October 20, 2012

Army hits season's low in loss to Eastern Michigan

One would think that venturing out to Ypsilanti, Michigan to take on Eastern Michigan would be just what the doctor order for has been ailing Army. The Eagles were coming into Saturday's contest with an 0-6 record, as the Black Knights were attempting to get back on the winning track.

Well if that's what the doctor order, then the Army Black Knights should not call in for a refill.

From the opening kickoff of the game to the end of the ball game, it was the dosage of Eagles' quarterback Tyler Benz, tight-end Garrett Hoskins and running back Bronson Hill that made it appear that the Army defense had a bad case of narcolepsy.

On the Eagles first series, Hill danced and pranced his way through the Army defense who "refused" to put a helmet on the 5'10", 211 pound running back. The notable was on 2nd & 4, five Black Knights failed to tackle the 6'2", 230 pounder and the final play of the drive saw Benz hit running back Javonti Greene from 39 yards out, as Lyle Beloney was no where close to covering Greene.

But the Army faithful had seen this movie before and like most observers, were confident that the nation's leading rushing offense would come out with their guns blazing and respond to Eastern Michigan's early challenge.

Unfortunately, the Eagles must had taken a page out of Kent State's defense playbook that shutdown Army last week. Because the Trent Steelman lead offense went 3 & out or more specifically, on 1st & 2nd down, Maples lost 2 and 3 yards respectively ... which forced the Black Knights to punt from their own ???

The sleep-walking Black Knights, see punter Chris Bolt take his eyes off the snap just for a moment, which leads to a fumble and an Eagles' recovery on Army's 13 yard line.

Five plays later on 2nd and goal from the one yard line, Benz finds a wide open Hoskins, who would register one of his seven receptions on the day, along with his lone touchdown ... and a 14-0 Eastern Michigan lead.

Although Army came storming back offensively, with an impressive executed option pitch from quarterback Trent Steelman to slotback Malcolm Brown for 56 yards and a touchdown, which narrowed the score to 14-10 ... that would be the theme throughout the Saturday afternoon contest.

The early 14-0 first quarter cushion supplied by Army's ailing defense and their inability to slow or have an answer for the Eagles offense would have Army playing catch-up all day long.

Because right after Brown's touchdown jaunt, the Eagles come right back to score to start the 2nd quarter and move ahead, 21-10.

Yes, you guessed it. On the very next possession, the Black Knights answer on 2nd & 7 from their own 27 and this time it's Steelman. The senior QB, fakes a pitch to Brown that the "D" bites on, hits the seams and races 74 yards and paydirt. With the score now 21-17 and 11:10 remaining, there was more than enough time for the Black Knights to get back on track as a team.

But as the script goes, the Eagles answered the call and marched all the way down to the Army 4-yard line. With 6:20 remaining in the 1st half, and 3rd & goal, Benz dropped back to pass, but frosh Roverback, Alex Meier stepped in front of the attended pass and may the much needed interception. The 6'2", 200 pounder returned the ball back to the Eastern Michigan 34 yard line, but more importantly, shifting the "MO" to Army.

It could not get better than this, as the Black Knights have the ball 3rd & 4 at EM's 34, 3:40 on the clock and Steelman break off right tackle in what appears to be a b-line right to the end-zone.

Every Army fan had the same thought at that very moment. "Steelman will score, we will be up 24-21, our defense will stop EM's offense on the final series of the half and we will get the ball to open the 2nd half."

"Screechhhhhhhh...."

With an apparent TD in sight and for reasons only known to him, Steelman loses both his balance and subsequently the football and in all honesty, any hope for Army winning the ball game.

The 2nd half was pretty much a reflection of the 1st half for both squad, as Army defensive showed little to no physicality, were consistently beat on the perimeter and zero pass pressure. Surely, having defensive leader, captain and linebacker Nate Combs out due to injury had significant impact on their performance. But this group continues to show very little intensity when they step on the field and even more so, they appear uncertain defensively and some of that is now manifesting itself offensively.

Offensively for Eastern Michigan, Benz passed for 369 yards, along with 5 touchdown. While his tight-end, Hoskins pulled down 7 passes for 158 yards and one score. The trifecta was complete as Hill rushed for 189 yards (7.1) and one touchdown.

With the balance of the schedule having Army facing Rutgers, Temple, Air Force, Navy and even Ball State ... if whatever is ailing this program is not diagnose and remedied in a timely manner, things could get "hot" for everyone involved.

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