What once appeared as an optimistic and promising season for the Eastern Michigan football team turned into a nightmare in West Lafayette, Ind. Sept. 15. The Purdue Boilermakers (2-1) blew out the Eagles (0-3) 54-16, giving EMU their third loss this season.
The biggest flaw in the game was Eastern’s defense, which allowed more than four drives of at least 80 yards. The defense was strong in the first quarter, holding Purdue to three and out on their first two drives, but struggled the remainder of the game to stop Purdue’s running game which ran for 392 yards.
The team was still in contention only down 13-9 in the second quarter, but then failed to block a 51-yard touchdown pass from Purdue senior quarterback Caleb Terbush, putting Purdue up 20-9.
The following drive, Eastern drove the ball to Purdue’s 43-yard line and on fourth and one, they elected to punt instead of trying to get another first down. From that point, Purdue scored 34 unanswered points.
Purdue sophomore running back Akeem Hunt only had four rushes during the game, but earned 106 yards and one touchdown on those four runs. EMU’s only touchdown from the first half came from a 28-yard interception from sophomore defensive back Pudge Cotton.
Eastern’s senior quarterback, Alex Gillett, who has been a bright spot so far during the season, struggled during the game throwing nine for 15 for only 66 yards and throwing three interceptions. This gives Gillett six interceptions on the season compared to his four touchdowns.
Though many of Gillett’s picks came from tipped or dropped passes, the Eagles had trouble throwing the ball downfield. The offense was out played by the Boilermakers; they could only go 2-14 on third down compared to 10-15 for Purdue.
Second string quarterback Tyler Benz got to see playing time during the fourth quarter, and went five and 14 passing the ball and threw for more yards than Gillett with 78. He scored his first career rushing touchdown and Eastern’s only offensive touchdown of the game.
The West Lafayette area is 305 miles away from Ypsilanti. The small college town isn’t too different from Ypsilanti and yet for EMU fans who made the drive there was strong disappointment.
“It is just a drag that we drove 300 miles through nothing but miles of cornfields and we just can’t compete,” EMU junior Brandon Kittretll said. “It’s sad. At one point during the game we had a shot we could of gone for the touchdown but went for a field goal instead, and then we had it on fourth and one in their territory and we punted.”
EMU’s schedule only gets tougher from here on out as the team will travel to take on Michigan State University (the tenth ranked team in the nation), before returning home for Kent State.
With a passing offense that is 110th in the nation and a defense ranked 98th, serious changes must be made in calling plays and in defense if the team is going to bounce back and salvage their 2012 season.