The Army Black Knights (1-3).won its first game this season with a 58-36 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-3) on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium. Army ran for 556 yards and posted 654 yards of total offense. Army jumped out to a 22-3 lead as the Army defense allowed only 6 yards on the Eagles first three drives. EMU was able to get its offense into gear and drew within 36-30 after B-Back Matt Giachinta’s fumble was converted on the next play into a touchdown on a 27-yard run by Darius Jackson. Army responded and scored the next three touchdowns to pull away for the victory. The road win broke Army's streak of not winning at an opponent’s home field since 2010. Army has won 6 of 7 meetings against the Eagles.
PASSING OFFENSE: B
Ahmad Bradshaw completed both his passes for 28 yards and a touchdown before he was injured. Army opened the game with a pass attempt but Bradshaw was sacked as Matt Gianchinta failed to pick up a blitz. Ahmad connected with DeAndre Bell (2 recs, 67 yards) for an 19-yard gain on 3rd-and-8 from EMU 44 to keep Army's second touchdown drive alive. Bradshaw finished the drive with a 10-yard strike to Edgar Poe at the goal line for the touchdown.
A.J. Schurr replaced the injured Bradshaw and completed 3-of-7 passes for 70 yards with a interception. Schurr's only pass in the first half was incomplete .On the first drive of the second half he hit John Trainor (2 rec, 21 yards) for 13 -yards. The drive ended with Schurr being picked off in the end zone on third and goal. AJ initially avoided a sack then threw total duck that was intercepted. It was one of those passes we've seen over the years that Schurr throws which seems to slip out of his hand. Schurr next pass attempt on third and long was incomplete as he threw it away under pressure but EMU's Dawson bailed Army out with a roughing the passer penalty to keep the drive alive. After Schurr had a personal foul penalty that made it second-and- 21, he threw his best pass of the night hitting a wide open DeAndre Bell for a 49-yard gain which set up his own touchdown run to make it 36-17. He missed Jordan Asberry twice a few series later. Asberry was wide open deep on the first play action pass attempt on a post pattern but A.J threw it over his wrong shoulder and Asberry couldn't haul in in. It should have been a touchdown. The offensive line allowed the one sack.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A+
Army ran for an amazing 556 rushing yards, averaged 7.8 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns. Army center Matt Hugenberg was dominant as the Black Knights ran the fullback all night long. Aaron Kemper ran for career high 147 yards and a score. Kemper broke a number of tackles and made a nice hard cut on his 56-yard touchdown run to make it 22-3. It was the best he looked since he was USMAPS MVP. Matt Gianchinta had much of his yards on a fake punt but he ran well carrying the ball 13 for a career high 88 yards. His fumble in the third quarter and the ensuing EMU touchdown narrowed the gap to 36-30. He needs to protect the ball better there. Third string B-back Drue Harris showed his speed as he ran eight times for 60 yards and two scores. His 27-yard touchdown run closed the scoring for Army.
Joe Walker. (5 att., 86 yards, 1 TD) opened the first Army drive with a career long 63-yard touchdown run. John Trainor (4 att., 69 yards, TD) showed his speed on the edge. Both slotbacks blocked effectively for each other.
A.J. Schurr (10 att., 67 yards. 2 TDs) ran the offense very well after replacing the injured Bradshaw. Ahmad Bradshaw (11 att., 8 yards) longest run was just 6-yards before he left the game. It was clear the EMU game plan was to take him out of the game. Ahmad had a costly fumble deep in Army's own end when he had a pitch batted down that led to EMU 's opening field goal. A defensive lineman fell on his ankle and he was forced to leave the game the next series. Bradshaw's ankle was in a boot on the sidelines.
Plebe slotbacks Jordan Asberry ran four times for 14 yards. Nick Black had a 13-yard run and a key block at end of Kemper's long touchdown run to allow him to score. Christian Drake ran twice for four yards. Blocking at the point of attack and on the perimeter was outstanding. It was the third best rushing effort in school history.
