The Eagles (3-1) beat the Wyoming Cowboys (2-2) in a 27-24 game where the Eagle defense stood strong to keep the team in the game.
Despite a four interception game by redshirt junior quarterback Todd Porter, Eastern Michigan was able to start their season with a 3-1 record, the best start since 1995. The Eagles were led by the defense that allowed only 10 points over the course of the game while also posting a total of seven tackles-for-loss.
“We ended up turning it over, four interceptions and still winning it goes against everything that I’ve preached for the last 25 years.” Said coach Chris Creighton
The Eagles offense ran for a combined 239 yards on 47 carries for a team average of 5.1 yards-per-carry. They also had 261 passing yards by the two quarterbacks who played on Friday night.
Todd Porter led the offense into this game after a good performance against Charlotte in the previous week. Porter completed 50 percent of his passes as he threw for 214 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. Two of Porter interceptions were returned for touchdowns. In the fourth quarter, with about eight minutes left in the game redshirt junior Brogan Roback was sent into the game. Roback completed 50 percent of his passes as he threw for 47 yards.
“He (Todd Porter) was our guy going into it. He did a lot of things right in this game and made some costly decisions,” said Creighton. “The reason we made the switch was that we needed some life. It’s a feeling thing on the sideline.”
On the receiving end junior Sergio Bailey led the team with five receptions for 66 yards. Redshirt freshman Nigel Kilby led the team in receiving yards as he had 84 yards on four receptions.
When it came to the running game, redshirt sophomore Ian Eriksen led the team with 120 yards as well as the game-winning touchdown run. Porter contributed an additional 61 rushing yards including a 30 yard run. Redshirt freshman Breck turner ran for his first career touchdown as he had a 50 yard run.
“The run seemed to be working a lot of the time. We were getting positive yards even if it was three of four. But the o-line did great like they always do,” said running back Ian Eriksen.
The defense led the Cowboys to only rush for 79 yards as a team while averaging 2.1 yard-per-carry. They did surrender 234 passing yards as Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen threw 65.5 percent of his passes.
The defense was led by a 11 tackle game from redshirt sophomore linebacker Kyle Rachwal. True freshman Vince Calhoun had a game to remember as he had eight tackles, a forced fumble and a game winning interception. Redshirt Sophomore Jerimiah Harris had a blocked field goal as well as a sack. The Eagles, as a team, sacked Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen three times and forced three turnovers by the Cowboys offense. The allowed no rushing lanes as the cowboys had seven tackles-for-loss.
“The main focus was that last year, they ran for 410 yards on us so that is what they preached to us,” said linebacker Kyle Rachwal.
The Eagles won the coin-toss and differed to receive the second half kick-off. The defense held Wyoming to a punt and the Eagle offense drove down into Wyoming territory. On third down Todd Porter was intercepted by Marcus Epps and Epps returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.
With the score at 7-0 Wyoming, the Eagles worked their way inside the Wyoming 30 yard line, and redshirt Paul Fricano kicked a career high 46-yard field goal to put the score at 7-3. The Eagles would hold the Cowboys to a three-and-out on the next possession. The Eagles next drive would be stopped by Porters second interception of the game.
The last possession of the first quarter would end with a Wyoming field goal. On the next possession Epps would pick up his second interception of Porter. The Cowboys then went down the field to score a touchdown on a five-yard run by Brian Hill.
Vince Calhoun forced a fumble to give the Eagles the ball with 1:32 to go in the half. They went for 52-yards and the drive ended with a touchdown to Johnnie Niupalau to tie the game 17-17 at the half.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Eagles kicked a field goal to take the lead for the first time in the game. On the last drive of the third quarter Josh Allen hurdled a player to get into the end zone. The play was reviewed and reversed to set the Cowboys at the Eastern 1-yardline. A false-start penalty pushed the Cowboys back five yards and Jerimiah Harris blocked the field goal to give the Eagles the ball and send the game into the fourth quarter.
On the following possession the Eagles went three-and-out and the Cowboys fumbled the ball. Todd Porter then threw his fourth interception of the game that was returned for a touchdown to give the Cowboys the lead, 24-20.
With 7:59 to go coach Creighton put back-up quarterback Brogan Roback into the game. The drive ended in a punt and the Cowboys would go three-and-out the following possession.
Starting in Wyoming territory, Roback and Eriksen led the Eagles down the field to score the touchdown to take the lead with 1:35 to go. Josh Allen would be intercepted by Vince Calhoun and the Eagles would run out the rest of the clock to win 27-24.
Eastern Michigan will now travel down to Bowling Green, Ohio face the Bowling Green State University Falcons (1-2). The game is set to kick off on Saturday, Oct 1 at 3 pm.
“One of the things we are doing as a program is believing in each other, believing in ourselves and believing we can do things before they happen.” Said Creighton.