For the second time this season, Eastern Michigan University was a touchdown away from having a lead in the second half.
“We had a chance to go up seven,” EMU coach Ron English said. “But instead, they go up seven.”
Eagles redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz was intercepted by OU redshirt junior cornerback Devin Bass in the end zone for a touchback with EMU four yards out. On the next play, Bobcats senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw an 80-yard TD pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Chase Cochran to give OU a 28-21 lead after the PAT.
That sparked the Bobcats’ 35-7 run in the second half to beat the Eagles 56-21 at Rynearson Stadium to hand EMU (1-6, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) its sixth straight loss.
The Bobcats improved to 5-2 and 2-1 in the MAC.
Aside from the cold temperatures and rain, it wasn’t the best conditions for the Eagles to play under after one of the team’s starting wide receivers, Demarius Reed, was found shot to death early Friday morning.
“We really wanted as a team and a program to honor Demarius today and we gave our best effort in doing that,” English said.
A moment of silence was held before the game and many players from both EMU and OU met at midfield after the game to honor him with a prayer.
One week after his best performance of the season, EMU junior running back Bronson Hill carried the Eagles offense again with 23 touches for 257 yards and a touchdown, including a 70-yard run late in the third quarter that led to a TD. He accounted for more than half of the EMU offense, which had 477 total yards.
“My whole line did a wonderful job today blocking, so they made it easy for me to make the right reads and right cuts,” Hill said.
The Eagles’ passing has seen better days, though. Benz went 12-of-22 with 152 yards, two TD’s and two interceptions. Freshman quarterback Brogan Roback was brought into the game late in the third quarter after Benz’s second interception. He went 2-of-6 with 11 passing yards.
On the other side of the ball, Tyler Tettleton had a career day for the Bobcats. He threw for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns, both personal bests. He also completed 76.7 percent of his passes and had a QB passer-rating of 219.0.
OU rushed in its other four touchdowns, with two of them coming from senior running back Beau Blankenship, who had 12 carries for 62 yards. 148 team rushing yards was the lowest the Eagles have allowed this season.
With high emotions at kickoff, EMU junior Tyler Allen returned the opening kickoff down the left side, cutting through the middle and racing down the right side for a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the Eagles first return TD of the season and gave an early 7-0 lead.
“I’m so happy for [him] because [he’s] been working at it for a long time as a kick returner,” English said. “I knew it was going to happen for him.”
Tettleton and the Bobcats offense answered quickly as it moved the ball downfield in 2:09, resulting in a 14-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Mario Dovell.
After a fumble by Eagles junior back Ryan Brumfield on EMU’s 30, Blankenship put together five straight rushes followed by a four-yard TD pass from Tettleton to other senior wide receiver Matt Waters for a 14-7 Bobcats lead.
Just 3:14 into the second quarter, Benz found sophomore wide receiver Dustin Creel in the back of the end zone. Despite Creel leaping for the ball, he was able to touch both feet down to complete the catch and pull the Eagles within one possession.
A big catch from Creel on third-and-five kept an EMU drive going in the third quarter. After three rushes for 23 yards by Hill, Benz hit wide open junior tight end Tyreese Russell on a seam for a 62-yard reception TD. That completed a 99-yard drive and tied the game at 21.
Benz’s interception in the Bobcats end zone and Tettleton’s TD passes to Cochran and senior wide receiver Donte Foster in the next five minutes followed.
“We had all the momentum, [but] it becomes a 14-point swing,” English said.
Ohio University used senior Travis Carrie at quarterback for the fourth quarter. He went three-for-three with 24 yards and rushed in a TD from a yard out.
EMU’s time of possession was 31:52 to OU’s 28:08.
OU had 547 total yards with 399 passing yards between Tettleton and Carrie.
EMU had nine kickoff returns for 216 yards.
OU was six-for-seven in the red zone, while EMU was two-for-three.
EMU sophomore linebacker Ike Spearman led the defense with ten tackles and had an interception late in the second half.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter @derrickvergo.
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