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Eastern Michigan quarterback Preston Hutchinson threw for 250 yards and a touchdown to Tanner Knue while rushing for 104 yards on nine attempts and three touchdowns on Wednesday, Nov. 11 against Ball State.
When asked about Hutchinson’s performance, Eastern Michigan Football Head Coach Chris Creighton said, “He’s a tough guy. I thought he played really well, he’s got to watch the film though, nobody plays perfect. That ball on the four verticals to Tanner at the end was as good a ball as I’ve seen him throw. A great read, and a great ball.”
Knue led the Eagles in receiving with 121 yards on eight receptions, while Bryson Cannon, a senior tight end, exploded for a career-high 76 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles starting lineup was missing three key starters, running back Hassan Beydoun, Darius Boone Jr., and Dylan Drummond. When asked about the player’s status, Creighton said, “None of them were even on the trip, so I don’t know their status right now. Those are three good players, three great guys, and three starters.”
The Eagles struck first after forcing a turnover on downs from Ball State. Hutchinson punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 0-7 advantage. Ball State answered back with a 77-yard drive that started on a 34-yard run from Ball State’s Jusin Hall. Hall finished the game with 125 total yards of offense. The drive culminated in a 7-yard run from Ball State’s Caleb Huntley for a touchdown to put the score at 7-7 with 6:05 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles got the ball back and drove down the field, finishing off their drive with a 10-yard pass from Hutchinson to Bryson Cannon. The score at the end of the first quarter was 7-14 Eastern Michigan. Ball State’s first drive in the second quarter ended in an interception by Eastern Michigan’s Noski Lafleur and returned it 54 yards to set the Eagles up at the Ball State 35. The Eagles were called for an illegal block that moved the ball back to the Ball State 45 to start the Eagles’ first possession of the quarter. The Eagles were stopped on four downs, but got the ball back after Eagle’s defensive lineman Alex Merritt.
The Eagles scored on the subsequent drive on a 10-yard run play from Hutchinson to place the score at 7-20 Eagles with 7:04 left in the second quarter. Ball State and the Eagles then traded field goals, the Eagles’ Chad Ryland hit a 52-yard field goal, tying his career long.
At the end of the third quarter, Ball State drove down the field, converting three fourth-down plays and a crucial pass-interference call that would have resulted in a fourth and 19 for Ball State. Ball State scored on a 13-yard rush from Caleb Huntley. Ball State then lined up to go for two, scoring again on a three yard pass from Drew Plitt to Yo’Heinz Tyler to put the score at 21-24 Eagles going into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had their first drive of the fourth quarter end in a missed field goal. Ball State followed up with a three play, 65-yard drive that ended in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Plitt to Tyler, putting the score at 27-24 Ball State.
The Eagles’ subsequent drive was stymied on a fourth and three. Hutchinson kept the ball on a quarterback read option and was met at the line of scrimmage by three Ball State players. When asked about the play call, Creighton said, “On that one we were following the chart. We had a good play, so we used the analytics for that. I am a feeling guy, so the analytics balance me out. We felt as though we had the right play, but just came up short.”
Ball State added another field goal before the Eagles responded with a touchdown drive, set up by a 71-yard completion from Hutchinson to Knue to set up a one yard touchdown run from Hutchinson, tying the score at 31-31 with 4:12 left in the fourth. The Ball State offense proved too much for the Eagles’ defense, and ran down the clock before scoring on a 11-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a touchdown scored by Huntley.
“A lot of hurt guys in the locker room right now,” Creighton said. “I asked them to fight all game long with conviction, and I can’t fault anyone for not wanting to get it done.”
Ball State then squibbed a kick to Eastern Michigan with six seconds left, but the Eagles couldn’t do anything with it. Final score Ball State 38, Eastern Michigan 31.
Creighton said, “It was a great game, and hats off to Ball State, but it sucks to lose.”
The Eagles will play their third game against Toledo on Wednesday, Nov. 18. This will be the Eagles’ home opener, although no fans will be allowed. The game will be streamed on CBSSN.