Eastern Michigan has lost two football games this season despite holding double-digit leads in both. The Eagles attempted their own comeback Saturday, getting to within a 36-30 deficit at the end of the third quarter, but fell well short, losing to Army West Point 58-36.
Army broke a school-record for rushing yards in a game at 556 yards, breaking the previous high of 513 yards set in a 2013 matchup versus Eastern Michigan.
“I have to start with congratulating Army on their victory,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said. “I think it’s hard to go on the road and win, and I know that this was their first one. We’ll take a lot from them losing three games and sticking with it with toughness and discipline, and they beat us.”
Army scored on its third play from scrimmage with a 63-yard touchdown run by Joe Walker followed by a 2-point conversion by a pass from kicker Daniel Gronchowski to long snapper Connor Farley to give the Black Knights an early 8-0 lead.
The second drive for Army ended in a turnover after EMU linebacker Anthony Brown tipped a backwards option pitch and Anthony Zappone recovered at the Army 21-yard line.
Eastern Michigan put points on the board after going three-and-out after the turnover on a 43-yard field goal by Dylan Mulder, after a false start penalty negated his miss from 38 yards out the previous play, cutting the deficit to 8-3.
Army then drove 77 yards on 13 plays capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass on third down and goal from quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw to receiver Edgar Poe to extend the lead to 15-3.
The Eagles appeared to gain some momentum to start the second quarter, as Darius Jackson took the handoff 53 yards to the Army two yard line, only to fumble on the very next play and be recovered by the Black Knights in the endzone for a touchback. Army would drive 80 yards capped by a 56-yard touchdown run from Aaron Kemper to extend the Black Knights lead to 22-3.
The Eagles were able to score twice on a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brogan Roback to receiver Kris Strange and a 15-yard touchdown run by Jackson on the final two drives before the half to go into the intermission down 29-17.
Receiver Eddie Daugherty found an opening deep in the secondary in the second half, and Roback hit him for a 45-yard score on the second drive of the second half. Daugherty finished the game with 120 yards receiving on six catches with the touchdown.
“Eddie Daugherty is a very talented football player,” Creighton said. “He is great for our football program. We needed some young guys to step up and bolster our wide receiving corps, and he is front runner of the young guys right now.”
After a fumble by Army recovered by EMU at the Knight’s 27-yard line, Jackson took the carry 27 yards to the end zone to tighten the score at 36-30 lead for Army.
The offense for the Black Knights took over the game after that, gaining 199 yards with 22 straight points, while also controlling the ball for 12 minutes in the fourth quarter to pull away to victory.
“This was a hard one,” Creighton said. “I don’t know one that isn’t. But it’s hard because I really believe we are going to get it done here at Eastern Michigan. I really do. I think it’s going to be hard, these moments right here, these situations are very hard going into the locker room after. I have a feel that there will be games where we can come back after being down, but we aren’t there yet.”
EMU falls to 1-3 on the season with the defeat while Army earns its first victory of 2015 to a 1-3 record.
The Eagles travel down to Baton Rouge next weekend for a matchup with SEC powerhouse LSU. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
-Army controlled the football for 41:11. This is the second straight week an EMU opponent had a time of possession of two-thirds of the game.
-EMU’s defense continues to struggle getting off the field. Army converted 10-of-13 third down attempts and converted both attempts on fourth down. The Black Knights did not punt once in the game.