Eastern Michigan avoided their fifth straight defeat when they took down the Toledo Rockets 28-26. EMU’s offense scored at will in the first half but completely disappeared after halftime. The team scored all 28 points in the first two quarters forcing the defense to stand tall in crunch time. If it wasn’t for a failed two point conversion by Toledo in the final 10 seconds of the game, EMU would have found themselves in their third overtime game of the year.
Both of Eastern Quarterbacks saw the field against Toledo. Tyler Wiegers and Mike Glass III have split time throughout the season. Neither found the endzone through their air but Glass’s elite running ability proved to be a catalyst for the offense. Glass rushed the ball ten times for 125 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, he threw for another 100 yards while completing six of eight passing attempts. Glass’s ability to be a multiple purpose tool at the quarterback position is a key reason why the Eagles were able to dominate the first half the way they did. In addition to Glass, senior Running Back Shaq Vann found the endzone on a one yard rush at the goal line. Vann’s touchdown gave the Eagles a 28-3 lead heading into halftime looking poised to run away with the victory.
EMU’s defense was dominate in the first half. Toledo struggled to move the ball with any level of efficiency. This story rang true through the third quarter as well. Toledo mustered a field goal in the third but nothing more. Eastern attempted to respond with a field goal of their own on the following drive but Kicker Chad Ryland missed a 32 yard field goal attempt.
After hitting his first five field goal attempts on the season, Ryland has gone on to miss four of his next eight attempts. Each of the last three games EMU has played have ended with a final score within three points. EMU is 1-2 in these matchups proving how crucial these missed field goals have been. This pattern of close games is nothing new to EMU. Dating back to November of 2016, EMU has lost 12 games, 11 of which have been by seven points or fewer.
In the fourth quarter Toledo’s offense began to find success. Toledo scored two touchdowns in rapid succession while EMU’s offense began to stall. With four and a half minutes left in the game Toledo’s offense took to the field down eight points. After forcing a crucial third down, EMU defender Blake Bogan intercepted a pass that set the Eagles up with the ball on their own 23.
EMU’s offense took over with the opportunity to seal the game with a couple of first downs. The team managed to secure one first down but were forced to decide whether to punt or go for it on a fourth and one from their own 42 yard line. Head Coach Chris Creighton elected to go for it and running back Jairus Grissom was stuffed. EMU turned the ball over to Toledo in their own territory up 28-20 with just under two minutes left to play.
It only took Toledo seven plays to move down the field and score. Toledo Quarterback Mitchell Guadagni capped off the drive with a 10 yard touchdown run. The score brough Toledo within two but the Rockets failed to score on the two point conversion attempt. EMU recovered Toledo’s onside kick attempt which ended Toledo’s comeback attempt.
After four consecutive defeats, the win over Toledo was much needed for EMU’s morale. The team sits at 3-4 with five games left to play. The team will need to win three of their next five if they plan on playing post season football. Six victories are required to be bowl eligible and Eastern has no time to waste. The hunt for six continues next week, as Eastern travels to Ball State University on Saturday, October 20th.