Army running back Terry Baggett (31) runs past Eastern Michigan defender Donald Coleman during the first half. Baggett ran for four touchdowns and a school record 304 yards, the highest mark in Division I this season. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)
West Point, N.Y. — A year after winning a home shootout over Army, Eastern Michigan picked up right where it left off.
For a little while, anyway.
The Eagles scored on an impressive opening drive at Michie Stadium Saturday, but soon found themselves quieted by a record performance out of Army’s backfield.
Terry Baggett ran for four touchdowns — including a 96-yard score — and a school record 304 yards, the highest in Division I this season, as Army came back to beat Eastern 50-25 for the fifth time in six games.
Tyler Benz was 17 for 26 for 223 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Eagles (1-5), while Bronson Hill rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Army’s rare triple-option offense figured to present a challenge for Eastern, which had given up a combined 995 total yards over the past two weeks; Army finished with 551 all-purpose yards.
“Any time you play these guys, if you’re not really well-prepared, you’re going to struggle,” Eastern coach Ron English said. “I came away questioning the way we prepared.”
Baggett’s performance broke Michael Wallace’s mark of 269 yards set in 1999 and marked the first 300-yard rushing performance for Army, which debuted in 1890.
“People keep telling me, ‘Man, you just broke the Army record for a single game,’ ” the junior Baggett, all smiles, said. “It hasn’t hit me yet.”
Larry Dixon added 69 yards and a score for the Black Knights (3-4), who went up 22-15 on Trenton Turrentine’s one-yard touchdown with 9:46 left in the second and never looked back. Turrentine finished with 92 yards.
“Guys rose up and made plays,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “The whole offense feels great about those numbers, feels great about that W.”
The Eagles got on the board first on a 17-yard touchdown strike from Benz to Hill on third-and-7. Benz dropped back and evaded Hayden Pierce’s sack attempt in time to connect with an open Hill for the score.
Earlier on the drive, Hill turned a screen pass into a 27-yard scurry as the Eagles drove into Army territory — one of five straight completions by Benz on the opening drive.
Things kept going Eastern’s way even after that touchdown. Picking up a botched snap on the extra point, placeholder Mark Iannotti scrambled back and heaved a prayer to Cole Gardner.
The 6-foot-5 tight end made the grab and barreled just across the goal line before going out of bounds to give the Eagles an early 8-0 lead.
Army answered on the ensuing drive, buoyed by a 35-yard run by Turrentine — who deftly split two defenders — off a pitch left to get the Black Knights into the red zone. Two minutes later, Baggett ran up the middle and Army cut it to 8-7.
Eastern needed just three plays and 53 seconds to score again, however. On the second play of the drive, Hill broke through traffic and ran right for a 43-yard gain, all the way to Army’s 12. Hill finished the drive with a touchdown on the next snap, and the Eagles went up 15-7.
Then Baggett got involved.
On the first play of Army’s next drive, Baggett got to the edge on a pitch and ran up the right sideline for a 67-yard score. Angel Santiago’s keeper on the conversion attempt tied it at 15.
“When you have the offense executing like this, it definitely makes the job as a quarterback easier,” said Santiago, who had 38 passing yards and 36 on the ground.
Eastern Michigan cut it to 22-18 when Dylan Mulder drilled a 31-yard field goal with five seconds left in the first half, but never got any closer in losing its fifth straight.
Baggett broke through the line unscathed for his third touchdown, a breezy 34-yard run to make it 29-18 early in the second half.
Eastern was poised up to claw back after Hill turned a screen pass into a 53-yard gain, setting he Eagles up on the Army 12. But Jay Jones fumbled on the 4 after a completion.
“That was a 14-point swing right there, which was huge,” English said. “We just did not play better in the second half.”
Next: the coup de grace.
With Army deep in its own end, Baggett took the handoff on second down, broke a tackle and ran 96 yards — one shy of the longest run in Army history — and the Black Knights went up 36-18 with 9:05 remaining in the third.
Larry Dixon wanted in on the fun, too. He broke five tackles on a 30-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left in the quarter as Army went ahead 43-18.
Baggett’s record performance came on 18 carries. He averaged 16.9 yards per run.
“Baggett doesn’t have that kind of a game if the other backs aren’t blocking,” Ellerson said.
Central Michigan 26 (at) Ohio 23: Cooper Rush’s third touchdown pass, a 5-yarder to Courtney Williams with 22 seconds remaining, won it for Central (3-4, 2-1 Mid-American).
Ryan Boykin had given Ohio a 23-19 lead on a 1-yard run with 4:42 left. CMU failed to get a first down and punted. However, the punt was fumbled and recovered by Joe Bacci, setting up the Chippewas at the Ohio 39 for the winning drive.
Ohio (4-2, 1-1), which saw its four-game winning streak end, were hurt by four turnovers. Tyler Tettleton was 24-of-33 passing for 319 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Buffalo 33, (at) Western Michigan 0: Joe Licata passed for three touchdowns and Buffalo (4-2, 2-0) won its fourth straight — and first on the road. Western (0-7, 0-3) was shut out for the first time since 2004.
Buffalo turned three of four turnovers by Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell, making his first career start, into scores. A Terrell interception and two fumbles resulted in a pair of field goals and a Licata touchdown pass in the breakaway second half. The Broncos had played tough in the first, holding Buffalo to a season-low 6 points.
Marqus Baker intercepted Terrell after halftime, leading to Patrick Clark’s career-long 51-yard field goal. Khalil Mack later recovered two Terrell fumbles. One led to a two-yard scoring pass from Licata to Mason Schreck, the second to another Clark field goal. The Bulls have forced 16 turnovers.