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Eastern Michigan blew chance to beat Rutgers
By: Staff  Writer - AP
Published: 9/14/2013  at  4:49:55 PM
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - The more Ron English looked at the statistics, the more the Eastern Michigan coach realized how close his team was to upsetting Rutgers.

Eastern Michigan outgained Rutgers 373 yards to 274. The Eagles ran 80 plays, almost twice as many as the 42 snaps by Rutgers. But two missed field goal attempts, two long touchdown runs by Rutgers' Paul James and a 99-yard kickoff return by Quron Prat were the difference in a 28-10 loss on Saturday.

``I've been in this game a long time and we had a chance to win the game,'' English said. ``When you don't score it affects your linemen and it affects everybody because you work so hard to get down there and you don't cash in. Nobody likes to work and not get paid.''

Eastern Michigan (1-2) did cash in during the second quarter when running back Ryan Brumfield and quarterback Tyler Benz hooked up on a flea-flicker play. Brumfield took the shotgun snap from center and tossed it to Benz before taking off and receiving the return pass, which he turned into a 43-yard TD that cut the deficit to 14-10 for the Eagles, who extended their steak of not being shut out to 58 games, dating to 2008.

Mulder had opened the scoring for Eastern Michigan with a 39-yard field goal in the first period. He did miss a 31-yard attempt in the second quarter and a 42-yarder in the fourth.

Benz completed 24 of 40 passes for 335 yards and was intercepted once. But he couldn't match the scoring production of James, who ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns on a day the Scarlet Knights (2-1) honored the paralyzed Eric LeGrand by retiring his No. 52 jersey.

It marked the first time in the 144-year history of the birthplace of college football that the university retired the number of a football player and this one was clearly loved by all in attendance.

James, who has rushed for 493 yards on 61 carries this season, made sure everyone went home happy, scoring on runs of 13, 55 and 52 yards

``What's most disappointing, not their rush total, but the two runs,'' English said. ``Those two runs add up to 107 yards. If you take out those two runs, we held them to under 100 yards on 19 plays. I'll take that all day long. But we can't take out those plays. I pride myself being able to teach run defense. We have to do a better job against the run.''

Rutgers offense struggled after starting quarterback Gary Nova was lost to an apparent concussion on the opening series, an 87-yard touchdown drive.

The game was a lot closer than the final score, but Rutgers made the plays it needed to win its second straight.

``We just didn't win the game,'' Benz said. ``We need to play a little better.''

Nova hit all four of his passes for 40 yards on the Scarlet Knights' game-opening 87-yard drive, which James capped with a 13-yard run around the left side.

Mulder cut the lead to four points on the Eagles' opening series, but Pratt took the ensuing kickoff at the 1-yard line and was never touched in going to the house for a 14-3 lead.

Mulder missed a 31-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half.

The intermission belonged to LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a game against Army in 2010. His No. 52 was retired and he told the crowd he still believed he will walk again.

James put the game out of reach in the second half when he scored on a 55-yard run down the left sideline on the Scarlet Knights' opening series. The sophomore closed out the scoring with his 52-yard run in the fourth quarter, this time going down the right sideline.

Chas Dodd replaced Nova and finished 4 of 9 for 45 yards.

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