For the second time in school history Eastern Michigan’s football team defeated a Big Ten opponent when they beat Purdue University 20-19 on September 8th in West Lafayette. Starting quarterback Tyler Wiegers delivered an efficient performance completing 20 of his 28 passing attempts for 312 yards and a touchdown on the way to a victory. Despite Wiegers performance, the hero of the game was kicker Chad Ryland who drilled two field goals, including a game winner as time expired to secure the victory for EMU.
Eastern scored their first points of the game late in the first quarter. After Purdue hit a field goal it only took one play for Eastern to find the end zone. Wiegers connected with wide out Matthew Sexton for a 75 yard touchdown pass. Sexton leaped over the defender to secure the grab and let his legs do the rest of the work. He raced down the sideline before leaping into the endzone to give EMU a 7-3 lead.
It wasn’t until the end of second quarter until Eastern put together another scoring drive. With under a minute left to play before the half, EMU drove the ball 65 yards to set up a Chad Ryland field goal. Wide receiver and team captain Blake Banham made a crucial catch on a thirty yard pass from Wiegers that inevitably lead to a field goal as time expired. Following the field goal, EMU headed into the losing, 10-12.
The scoring came to a halt as neither team managed to score in the third quarter. However in the fourth the action picked up in a hurry. With seven minutes left to play, junior running back Breck Turner capped off a four play, 44 yard drive with a nine yard touchdown run. With the score, EMU moved into the driver’s seat leading 17-12.
Unfortunately for the Eagles Purdue wouldn’t go away without a fight. The Boilermakers drove 65 yards in a little over a minute to reclaim the lead 17-19. A 45 yard run from Purdue running back D.J. Knox seemed to have taken the air out of Eastern’s sails.
The quick touchdown for Purdue left the Eagles with plenty of time to attempt a comeback. Two crucial penalties helped EMU immensely on their final possession. On third down, Wiegers was sacked nearly ending the drive but a fifteen yard, personal foul call against Purdue kept the Eagles in the ballgame. Following three plays that amounted in a loss of five yard for Eastern, the team took the field facing a fourth and fifteen for the game. Wiegers stood in the pocket and completed a clutch pass to Arthur Jackson III for 23 yards to keep the game alive.
Another costly penalty, this time a defensive pass interference, moved the Eagles into the Purdue redzone with just two minutes left to play. It was only a matter of time until Eastern Michigan ran out the field goal unit to attempt to secure the victory. The team ran the clock down to prevent any chance of retaliation from Purdue’s offense following the field goal attempt. Chad Ryland lined up from 24 yards out and drilled the game winning kick as time expired. Eastern claimed their second victory of the season and their second victory over a Big Ten opponent in Purdue by the final score of 20-19.