MUNCIE, Ind. —In its first win since Nov. 28, 2008, the Eastern Michigan University football team defeated Ball State 41-38 in overtime at Scheumann Stadium.
Saturday’s game at Ball State (2-5, 1-1 MAC) started out the same way most of the last 18 Eastern Michigan (1-5, 1-3 MAC) games have. The Eagles were down 21 points well into the second quarter before clawing their way back into the game, making the score 28-14 at the half. Which Included answering a 92-yard kickoff return by Eric Willams with just under three minutes to play in the half, by completing a 73-yard touchdown pass to Garret Hoskins.
Picking up from where they left off, the Eagles outscored Ball State 21-7 in the second half, and regulation ended with the two teams tied at 35.
College overtime is not sudden-death, both teams start from the 25-yard line and have a chance to move the ball and collect first downs, a touchdown, or settle for a field goal. If the teams are still tied at the end of both team’s possessions, the game continues in the same format.
The Eagles deferred to the Cardinals in overtime, choosing to defend first.
Ball State started out with a two-yard run for a loss by MiQuale Lewis. From the Eagles’ 27-yard line, the EMU defense kept quarterback Keith Wenning and receiver Jack Tomlinson from hooking up twice on second and third down to force a 44-yard field goal attempt. Ian McGarvey made the field goal and put the Cardinals up 38-35.
The Eagles got their chance from the 25 yard line and Alex Gillett showed he could bear the weight of the offense.
Gillett extended the Eagles’ possession on a third-and-14 with a 15-yard scamper, giving them a first down. He finished off the Cardinals, connecting with tight end Ben Thayer in the end zone. Thayer finished with three catches, 65 yards, and two touchdowns. Kinsman Thomas also helped move the chains by making six catches for 87 yards.
“We were beat up front,” Ball State head coach Stan Parrish told ballstatesports.com. “We got what we deserved. We had our chances in the first half to put that game away. We are not good enough to do that yet. It comes down to blocking and tackling. We did neither.”
In Previous games head coach Ron English has inserted Devotae Payne into the game for brief spells. We didn’t see that on Saturday, as English went with his experienced quarterback.
After a lengthy 93-yard 19-play 10 minute drive for EMU It looked like the Eagles were going to win in regulation being up 35-28 with less than five minutes to go in the game. Ball State had other plans as Wenning took the Cardinals on an impressive drive of their own. Marching the Cardinals from their own 32, down to the Eagles’ 9-yard line Wenning found Briggs Orbson for the touchdown. With 28 seconds left the Eagles ran just one play, and went to overtime.
Wenning completed 16 passes out of 30 attempts for just 145 yards, and passed for three touchdowns. Their leading rusher Eric Williams rushed eight times for 62 yards,
Despite giving up 35 points, the Eagles defense posted some decent numbers, and held up when the team needed it to in overtime. The Eagles held Ball State to just 243 yards, and gave up a season low 98 rushing yards. The Eagles forced the Cardinals to punt six times, and forced one fumble. The Eagles sill had problems on defense in the Red Zone, and were unable to stop the Cardinals as they went 4-4 inside the 20.
Eastern heads to Virginia (2-4) next week to take on the struggling Cavilers. Eastern Michigan hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2007 when it beat Northern Illinois on Sep. 15, followed by Howard on Sep. 22
For highlights, check out Ball State Sports Link’s video recap.