The Eastern Michigan football team had to come back from being down 21 points to defeat the Ball State Cardinals in Muncie, Indiana on election night on its way to becoming bowl eligible in a 48-41 victory.
The comeback was tied for the largest in school history as the Eagles had to overcome an early 21-0 deficit in the first quarter after a pair of turnovers led to Ball State touchdowns. The Eagles are not bowl eligible for the first time since 1995 as this is the first midweek Mid-American Conference game for the year for the Eagles.
“There are times when you're down 21 nothing, and absolutely nothing is going right. But that's the point where we have to pick ourselves up and push forward,” said coach Chris Creighton.
The offense allowed the Eagles to comeback as it produced a season-high 622 yards as the offense produced 48 points on the day. 468 yards through the air and 154 on the ground helped Eastern Michigan produce the most offensive yards since 2012 as the offense overcame three turnovers.
Redshirt junior Brogan Roback had a career day against the Cardinals as he threw for 468 yards on 37 of 71 attempts for three touchdowns. The yardage was the third-largest in school history as Roback put himself in the record books. He also ran for 41 yards on the day while adding a rushing touchdown.
“Well, the completion percentage wasn't that high, but in a game where you are down 21 nothing, we always want to try to get up a bit more quickly, and we aim for that balance,” said Creighton.
Redshirt sophomore Ian Eriksen ran for 109 yards on 25 carries for the game while rushing for two touchdowns. Eriksen also added an additional 71 yards receiving on five receptions. He accumulated 180 yards from scrimmage.
Back-to-back 100-yard receiving games highlighted the performance of redshirt freshman Dieuly Artistilde as he accumulated 107 yards on 6 receptions. Junior Sergio Bailey caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt junior Dan Buschman caught the first two touchdowns of his career as he had caught two passes for 31 yards.
Ball State Quarterback Riley Neal threw for 393 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. Carinal running back James Gilbert was held to 54 yards and a touchdown. KeVonn Mabon and Cywettnie Brown led the Ball State receivers with 254 combined yards and three touchdowns as a duo.
The EMU defense allowed 542 yards and 41 points to Cardinals but forced 5 turnovers in the victory. Notably, the defense held Ball State to 2-of-13 on third down on the night.
Senior DaQuan Pace celebrated his birthday as he led the Eagles with eight tackled while reeling in two interceptions. Meanwhile redshirt senior Pat O’Connor became the Eastern Michigan all-time sack leader with 18.5 in his career as he had 1.5 sacks, two tackles-for-loss, a forced fumble, a pass break-up, two quarterback hurries and six tackles for the game. 12 Eagles had four or more tackles in the game as the defense allowed the EMU offense to crawl back into the game.
The Eagles look to win their seventh game of the season as they come home for midweek MACtion against Northern Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Rynearson Stadium.
“When you see veteran players out there, who have put absolutely everything into this program, and want it so badly to succeed, at the end of the game, those are the guys that made this happen,” said Creighton