A cold day at Rynearson Stadium turned even colder for the Eastern Michigan University Eagles when they fell to Mid-American Conference powerhouse Northern Illinois University Huskies 49-7 in the regular season finale.
The game was also the last for the Eagle seniors on the team.
EMU fell to 2-10 (1-7 MAC) while NIU completed the season 11-1 (8-0 MAC) on an 11-game winning streak. The Huskies are also on a
16-game conference win streak.
There were signs that this would be a long day for the Eagles after the first snap of the game was fumbled by quarterback Tyler Benz. He recovered the fumble and EMU ended up going three and out.
Three drives later, NIU were the first on the board after running back Akeem Daniels took a carry 25 yards for a touchdown.
EMU struck back on their next possession, driving 82 yards which was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Benz to fullback Matt Boyd to tie the score at seven.
The struggles on special teams from earlier this season resurfaced as Tommy Lee Lewis took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 93 yards to give the Huskies the advantage.
“We didn’t keep our leverage on the kick return,” EMU coach Ron English said. “When you are a struggling team like we are, things that kill momentum like that happen.”
The game remained sloppy following the NIU touchdown.
On the Huskies’ next possession, Daniels scored his second touchdown of the game from 20 yards out. He appeared to be tackled for only a three yard gain, but broke the tackles on his way to the end zone.
Then, on NIU’s next drive, the Eagle defense forced a punt, only to give the Huskies a first down after being penalized for too many men on the field.
“That play was huge,” English said. “We couldn’t stop them on third or fourth down and to have a play like that hurt us very much at that point in the game.”
The Eagles almost stopped the Huskies, forcing another fourth down, but NIU went for it and quarterback Jordan Lynch connected for a 43-yard touchdown pass to receiver Martel Moore. The play was another example of poor tackling by the Eagle defense.
“Everything changes when you don’t score,” English said. “We had chances to tie the game up a couple times, but we didn’t tie the score. That allowed our defense to keep getting more tired and allowed Northern Illinois to keep pushing away.”
NIU outscored EMU 21-0 in the second half. Daniels scored four rushing touchdowns in the game for the Huskies.
With a 2-10 record, the season for the Eagles is over. There is plenty to say as to what EMU needs to improve on, but if these things actually happen or not, only time will tell.