YPSILANTI, Mich. – Army's option attack piled up plenty of yards Saturday — but not as many as the defense allowed.
Eagles quarterback Tyler Benz, in just his fourth start, threw a career-high five touchdown passes and Eastern Michigan won its first game of the season, beating the Black Knights 48-38.
Army broke a handful of big plays on the ground but never could match the Eagles' varied offense. In a high-scoring game, poor tackling on both sides aided long plays but it most hurt Army. The Black Knights (1-6) never could quite catch up after yielding two early scores.
"At every turn we're finding something to frustrate us," coach Rich Ellerson said. "If it was just the offense, defense or special teams, I could understand, but it's all those things."
Army got a pair of long touchdown runs from quarterback Trent Steelman, including a 75-yard dash late in the third quarter. His career-high 212-yard day on 16 carried made him the first Black Knights player to rush for 200 yards since 2008 and the first quarterback to do so since Tory Crawford in 1986.
Malcolm Brown and Trenton Turrentine added touchdown runs and Anthony Stevens caught a scoring pass from A.J. Schurr in the closing minutes of the game. Army rushed for 412 yards, 27 more than its FBS-leading average. But the Black Knights lost for the first time in five meetings with Eastern Michigan.
Benz had four scoring passes this season before Saturday and matched that total before intermission. He finished with a career-high 369 yards on 19-for-31 passing.
"Coming in we knew we would get to throw the ball a decent amount," said Benz, who found several open receivers against a defense seemingly intent on stopping the Eagles' ground game.
"If we got good opportunities we felt our receivers and tight ends could outrun them."
Hill, a week removed from a 283-yard effort against Toledo, rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries as the Eagles rolled up nearly 600 yards of offense to end an eight-game losing streak. Eastern Michigan (1-6) last won Nov. 12 against Buffalo.
It didn't take long for the Eagles to get going Saturday. They scored on the game's third play when Benz found a wide-open Javonti Greene for a 39-yard strike. Army muffed a punt snap on the ensuing drive and Benz threw his second touchdown to Garrett Hoskins five plays later.
Benz added scoring passes to Hill and Christian Menet in the second quarter to give Eastern Michigan a 28-17 halftime lead. He connected with Ryan Brumfield early in the fourth quarter. Hill put the game out of reach when he scored the Eagles' lone rushing touchdown three minutes into the final period.
Hoskins, one of seven Eastern Michigan players to catch a pass, had seven receptions for a career-high 158 yards.
"It always feels good to get the ball," the tight end said. "Against that defense they run, we were able to get a lot of guys in one-on-one coverage."