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Army Scores Comeback Win At Eastern Michigan

Army 31, EMU 27 (Game Stats)

Army Postgame Notes

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Sophomore FB Jared Hassin’s seven-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds left propelled Army to a come-from-behind 31-27 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night at Rynearson Stadium. Hassin made his collegiate debut with 68 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries.

Army (1-0) has now won back-to-back season openers for the first time since the 1995 and 1996 seasons. The loss was the Eagles’ (0-1) 13th straight.

The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, but the Black Knights scored the first 10 points of the half on an 11-yard touchdown run by senior SB Patrick Mealy and a 42-yard field goal by junior Alex Carlton. Eastern Michigan came back to take a 27-24 lead after a one-yard run by quarterback Alex Gillett and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Gillett to Ben Thayer with 2:59 left on the clock.

Army’s offense roared back on the game-winning drive, marching 72 yards in only eight plays. The series started with a 16-yard completion from sophomore QB Trent Steelman to sophomore WR George Jordan before the Black Knights rushed the ball seven straight times. Steelman ran two times for 21 yards on the drive, including a game-saving fumble recovery of his own option pitch that he turned into a seven-yard gain.

Eastern Michigan had one final chance and put the 11,318 fans on the edge of their seats. The Eagles moved the ball to the Army 32-yard line with three seconds left. Gillett was flushed from the pocket and his desperation heave went out of the back of the end zone to end the contest and send the Black Knights back to West Point with a win.

Mealy led a balanced Army rushing attack with 81 yards and a score on 14 attempts. Sophomore SB Malcolm Brown rushed 10 times for 68 yards, followed by Hassin. Sophomore SB Brian Cobbs rushed three times for 60 yards, including a 39-yard run which was Army’s longest play from scrimmage, in his debut in the backfield after playing defense a season ago. Steelman rushed 15 times for 35 yards.

Hassin is the first Army player to run for three scores since Collin Mooney had four scores at Tulane on Oct. 4, 2008.

Steelman completed five of his 11 throws for 65 yards. Jordan caught the first three passes of his career for 34 yards, while Mealy and junior WR Austin Barr each had one reception.

Priest and Gillett both cracked the 100-yard rushing mark for the Eagles with 142 and 126 respectively. The duo accounted for all three of EMU’s rushing touchdowns with Priest finding paydirt twice.

Gillett was 4 for 9 for 31 yards and an interception through the air. Thayer had a team-leading three catches for 23 yards.

 Army held a 309-285 rushing advantage en route to a 374-316 edge in total offense. It was the highest rushing output for the Black Knights since running for 461 yards at Rice.

Senior LB Stephen Anderson led the Black Knights’ defense with 10 stops, including eight in the first half. He also forced one fumble and made one stop behind the line of scrimmage. Senior DB Donnie Dixon had a game-high 2.5 tackles for loss while junior LB Chad Littlejohn had a career-high seven tackles, including half a sack and. 1.5 tackles for loss.

Senior DB Donovan Travis intercepted a pass and sophomore DB Josh Jackson recovered a fumble for the defense. Junior LB Bill Prosko forced and recovered a fumble for the special teams.
Tim Fort paced the Eagles with 15 tackles, just ahead of Neal Howey’s 14 stops. The Eagles forced one Army turnover.

Army is now 5-0 under head coach Rich Ellerson when winning the turnover battle.

The Eagles wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, taking the opening kickoff and marching 66 yards on 11 rushing plays for a touchdown. Priest did the honors with a five-yard scoring run. The PAT gave Eastern Michigan a 7-0 lead with 9:03 left in the opening quarter. The Eagles’ leading rusher last season ran six times for 37 yards on the drive. EMU tried one pass during the possession on a 3rd-and-11, but a pass interference penalty kept the drive alive.

Army picked up two first downs, but was forced to punt on its initial possession of the season. Senior P Jonathan Bulls’ first punt of 2010 travelled 38 yards and was downed at the Eastern Michigan 5-yard line.

The Black Knights’ defense held up this time, forcing its first turnover of the season. Jarett Mackey forced Priest to fumble and Josh Jackson recovered to set the Army offense up at the Eagles’ 15-yard line. On 1st-and-goal, Hassin plowed his way up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown run, his first career score. Alex Carlton tacked on the extra point to tie the score at 7-7 with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

Eastern Michigan moved into Army territory again, but the Black Knights forced an incomplete pass on fourth down and took over at its own 31-yard line. Army was able to drive the ball inside the EMU 25-yard line, but the possession stalled. Carlton’s 41-yard field goal try was short and right, turning the ball over the Eagles.

