The Eagles’ rushed for 252 yards on their way to a 31-23 Mid-American Conference win against Akron Saturday afternoon at Rynearson Stadium.
EMU, (3-2, 1-0 MAC), did not have its top two rushers for the majority of the game. With Dominique Sherrer still out due to a knee injury and Javonti Greene leaving late in the first quarter to an apparent knee injury, Dominique White took care of the workload, carrying the ball 28 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
Jawon Chisholm rushed for 122 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown for Akron, (1-4, 0-1 MAC).
It was the first time an Eagle had rushed for three touchdowns in one game since Dwayne Priest helped EMU defeat Buffalo 21-17 in its 2010 season finale. White had 18 carries for 57 yards and no touchdowns in his career before the game.
“We had a great day today,” White said. “But it wasn’t just me, the offensive line really executed. The offensive line made good holes, and I just followed the foundation of the team. It is truly a blessing for guys that aren’t even going to get the ball going all out to make sure the running back has good holes to run through.”
Coach Ron English said, “We like Dominique because he went in there and performed well. Our offensive line played exceptionally and everyone blocked downfield, including the wide receivers.”
White opened the scoring on the Eagles’ second possession after the wind helped make punting difficult and the drive started at the Akron 48-yard line.
On the Eagles’ next possession near the end of the first quarter, Alex Gillett hit wide receiver Donald Scott for a 48-yard pass to the Akron 26-yard line. The play was the longest pass this season and ended the first quarter.
Two plays later, White ran for 13 yards to set up first and goal on the one-yard line, where he would punch it in on the next play, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
The wind hurt the Eagles punting, as well. The next possession ended in a punt that went 19 yards to EMU’s own 36.
“We battled with field positioning,” English said. “Our punting was terrible all day so it affected our defense a little bit I thought.”
An Akron 41-yard field goal attempt was failed due to a false start that pushed them back five yards.
EMU could not capitalize on the field position change however, as Gillett fumbled on a quarterback keeper, and Akron recovered.
The Zips scored on the very next play with a 36-yard pass from Clayton Moore to Keith Sconiers, and with the extra point, made the score 14-7.
Each team added a field goal before halftime, making the score 17-10.
EMU received the ball to start the second half. After a short kickoff, the Eagles started at its 48 yard line, and they drove the ball down field with another long pass from Gillett to tight end Garrett Hoskins on third and 17; the highlight of the drive.
White ran it in for a touchdown a couple plays later for his third touchdown of the game, giving EMU a 24-10 advantage.
Akron had a chance on the next drive to score but fumbled on the EMU four-yard line. The Zips’ next drive ended with a trick play that saw Chisholm throwing a halfback pass across field to quarterback Moore for an eight-yard touchdown. The PAT failed, and EMU led 24-16.
EMU added a Gillett 4-yard touchdown to go up 31-16 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Eagle defense held off the Zips much of the fourth quarter until a Chisholm one-yard touchdown run made the score 31-23 with 3:18 remaining.
Akron had one more chance to tie the score, but failed on fourth down at the EMU 25 yard line with less than a minute to go.
Two kneel downs from Gillett sealed the victory. The Eagles are undefeated at home this season.
“Our team is willing to improve, as they are listening to the coaches and playing hard and that is what we are trying to do is to just improve every week.” English said.
White said, “It builds confidence for us where going into next week we don’t want to lose. We want to make history at EMU.”
The Eagles will face Toledo (2-3, 1-0 MAC) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Ohio.
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