Being the closest to winning a game since week one, Eastern Michigan University lined up for a two-point conversion in an effort to tie Western Michigan University with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“We practiced [this] two-point play since the first day we got here last spring,” EMU interim head coach Stan Parrish said.
Freshman quarterback Brogan Roback took the snap and handed it to Ryan Brumfield. The junior running back took a couple steps to the left, turned back to the right and zipped the ball back to Roback, who carried the reception in for the two-point conversion.
“I’m sure there had been some Thursday nights that those kids [said] ‘What are we doing this for?’ Well, they got it,” Parrish said.
Brumfield completed his heroics in overtime. A four-yard touchdown run cutting through the defensive line secured the Eagles’ 35-32 come-from-behind victory in overtime on the Broncos at Rynearson Stadium.
“Brumfield was the biggest surprise,” Parrish said.
He led the EMU offense with 148 rushing yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, including a 23-yarder he had to top off the first drive of the game, putting the Eagles up 7-0 early. It was his first 100-yard rushing game of his career.
The Eagles (2-8, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) ended their eight-game losing streak one day after firing former head coach Ron English. Parrish was the offensive coordinator before he was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
“I took the ball from the manager and came in as the relief pitcher,” Parrish said.
Despite putting up 480 total yards to the Eagles’ 400, WMU (1-9, 1-5 MAC) fell to EMU for the third year in a row.
Freshman quarterback Zach Terrell threw 24-for-39 with 348 yards. He also had an interception and a 70-yard passing TD he threw late in the third quarter to sophomore wide receiver Corey Davis.
Yet, the Broncos leading scorer was sophomore kicker Andrew Haldeman. He was six-for-six in field goals as three of them gave the Broncos the lead at different points of the game. His longest was a 48-yarder that came with 1:23 left in first quarter to put his team up 10-7, following Roback’s interception.
With 7:58 left in the second quarter, Roback allowed the Eagles to regain the lead after he scampered into the end zone from eight yards out with a clear running lane to his left. Roback had five rushes for 10 yards and threw 9-for-22 with 136 yards and a passing TD.
Two field goals (23 yards and 30 yards) courtesy of Haldeman allowed the Broncos to take a 16-14 lead into the half.
“At halftime I said, ‘This is fun, isn’t it? This is what we play for,” Parrish said.
After not seeing much playing time in the first quarter, junior back Bronson Hill gave EMU the lead back with a ten-yard rushing touchdown that saw him shake off several Broncos defenders. With 6:49 left in the third quarter, the Eagles held a 21-16 lead.
Hill had 23 touches for 114 yards to go with his TD.
55 seconds later, Terrell erased that deficit with a 70-yard bomb to Davis for the score and a 23-21 lead for WMU. That was one of Davis’s six catches he had for 112 yards and led the game in both categories.
With less than two minutes left in the game on fourth-and-six, Roback rolled left in desperation of a receiver, only to decide to take the ball himself and front flip over a WMU defender near the left sideline for seven yards and a first down on the Broncos’ 18.
Three plays and an EMU timeout later, Roback hit sophomore receiver Dustin Creel for a 10-yard TD pass that proceeded to the game-tying two-point conversion putting the game at 29-29.
Creel had two receptions for 29 yards to go along with his touchdown as he was second to junior tight end Tyreese Russell, who led EMU with four catches for 76 yards.
WMU failed to score in that frame, going three-and-out and punting the ball back to the Eagles with 26 seconds left in regulation.
EMU used Brumfield to run the clock out to overtime.
The Broncos were forced to kick a field goal on fourth down after accumulating just six yards on the first three downs in OT, meaning an Eagles’ touchdown would be a game-winner.
And it was.
After Roback connected to Russell for a ten yard gain on third-and-ten, Brumfield followed with a ten-yard run and then his four-yard TD run to seal the game.
Saturday’s game was held in honor of Julia Niswender, the EMU student who was killed in her off-campus apartment last December.
It was the first game this season that the Eagles had two players rush over 100 yards.
EMU redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz sat out an entire game for the first time this season. The last time Benz sat out an entire game was week two of last season (Sept. 8, 2012 against Illinois State University).
Holdeman’s six field goals is the second-highest in a game in WMU history. The most is seven.
Terrell’s preview career-best passing yard total was 275 he put up in the Broncos last game against University of Massachusetts.
Both teams were perfect in the red zone as the Broncos were six-for-six and the Eagles were four-for-four.
The last three meetings between the Broncos and Eagles have been decided by six points or fewer.
Game attendance: 2,177.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter @derrickvergo.