Doubt if I was the only one thinking, “Here we go again,” after Eastern Michigan jumped out to 8-0 and 15-7 leads in the first quarterback.
Army’s defense didn’t have any answered on Eastern Michigan’s first two drives. But the defense responded and Terry Baggett and Army’s rushing attack did the rest in a 50-25 victory.
Thought it was fitting that running back Terry Baggett and linebacker Colby Miller lined up next to each other for the playing of Army’s alma mater.
Both Baggett and Miller had performances that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Have to be honest, I didn’t see Baggett’s record-setting day of 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns coming. He had a 7-carry, 49-yard game at Boston College last week. Thought Baggett could be effective against Eastern Michigan’s defense, which has allowed a ton of points. But had no idea he would make a run at Michael Wallace’s 1999 single-game record and break it. Baggett’s longest run entering the season was 28 yards. Three of Baggett’s touchdowns went for 34 yards or more (34, 67 and 96, second-longest in Army history).
Army rushed for a season-high 513 yards and remember the Black Knights have played the last four games without injured senior Raymond Maples, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2011-2012. Baggett and Trenton Turrentine have stepped up their games in Maples’ absence. There’s some talk of Maples returning as early as Saturday at Temple in Philadelphia, his hometown, from a groin injury. When Maples does return, Army has a nice problem on its hands. It will be interesting to set how the ball is distributed and what part of the triple option defense try to take away.
As I stated on KnightCap, Colby Miller provides some energy to the second row of Army’s defense. Miler showed he’s a pretty good tackler when he stopped Eastern Michigan’s Bronson Hill for no gain on 4th-and-1. A scout-team player and member of Army’s jayvee team his first three seasons, Miller should definitely have a role going forward as a hard-hitting middle linebacker.
Junior QB Angel Santiago’s game could get lost in the team’s win. Santiago pushed through a bad ankle and his rushing stats (13 carries, 36 yards, touchdowns) didn’t tell the whole story. He operated Army’s triple-option perfectly and for the third straight game Army had ZERO turnovers. Army has just five lost fumbles this season compared to 20 for the entire 2012 campaign. Santiago is big part of the improvement. He may not be the gamebreaker that former quarterback Trent Steelman was but Santiago manages the game well. Santiago has lead Army to three wins this season, one more than 2012.
Four of Santiago’s seven pass attempts came on first down. He completed three of the four passes for 20 yards. The passes were short high-percentage throws. Army opened the second half with a pass to freshman Xavier Moss. Establishing a passing game, especially on first down, will only open up the running game even more.
One of game’s most important plays was cornerback Josh Jenkins’ strip of wide receiver Jay Jones and Jeremy Trimble’s recovery at Army’s 3. Eastern Michigan appeared on its way to trimming Army’s 29-18 lead in the third quarter when Jenkins forced the fumble. Army would score two plays later on Terry Baggett’s 96-yard run to regain full control of the game.
Army missed too many opportunities at sacking Eastern Michigan QB Tyler Benz. I can count in my head at least five different plays where someone was in position to take Benz down behind the line of scrimmage and failed.