TEAM Army and Eastern Michigan squared off for the third time Saturday night at Rynearson Stadium. It marked the Black Knights’ first ever visit to Ypsilanti. Army has prevailed in all three meetings between the clubs.
The Black Knights snapped a 12-game losing streak in season openers with Saturday’s defeat of Eastern Michigan. Prior to Saturday, Army last registered a season-opening victory in 1996 against Ohio (37-20). . Army head coach Rich Ellerson became the 36th individual to walk the sidelines as head coach for the Black Knights on Saturday.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson became the first individual to win his coaching debut at West Point since Bob Sutton in 1991. Four Black Knight mentors had subsequently dropped their West Point coaching debuts (Todd Berry, John Mumford, Bobby Ross and Stan Brock). Ellerson is also the only Army head coach to win on the road in his first game on the Black Knight sidelines.
Army’s win snapped an eight-game losing streak in season openers played away from West Point.
Nine Black Knights drew their first collegiate starts on Saturday, six on offense and three on defense. In addition, junior Jonathan Bulls saw his first collegiate action in handling Army’s punting duties.
When Army scored a touchdown on its first drive (6:12 remaining) it snapped a touchdown drought of 73:03 for the Black Knights that spanned the last three games of last year and the first eight-plus minutes on Saturday.
Army led Eastern Michigan 13-0 at the half on Saturday. The Black Knights shut out just one opponent (Louisiana Tech) in the first half last season. OFFENSE Army Trent Steelman became the first freshman to start a season opener at quarterback for Army in the modern era (since 1944). Steelman became the 17th freshman to start a game at quarterback in Army history overall, and the first since Carson Williams in 2006.
Trent Steelman ranked as one of six Army players to register their first collegiate starts on offense Saturday against Eastern Michigan. Four of Army’s five starters along the offensive line made their collegiate starting debuts versus the Eagles. In addition to Steelman, first time starters on offense included sophomore Mike McDermott (LT), junior Anees Merzi (LG), junior Zach Peterson (C), junior Seth Reed (RG) and sophomore CeDarius Williams (FB).
Army scored a touchdown on its first offensive drive of the season when junior SB Pat Mealy went six yards around right end for a touchdown. The run capped a 12-play, 57-yard scoring drive that took 6:44 off the clock. For Mealy, it marked his third career rushing touchdown.
Junior SB Pat Mealy broke free for a 75-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up Army’s final touchdown. It was his longest career run and pushed him over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. Mealy finished with 109 yards on only five carries.
Junior SB Jameson Carter scored on a 12-yard run in the second quarter for his first career touchdown. Carter played wide receiver last season. Junior SB Patrick Mealy registered a key cut-block on the play to allow Carter to scoot into the end zone.
Junior QB Chip Bowden saw his first offensive action of the game late in the third quarter. Bowden started nine games last season, but was beaten out for the starting job by Trent Steelman during preseason camp. Bowden was in the game for only one official play before being replaced by Steelman. Bowden is also on the Army punt team.
Junior FB Kingsley Ehie registered his first career touchdown when he scampered in from 10 yards out with 10:22 remaining in the game. Ehie accounted for 42 of Army’s 79 yards on the drive. Until that drive, Army had managed just 18 rushing yards in the second half.
Ehie had a career day, setting personal bests with 12 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Army finished with 300 yards rushing, 207 of which came in the second half.
DEFENSE Three Army players recorded their first collegiate starts on defense against Eastern Michigan. Sophomore Andrew Rodriguez (whip), sophomore Steven Erzinger (rover) and junior Donnie Dixon (strong safety) made their collegiate debuts for Army on the defensive side of the ball.
Junior FS Donovan Travis registered his third career interception in the first quarter. His 56-yard return marked a career long.
Army’s defense registered five quarterback sacks in the first half and six for the game. Junior DE Josh McNary was credited with one solo sack and two half sacks of those five. Victor Ugenyi was credited with two quarterback sacks in first half. Army’s season high for quarterback sacks in 2008 was five (accomplished versus Louisiana Tech and Buffalo).
Senior DT Victor Ugenyi moved into fourth place on Army’s career quarterback sacks list with 2.5 takedowns of EMU QB Andy Schmitt. Ugenyi has garnered 8.5 sacks in his West Point career.
SPECIAL TEAMS After connecting on all 15 of his extra point attempts last season, junior K Matt Campbell missed his first try of the season on Saturday night. Campbell missed two of his three PAT opportunites.