The Eastern Michigan football team played its best game of the season so far, but still came up short losing 23-7 to the 21st ranked Michigan State Spartans (3-1). The Eagles had a 7-3 lead going into the half, but were unable to score a point after halftime as the team wasn’t able to keep up with the Spartan’s offense.
MSU was held to a field goal in the first half as the Eagles’ defense looked prepared for the game after an embarrassing loss to Purdue Sept. 15. The team played sharp defense, but still managed to give up 428 yards of total offense for the game.
During the first half, the defense was able to come up with big plays on third down. They played with a bend-but-don’t-break style keeping State at bay, but the offense didn’t do their part in the game.
The team made major changes to the starting lineup after the loss to Purdue, changing starting quarterbacks from senior Alex Gillett to sophomore Tyler Benz. Benz, who had his first career start, was 13 for 26 on the day for 137 yards and also had his first passing touchdown in the second quarter to junior wide receiver Donald Scott.
That proved to be the only touchdown of the day for the Eagles as they were held scoreless in the second half, in part because of the Spartans’ junior running back Le’Veon Bell, who had a career best, rushing for 253 yards on 36 carries.
On the receiving end, Spartan junior tight end Dion Sims had six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
MSU’s junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell was never able to get into a steady rhythm and only went 16 for 29 passing and threw one interception. MSU’s win against the Eagles moves their record to 3-1 on the season and keeps EMU winless.
Despite changes at quarterback, the offense was still lacking for EMU, who was only 2-14 on third down and was unable to move the ball. Their only offensive touchdown came on a turnover on a Michigan State fumble from junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler giving the Eagles good field position.
An Eastern fan who traveled to both this game and the Purdue game the week before was happy about the team’s improvement but was still upset at the result.
“It was a lot easier to watch than the Purdue game last week,” Kevin Hart said. “They were actually in this game but still couldn’t come up with big plays when they needed them.”
The Eagles will have a bye this weekend and won’t play again until Homecoming weekend, Oct. 6, against Kent State.