Eastern Michigan University’s running attack led to its second win, 21-17, at Buffalo on Saturday.
The Eagles were led by senior tailback Dwayne Priest. He rushed 32 times, accounting for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Priest was one of the players suspended by coach Ron English for violating team rules just before the game against Toledo.
Sophomore Alex Gillett rushed 16 times for 56 yards and completed 6-of-9 of his passes for 56 yards and two interceptions.
“It’s about time,” said English, whose team is 2-9 and faces Northern Illinois (9-2) at noon Friday at Rynearson Stadium. “Priest has had a rough senior year; he’s had some injuries in the beginning of the season. He might be one of the better running backs in the MAC… I thought our effort and our emotion was consistent throughout the night. I think we didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, and so I’m proud of our guys.”
Northern Illinois is 7-0, has won eight straight and has clinched the Mid-American Conference West Division title. The Eagles are 2-5 in the MAC. Buffalo began its final drive at its own 22 with 1:14 left in the game. With 45 seconds left, EMU defensive back Arrington Hicks moved up to make a hit on Buffalo receiver Ed Young. Hicks appeared to jam his neck upon the heavy impact with Young and fell motionless. After a few seconds he was moving his legs and was eventually carted off on a stretcher, and taken to a local hospital. On the way off the field Hicks let everyone know he was OK with a fist pump to the crowd on the way out.
After the injury delay, 49 seconds remained on the clock, and the Eagles, who just saw their teammate carted off in an ambulance, still needed to make a stop.
Buffalo got the ball to the Eagles’ 39 setting up a hail-Mary situation for Jerry Davis and the Bulls with five seconds remaining.
Davis completed 20-of-32 passes, with two touchdowns.
EMU answered back scoring a touchdown on the next drive doing it through the ground and timely passing from Gillett to senior tight end Ben Thayer. Thayer caught three passes for 73 yards on the day. Priest ran it from a yard, putting the Eagles up 14-7.
Buffalo threatened scoring before halftime, hurting itself by an offsides penalty pushing it to a 30-yard field goal to end the first half, 14-10.
To start the second half, the Eagles forced a three-and-out. They scored on the following drive, going 70 yards on nine plays. Priest broke for big runs in the drive setting up another 1-yard rushing touchdown with 8:51 remaining on the clock to put the Eagles up 21-10.
Buffalo regrouped after its three-and-out and answered, completing a 47-yard pass from Davis to Alex Neutz putting it on EMU’s 11. Buffalo ended its drive with Davis throwing to Ed Young for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 21-17.