PASSING DEFENSE: C-
Quarterback Brogan Roback completed 27-of-39 passes for 280 yards and two scores. He was picked off once by free safety Xavier Moss (7 tackles, Int). Moss had his struggles. He was very late to provide help on EMU's first touchdown pass to Kris Strange for 23 yards. He was embarrassingly run over by Darious Jackson on one of his touchdown runs. Moss's interception was huge as it followed Schurr's interception on the opening drive. It allowed Army to extend the lead 36-17 with his 21 yard interception return.
After playing well in the first three series the Army cornerbacks Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, TFL) and Brandon Jackson (6 tackles) allowed a lot of pitch and catch and bubble screens as EMU scored on four of its next five possessions. Tevin Long (3 tackles,PD) stopped Darius Jackson short of the first down forcing a punt on Eastern Michigan's opening drive. He later blew a pass coverage leaving Daugherty wide open on a 45 yard td pass. Army front line didn't generate much pressure. Army defensive end John Voit had 2 tackles and his quarterback hurry was the only time the front line generated pressure. Andrew King did supply pressure up middle to force a punt on third down. Army's defensive backs struggled in the second and third quarters but their play in the first quarter allowed Army to open a 22-3 lead.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D
Eastern Michigan's ran for 193 yards, a 7.7 average per carry and three touchdowns. Jeremy Timpf led the Black Knights with eight tackles and he had a key forced fumble at the goal line, after a Scott Washle hit, to save a touchdown. Rhyan England (7 tackles, TFL, FR) recovered the fumble in the end zone to end the drive. Bayle Wolf, 5 tackles, had a nice open field tackle that looked like a wrestling takedown.
Mike linebacker Andrew King (7 tackles, TFL) had some key plays to force punts. Andrew King made a nice play running down EMU's quarterback Roback to force a punt at the start of the fourth quarter.
Up front nose tackle T.J. Altimalala (1 tackle) and defensive tackle Jordan Smith (2 tackles) struggled to get off blocks. There were too many missed tackles. Free safety Xavier Moss was run over on one play but he did show his speed in running down EMU's speedy Darious Jackson.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Kicker Dan Grochowski hit all six of his extra points and had four touch backs on eight kickoffs. Cale Brewer had a touch back on his only attempt. Punter Alex Tardieu had the night off.
Marcus Hyatt returned one kickoff for 19 yards and once again seemed to run into his own blockers tackling himself. Nicholas Black had two returns for 28 yards. One by the goal line he should have let go through the end zone for a touch back rather than running it out. Punt returner Edgar Poe (2 rets, 9 yards) had a nice 10 yard return but should have fair caught the other one where he was dropped for a loss.
Matt Gianchinta 34-yard run on a fake punt allowed Army to continue a drive and extend the lead to 29-10. Kelvin White pass to long snapper Connor Farley on 2-point conversion was first time I ever saw a long snapper catch a two point conversion. Army's kick coverage teams were solid. Calen Holt made the tackle on the opening kickoff that was the longest return of 29 yards.
Jeff Monken's team played hard and was well prepared for the game as they jumped out to an early lead and extended it. I liked his aggressive play calls on fourth down and special teams. He and his staff completely out-coached EMU.
Offensive coordinator Brent Davis was able to get his reshuffled line to play at a very high level. Army’s 654 yards of total offense marked the second most yards of total offense in a single game in school history. The 556 rushing yards is the most against a current FBS opponent in Academy history.
Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman's defense was well prepared at the start of the game. Army limited Eastern Michigan to one first down, one passing yard and 16 rushing yards in the first quarter. After EMU started to play hurry up offense they moved the ball. There were a number of defensive breakdowns but those are on the players not the staff.
OVERALL GRADE: A
The offense needed this game and EMU with the worse rushing defense in the FBS was the perfect tonic to cure all ills. The 58 points was the most for Army against a current FBS opponent since scoring 58 against Boston College in 1968. The rushing defense should have dragged down this score but the rushing attack carried the day and gets the team an "A " grade. More than anything this team needed a win and it got it. It broke the 21-game streak of not winning away from Michie Stadium