory at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
EMU (1-5, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) lost its fifth consecutive game, letting up at least 42 points for the third consecutive week. Army’s 50 points was a season-high and the most scored since Oct. 9, 1993 when they defeated the Temple University Owls 56-21. It was also the Black Knights’ largest win margin this season.
Behind Army’s success was junior running back Terry Baggett who rushed for a school-record 304 yards on 18 carries, which is also the current high in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision this season. He also put up four touchdowns, including a 67 and career-best 96-yarder.
As a team Army (3-4) rushed for 513 yards and seven touchdowns, a season-best.
“Anytime you play these guys if you’re not really well prepared, you’re going to struggle,” EMU head coach Ron English said. “It didn’t look like that from a defensive point of view.”
Other top rushers for the Black Knights were juniors Trenton Turrentine (92 yards) and Larry Dixon (69 yards), who each scored a TD.
The Eagles got most of its offensive production both rushing and receiving from junior running back Bronson Hill. He ran for a season-high 143 yards and his first touchdown since he scored two in week one.
Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz went 17-for-26 with 223 passing yards, two TD’s and an interception as he connected with Hill four times.
Hill caught for 91 yards and a 17-yard touchdown reception from Benz on the first drive of the game.
“The stats are good, but the measure of any back is when it’s fourth-and-one, you need to get a yard,” English said.
Hill fell short on a fourth down conversion with 6:25 left in the third quarter at Army’s 20-yard line.
The Eagles botched the PAT after the opening-drive touchdown 5:36 into the game, but turned it into an opportunity for a two-point conversion and succeeded.
“[It was a] great play in terms of knowing who was on the field and reaching that ball over the pylon,” English said.
After EMU’s 8-0 lead, Baggett and Hill went back and forth running in touchdowns.
Army junior quarterback Angel Santiago converted a third-and-five situation with a six-yard run to land the ball inside EMU’s ten. Baggett followed with a four-yard rushing touchdown with 4:55 left in the quarter.
Hill answered with a 43-yard rush that led to a 12-yard TD run exactly a minute after. But 15 seconds later, Baggett rushed one for 67 yards for another score and Army converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 15.
Turrentine would drive in a touchdown from one yard out with 9:46 left in the half and EMU sophomore kicker Dylan Mulder posted a 31-yard field goal to give Army a 22-18 lead at halftime.
Baggett started out the second half by topping off a 71-yard opening drive for Army with a 34-yard TD to extend its lead to 11 points.
The Eagles got inside Army’s red zone on the first play of the pursuing drive, but on 3rd and 8 at Army’s 10-yard line, sophomore wide receiver Jay Jones fumbled.
“I thought that was the turning point,” English said. “That was a 14-point swing right there. That’s huge.”
It was huge.
Baggett ran in his fourth and final touchdown of the afternoon in booming fashion with a 96-yarder to give the Black Knights a 36-18 lead.
The Eagles failed to convert on fourth down on the following drive and that led to Dixon rushing one in from 30 yards out after eluding multiple tackles.
Benz found sophomore wide receiver Dustin Creel for a 28-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter, but still trailed by 18.
Sophomore running back Matt Giachinta extended the lead to 25 with a four-yard rushing TD.
EMU will return to Rynearson Stadium to face Ohio University (4-2, 1-1 MAC) for its first home game in three weeks. After that, the Eagles head down to Northern Illinois University.
Army has to travel to Philadelphia, PA. to take on Temple University, but have the following week off with a bye.
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