Army rallies past Eastern Michigan 17-13
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP)—With fullback Collin Mooney behind him, Army quarterback Chip Bowden doesn’t worry much about passing.
Running hard in Army’s new option attack, Mooney had his second straight career high on Saturday with 229 yards rushing. He helped set up Bowden’s decisive 9-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter as Army rallied past Eastern Michigan 17-13 for its second straight victory.
“Offensively, we’re really starting to come into the offense, really starting to click,” said Bowden, who was 0-for-3 passing against the Eagles and is 4-for-11 for 43 yards in three starts. “Everybody’s taking care of their jobs.”
Especially Mooney, who had 187 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns in a 44-13 win a week ago at Tulane.
Mooney’s 54-yard run off right tackle early in the third quarter set up Matthew Campbell’s 18-yard field goal that moved Army within 13-10.
“We just picked up our intensity after halftime,” Mooney said. “We knew what we had to do. We just fired it up a little bit in the locker room and got it going. Our will to win has increased tremendously.”
It was the first home win for Army (2-4) this season and snapped a five-game losing streak at Michie Stadium. That it came in front of alumni eager for a win on Homecoming made it that much sweeter.
“You could hear the fans behind us from the beginning to the end,” senior strong safety Lowell Garthwaite said. “I felt like we were there today. We weren’t going to lose this game.”
Eastern Michigan (2-5), coming off a last-minute victory a week ago at Bowling Green, couldn’t take advantage of Mooney’s fumble midway through the fourth quarter, Army’s 13th lost fumble this season. The Eagles had two more possessions but failed to gain a first down on either.
“We were able in the fourth quarter to provide our offense an opportunity,” Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Genyk said. “Offensively, we needed to execute at a higher level. We had four three-and-outs in the fourth quarter. We caused two turnovers and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Eagles tailback Dwayne Priest had 110 yards rushing in the first half but gained only 8 yards on three carries after the break.
Jim Young installed the ground-oriented wishbone attack at Army in the mid-1980s and the program took off, notching four national rushing titles, a 10-win season, and berths in the first four bowl games in academy history.
Army coach Stan Brock went back to the option this year after the Black Knights endured a decade of frustration with a passing game.
The attack finally began to gel against the Green Wave as Army snapped a 10-game losing streak. It continued against Eastern Michigan as Mooney became the first Army back to go over 200 yards since Carlton Jones had 213 against Air Force in 2004. It was the fourth-highest rushing total in academy history as Army finished with 341 yards rushing, the most since the Black Knights had 388 against New Mexico State in 1999.
“It wasn’t perfect. It was never perfect throughout the day,” Brock said. “It was a little bit trying at times, but the intensity, the way they continued to fight through it, shows great growth. They expect to win football games. It’s kind of all coming together.”
A week ago, Army’s special teams blocked a punt and a field goal attempt, and they struck again with the Eagles ahead 13-10 in the third quarter and ready to take control.
After a pass interference penalty against Lawrence Brown on a third-and-19 play gave Eastern Michigan a first down near midfield, Andy Schmitt hit backup quarterback Ben Thayer for 23 yards and tight end Josh LeDuc for 18 more on consecutive plays, putting the ball at the Army 6.
But Terrence Blevins, who scored the Eagles’ lone touchdown on a 5-yard run up the middle in the second quarter, gained only a yard on first down. Schmitt threw two incompletions before defensive end Victor Ugenyi blocked an 18-yard field goal try by Joe Carithers. It was Ugenyi’s second block in two weeks.
“We had to get something going,” Ugenyi said. “I put my hands up and good things happened.”
Army then drove 80 yards for the winning score. Mooney gained 48 yards on eight carries to set up Bowden’s keeper around the right side after Eastern Michigan’s defenders keyed on Mooney’s fake up the middle.
Aided by two penalties against the Eagles, Army drove 61 yards in two plays after the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead. Speedy Wesley McMahand started the drive by taking a pitch left for 28 yards and finished it with a 13-yard scoring run off a pitch right before Mooney took over.