Bronson Hill had a memorable game to remember Oct. 13 when he ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start for the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Eagles, as the Toledo Rockets came away with a 52-47 shootout victory at Rynearson Stadium. EMU now drops to 0-6 (0-3 Mid-American Conference) on the season while Toledo runs their record to 6-1 (4-0 MAC).
The first quarter didn’t start the way EMU had planned when starting quarterback Tyler Benz’s pass was intercepted off a deflection by Toledo linebacker Dan Molls at the EMU 32-yard line. Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens then capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run to give the Rockets an early 7-0 advantage.
EMU then drove the ball to the Toledo 15-yard line after a 17-yard completion to tight end Garrett Hoskins and a personal foul against Toledo on a third down, but were forced to kick a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.
The Eagles defense made a play on the next Toledo drive when cornerback Marcell Rose intercepted an Owens pass at the EMU 42. Two plays later, Benz completed a 40-yard, third down pass to wide receiver Donald Scott, which put the Eagles at the Toledo 17-yard line. Two plays later, Benz found tight end Tyreese Russell for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles their first lead in a game since the first half at Michigan State three weeks ago.
The momentum the Eagles had ended along with the first quarter, as they were outscored 14-0 to give the Rockets a 21-10 lead at halftime.
An offensive explosion occurred at the 10:18 mark in the third quarter, where both teams scored a combined six touchdowns in just over three minutes. It all started when Hill took a handoff and ran 47 yards for a touchdown after a 30-yard pass to Hoskins. The ensuing kickoff was returned by Bernard Reedy 89 yards for a Toledo touchdown to make the score 28-17. The next drive saw Hill take another handoff to the end zone, this time for a 58-yard run to cut Toledo’s lead down to four points.
“Hill is very talented,” EMU Coach Ron English said. “He is one of the fastest guys in the MAC and it is no surprise he performed like he did today, because he does this all the time in practice.”
The back-and-forth affair lasted the entire third quarter, where Toledo outscored EMU 28-27, with the star players being Hill for the Eagles and Reedy for the Rockets.
“I had to be patient,” Hill said after the game. “I had to let the o-line block and do their assignments so I could mine. They blocked very well.”
The scoring settled down in the last quarter, as only one more touchdown was scored. Hill scored the last touchdown to cut the Rockets’ lead to 52-47, but EMU failed to recover the onside kick, and Toledo held on to the victory.
“I didn’t feel like this was a momentum game. It was just two teams competing to the very end on offense,” English said.
The Eagles’ next game will be Oct. 20 at Rynearson Stadium, where EMU will host Army. The game will begin at 1 p.m.