Eastern Michigan (2-1) football faced off against University of North Carolina Charlotte (1-2) and dominated through the passing game and on defense in a 37-19 win in Charlotte.
The Eagles traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina to face off against the 49ers in a non-conference battle. Eastern Michigan hoped to rebound after a disappointing loss to Missouri the previous week.
“I love those guys in the locker room and I’m proud of them; this is a big win for us tonight,” said coach Chris Creighton.
Eastern was led on offense by redshirt junior quarterback Todd Porter who threw for 285 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. There was question on who would start the game at quarterback as former starter, redshirt junior Brogan Roback returned from his team suspension.
On the receiving end of the football, Porter completed passes to nine different receivers. Leading the way was junior Antoine Porter who had 6 catches for 66 yards. Junior Johnnie Niupalau led the team in receiving yards as he had a career high of 72 yards as well as his first touchdown.
The Eagles struggled to run the ball on offense as they carried the ball 30 time for only 72 yards of production. They were led by redshirt freshman Breck Turner who carried the ball five timed for 20 yards.
“You can’t dwell on interceptions; you can’t dwell on a bad play. And I get back and the team is like ‘forget about it’ and we move onto the next play.” Said Porter.
The defense helped with scoring as the team scored 21 points off of turnovers in the game. Sophomore Jaylen Pickett led the team with two interceptions of 49er quarterback Kevin Olsen and returned one of them for a touchdown.
“Coach Creighton preached turnovers all the time, and we tried to make it happen, winning the turnover battle tonight.” Said Pickett.
The defense did surrender 157 rushing yards as they struggled to stop UNCC’s Robert Washinton who ran for 120 yards on 20 carries as he averaged six yards-per-carry. They did contain the passing game as they only surrendered 189 passing yards to quarterbacks Olsen and Hasaan Klugh.
Redshirt seniors Pat O’Connor and Ike Spearman each contributed a sack in the contest. Redshirt sophomore Jerimiah Harris led the team with 10 tackles while redshirt sophomore Chris Hendricks forced a fumbled that was recovered by Kyle Rachwal.
When it came to special teams, redshirt freshman Paul Fricano was perfect on all of his kicks and his extra points. Junior Austin Barnes has been consistent so far as he averaged 46.5 yards-per-punt on three punts. Redshirt sophomore Blake Banham helped give the eagles good field position as he averaged 35.3 yards a return including a 47-yard return.
“During the pre-game meal we said we were going to make a statement about who we are,” said Creighton. “We had guys step up and play and that is a good thing.”
The Eagles will now focus on Friday as they play the University of Wyoming (2-1) under the lights at Rynearson Stadium. The Eagles beat the Cowboys last season in Laramie, Wyoming, 48-29. Kickoff is set for 7:30.