Gillett broke off a 29-yard run to move the ball into Army territory, but the defense picked up its second takeaway of the night when Travis intercepted a deep pass and returned it 30 yards to the Army 45-yard line. The Black Knights moved to the Eagles’ 34-yard line, but a sack pushed them back to the 42-yard line. After an incomplete pass to make it 3rd-and-18, Steelman hit Mealy for a 19-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Army pushed its way to the EMU 3-yard line before Hassin went in untouched for his second score. Carlton’s PAT gave the Black Knights their first lead at 14-7 with 40 seconds left in the half.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Army after the touchdown forced Matt Campbell to kick off from the 15-yard line into the wind. Eastern Michigan was able to return the ball into Army territory at the 39-yard line with 35 seconds left. The Eagles needed just four plays, all runs, and 20 seconds to tie the game. Priest scored his second touchdown of the night, a five-yard run, and the PAT made it 14-14 with 15 seconds left.

Army attempted one pass before taking a knee to run out the first-half clock.

The Eagles held a 167-146 total offense advantage, including a 159-108 rushing edge. EMU’s Priest (84) and Gillet (67) combined for 151 rushing markers. Mealy led the Black Knights with 43 yards on six carries. Steelman completed three of his eight pass attempts for 41 yards, while Gillett was 1 for 3 for 8 yards through the air.

Anderson led the Army defense with eight first-half tackles, including one stop behind the line. Army made four tackles for loss, including one sack in the first 30 minutes.

The Black Knights rolled through the Eastern Michigan defense on the opening possession of the second half. Army marched 75 yards on nine plays, capped by an 11-yard touchdown run by Mealy to regain the lead. Carlton’s extra point gave the Black Knights a 21-14 lead with 10:33 left in the third quarter. Mealy rushed three times for 16 yards on the drive.

The Army special teams got into the turnover business on the ensuing kickoff when Bill Prosko forced and recovered a fumble to give the Black Knights the ball at the EMU 32-yard line. Army could not pick up a first down, but Carlton drilled a 42-yard field goal to push the Army advantage to 24-14 with 8:28 left on the third-quarter clock.

The Eagles’ answered right back with another run-oriented, time-consuming drive. Eastern Michigan marched 74 yards in 11 plays, 10 of them rushes, and took five minutes, 55 seconds off the clock for its third score of the night. Gillett did the honors from one yard out. The Eagles missed the PAT to keep Army’s lead at 24-20 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

Army took the ensuing possession and drove into the red zone thanks in part to a 39-yard run by sophomore SB Brian Cobbs, but on 3rd-and-4 from the EMU 12-yard line Steelman’s option pitch went awry and the Eagles recovered on their own 26-yard line with 12:22 left in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles’ drove out to near midfield, but the Black Knights’ offense stiffened and forced EMU’s first punt of the night. Army took over at its own 13-yard line with 9:30 left. Army appeared to flip field position on a 60-yard punt by Bulls, but a penalty negated the kick and forced another punt. The second kick gave the Eagles’ the ball at the Army 33-yard line.

Army held on the first three plays, but on 4th-and-7, the Eagles converted on a wide receiver screen. The ball popped loose, but the EMU was able to recover on the Army 20-yard line. The Eagles drove to the 10-yard line where Gillett found a wide-open Thayer for the score, setting up the dramatic final sequence.

Army will make its home debut when it hosts head coach Rich Ellerson’s alma mater, Hawai’i, on Saturday, Sept. 11. The game has been designated “Salute to Heroes Day” and local fire, police and EMT personnel will be honored throughout the day. Kickoff at Michie Stadium is set for noon and CBS College Sports Network will carry the game.

Full season, mini-plan and single-game tickets for all Army home contests are currently on sale at the Army Ticket Office, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or clicking here. Full season ticket packages in a special section dubbed "Coach E's Army," begin at just $99 for lower-deck seating locations in Michie Stadium. Fans who purchase tickets in that section will receive a special "Coach E's Army" T-shirt. A limited number of tickets remain available to Army's game against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. In order to purchase Army-Notre Dame tickets, fans must hold membership in the Army "A" Club and purchase 2010 Army football season tickets.

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