The Eastern Michigan University Eagles (2-9 overall, 1-6 Mid-American Conference) get to keep the Michigan MAC football trophy after a 29-23 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos (4-8 overall, 2-6 MAC) Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Eagles sophomore running back Tyler Allen opened the game with a 45-yard kick return to start the opening drive on their own 47-yard line. EMU got on the board first with a three-yard touchdown run by redshirt senior running back Dominique Sherrer. The point after by freshman kicker Dylan Mulder put the Eagles ahead 7-0.
The Broncos were nearing the redzone after six plays on their opening drive until senior linebacker Justin Cudworth got the sack on Broncos’ quarterback Alex Carder and caused a fumble to be recovered by EMU senior defensive back Alex Bellfy at the 36 yard line.
Senior quarterback Alex Gillett had a huge 42-yard run, eventually brought down at the Broncos’ 23 yard line, driving the ball to the four. After which newly inserted quarterback redshirt sophomore Tyler Benz rolled to the right and found junior wide receiver Donald Scott in the middle of the end zone, extending their lead to
14-0 with 3:46 to go in the first quarter.
The Broncos made their way to the one-yard line on the next possession, scoring on a Carder pass to tight end Blake Hammond for the touchdown with 14:55 to go in the half. The Eagles still led the game with a score of 14-7.
The Eagles drove down to the red zone again with the help of a 24-yard catch by freshman wide receiver Dustin Creel, and a pair of 10- and 11-yard runs by Sherrer and sophomore running back Bronson Hill respectively. Being stopped four yards from the endzone, the Eagles settled for a Mulder field goal, making the score 17-7 with 8:21 to go in the half.
With 5:01 to go, the Eagles’ offense was held to a three-and-out. A fake punt play went wrong when Sherrer got the direct snap, but did not get the five yards needed for the first down in Bronco territory.
WMU quickly responded with Carder hitting receiver Justin Collins on the deep post route, cutting the deficit back down to three with the score of 17-14 at the half.
The second half opened up with WMU receiving the ball. The Broncos drove to the EMU 19-yard line and tied the game with a field goal
by kicker Andrew Haldeman at 17-17.
The tie was short lived. Ten plays later, the Eagles got their second field goal to put them ahead 20-17, with the help of Hill’s 24-yard run to start the drive.
With 7:53 left in the third quarter, EMU’s offense made their way to the 9-yard line after Gillett’s only pass of the game was completed to Hill for a 37-yard gain. This ended in a rather unconventional touchdown pass from Benz to Gillett for Gillett’s 50th offensive touchdown of his college football career. This put the Eagles ahead 26-17 after the missed PAT.
WMU looked to score again as the third quarter came to a close, but Carder’s pass was intercepted by senior defensive back Marcell Rose
at the EMU 28-yard line.
EMU couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and had to punt it away to the Broncos, where they turned around and hit their second field goal, cutting the Eagles’ lead to six with the score 26-20.
EMU made it a two possession game again, though. After seven rushing plays, the Eagles took almost five and a half minutes off the clock and ended with a field goal to put them ahead 29-20.
The Broncos came galloping again on their next drive. Starting on their own 12 yard line, they drove 78 yards in less than two minutes, just falling inches short of the end zone after a 9-yard pass from Carder to Collins. Carder’s next pass was incomplete, and WMU settled for their third field goal of the day. The score was 29-23 with 0:49 left in the game.
The hands team got on the field as the Broncos attempted an onside kick, but EMU junior wide receiver Dustin Daniels came down with the ball after the high bouncer.
Benz and the Eagles took the field in the victory formation and after taking two knees, the team was able to keep the Michigan MAC trophy at home in Ypsilanti.
Benz had a good game, completing 13 out of his 21 attempted passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Gillett had one completed pass for 37 yards, ran the ball nine times for 60 yards, had five catches for 45 yards and one touchdown.
Senior tight end Garrett Hoskins had three catches for 27 yards and Scott had two receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown.
Hill led the team in rushing with 17 carries for 77 yards, but Sherrer had the only rushing touchdown to go with his eight carries for 16 yards.
Mulder, aside from his one missed extra point, hit all three of his field goals from 22, 43 and 34 yards away respectively, totaling 11 points for the day.
This is the first time EMU has beaten WMU in back-to-back seasons since 1990-91, and their first back-to-back Michigan MAC championships since 2007-08.
WMU head coach Bill Cubit was fired after the game.
The Eagles have one game left on their schedule, where they will face Northern Illinois Nov. 23 at Rynearson Stadium.
The game will mark Senior Day for the Eagles and kickoff will be at 1 p.m. Come see the Eagles as they wrap up the 2012 season.