The Pittsburgh Panthers (8-5, 4-4) have defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-7, 3-5) in the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit. The final score was 34-30 as Pittsburgh was led by junior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Eastern Michigan is now 1-4 all-time in bowl games.
“We want to continue to get better. We’ve gone to two bowl games back-to-back and three in the last four years. We got in by the skin of our teeth this year,” EMU head coach Chris Creighton said. “We have a long way to go but we’re enjoying the process of getting better. The list of people that have helped us get to where we are is really long.”
EMU got on the scoreboard first as Chad Ryland connected on a 35-yard field goal, following a 57-yard drive. Pickett fumbled on the Panthers’ first drive, which was recovered by Brody Hoying. The Eagles increased their lead to 10-0 as Mike Glass III scored from three yards out. EMU accounted for 78 yards in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh cut into Eastern Michigan’s lead as place kicker Alex Kessman hit a 44-yard field goal with 13:43 left in the second quarter. Just two minutes later, the Panthers tied the game as Pickett found Maurice Ffrench down the sideline for a 96-yard TD, which was the longest play in Pittsburgh school history. The game was tied with 11:57 left in the first half.
Eastern Michigan responded less than two minutes later as Quian Williams caught a deflected pass and scored from 50 yards away. After that, Pittsburgh scored on their third straight possession when Vincent Davis found the end zone. Ryland’s 45-yard field goal would be the final score of the first half as the Eagles led 20-17 at halftime.
Neither team was able to move the ball much in the third quarter as Pittsburgh was the only one to score. Kessman made a 51-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20 with 4:16 left in the quarter. After three quarters, the Eagles had 311 total yards, while Pittsburgh had compiled 285. Despite the advantage, the game was tied heading into the fourth.
Glass found Arthur Jackson III for a 10-yard touchdown with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter but the Panthers answered less than three minutes later as Pickett connected with tight end Jared Wayne. Ryland stayed perfect on the day as he made his third field goal, this one from 48 yards away. The Eagles led 30-27 with 6:00 remaining.
Pittsburgh earned their first lead of the game as Pickett threw a touchdown pass to Taysir Mack with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter, putting the Panthers up 34-30. EMU would have one last chance but Preston Hutchinson’s pass fell incomplete on fourth down. Hutchinson replaced Glass after he was ejected with 10 seconds left.
“We wanted to make those associated with Eastern Michigan University proud. We want to bring that to the department, to the school, and to Ypsilanti. Then even to the region and of course the alumni,” Creighton said. “We’re far from perfect but we’re no longer where we were six years ago.”
The Eagles finished the season with a 6-7 record after going 3-2 in non-conference play with victories over Coastal Carolina, Illinois and Central Connecticut State. Glass led EMU with 311 passing yards, two touchdowns and one pick in the loss to Pittsburgh. Vince Calhoun, senior defensive back, had 11 tackles and a forced fumble for the Eagles
“I came here with a special group of guys. It means a lot. We all set goals to change the perception of the program and I felt like we’ve done that. I came in, set goals and I accomplished a lot of them,” Calhoun said. “I tell the younger guys now, time flies. It’s not always promised and you have to do everything now. It went so fast. It’s unbelievable.”