Eastern Michigan held a 28-15 lead over the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils with just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. However, after allowing a one-yard touchdown run by Keonte Lucas and a 68-yard strike from Aaron Winchester to Tyshaun James, the Eagles found themselves staring at a one point deficit with just 20 seconds remaining. That is until Matthew Sexton made the game-winning play.
"One hundred percent. There is no way he (Demarius Reed) wasn't looking out for us on that one," Sexton said after blocking the punt and returning it for a touchdown. "We've been practicing that all week. They had their guard and their tackle and they were tight. Without the specialist team, there is no way that happens. It's just taking the ball off the foot. How it bounced up right into my hands, I don't know, that's a blessing from God. I'll take it."
Sexton, who helped give the Eagles a 34-29 victory, was chosen to wear Reed's former number. After Reed's passing in 2013, the jersey was temporarily retired for five years until the team decided to issue the number to their best senior wide receiver as a way to honor his legacy.
Not only did Sexton make the game-winning play on special teams, he also caught two passes from senior quarterback Mike Glass III for 12 yards.Glass threw for a career-high four touchdown passes on 26 completions for 279 yards. He also threw his third and fourth interceptions of the season after a 50-minute weather delay.
When asked how the delay affected the players, Sexton proclaimed: "It is a business trip no matter what. It is something that this year we haven't had to deal with. That is just something we handle with poise. Its adversity and without adversity, it doesn't make a great team."
By defeating Central Connecticut State, the Eagles have ended their 0-10 skid following Big Ten wins over the past few years. Head coach Chris Creighton was relieved to put the streak behind his team but still acknowledges that there is a lot more work to be done.
"I got out coached and out prepared. It feels as though they played harder than we did," he said. "I know the whole country just chalks it up as time goes by as just another win and you move on and all of that, but I'm just not wired that way. I'm not saying that is right, that is just my issue."
Kobie Beltram led the defensive attack for the Eagles, recording a game-high 12 tackles, as well as forcing and recovering a fumble. Beltrum also defensed a pass by the Blue Devils. Despite Beltram's exceptional play, coach Creighton felt that more needed to be done by his team's defensive unit.
"I just don't know that we had a lot of life defensively early. There wasn't the energy that is needed on top of that, one of the ways to change that is to make plays," Creighton said. "I think that forced fumble was an absolutely huge play. He (Beltram) is a good leader and he's a good player for us. I love having him on our team."
Both Eastern Michigan and Central Connecticut State leave Rynearson Stadium with records of 3-1 heading into their bye weeks. The Blue Devils will travel to take on the Sacred Heart University Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 5, while the Eagles will travel upstate to take on conference rival Central Michigan.
The Eagles are 3-1 for the first time since 2016.