Eastern Michigan football suffers their second straight overtime defeat, this time to Northern Illinois University, dropping them to 0-2 in MAC play. The offense struggled as a whole, going a whole quarter without a first down and delivering an abysmal performance on third down throughout the game. The team converted only three of their 18 attempts on third down but still found themselves in a position to win late. After forcing a turnover in the second overtime period, Chad Ryland missed a game winning field goal that inevitably cost the Eagles the victory.
The first quarter was the best quarter for the Eagles. An early interception by Freddie McGee III set EMU up with favorable position and all of the momentum. The team began to drive down the field before facing a third and long in NIU territory. Quarterback Tyler Wiegers delivered a strike into the endzone intended for Blake Banham but the pass was dropped. EMU was forced to settle for a field goal taking a 3-0 lead. On the following possession for the Eagles, Wiegers managed to find Line Latu running a streak up the seam, connecting for an EMU touchdown. The offense was rolling but they soon came to a screeching halt.
The second and third quarter for Eastern Michigan can be summed up in three words, three and out. The offense failed to gain a first down on eight straight drives. NIU’s defense had figured out the Eagle’s offensive game plan and it showed. Not only was the offense struggling but special teams woes began to show their face. After a botched snap on an NIU punt, EMU took over on their opponents 36 yard line. With the offense struggling the pressure was put on Ryland. He never got the chance to hit the kick as NIU blocked the field goal, their sixth block of the season.
At the start of the fourth, with the Eagles trailing 10-13, the offense secured their first first down in second half. The offensive effort was all for nothing however as Ryland missed a field goal attempt that would have tied the game. With two minutes left in the game the offense returned to the field with a chance to win or tie. The offense struggled all game long but things began to click when it mattered most. A crucial completion between Wiegers and Banham set Ryland up well in range to tie the game. As the final seconds ticked off the clock Ryland drilled a 28 yard field goal to tie and the game was going to overtime.
In the first overtime periods both offense found success with little resistance. Running back Shaq Vann scored from 14 yards out but the NIU answered in a hurry. With both teams scoring the game moved forward into the second overtime period. EMU’s defense dominated all game long and nearly secured the victory with a fumble recovery by Kevin McGill. Eastern’s offense took over only needing three points to win. The team ran three plays for minimal yards but set Ryland up for makeable attempt from the middle of the field. Ryland missed the kick, effectively sealing EMU’s fate. NIU scored a touchdown in the third overtime while EMU was only able to muster a field goal. EMU lost by a final score of 20-23.