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The Eastern Echo Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

EMU football drops Mid-American Conference home game to Huskies, 39-10

EMU dropped to a 4-3 overall record and a 1-2 MAC record after struggling against NIU on Saturday, Oct. 15,

The Eastern Michigan University football team played inside of Rynearson Stadium late Saturday afternoon Oct. 15, and was outpaced by Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponent, Northern Illinois University, 39-10. EMU dropped to a 4-3 overall record and a 1-2 MAC record. 

The Eagles found themselves down 7-0 early as senior quarterback Taylor Powell's second pass of the game was tipped into the air and intercepted by an NIU defensive lineman inside of the EMU endzone, resulting in a Huskies touchdown. 

EMU was able to respond almost immediately with a one-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Powell's third pass of the game was a strike across the middle to sophomore tight end Andreas Paaske, who turned the reception into an extended catch-and-run touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. Paaske's 75-yard touchdown reception is the longest reception of the season thus far, topping the 67-yard reception made by senior wideout Tanner Knue against Buffalo on Sept. 24.

After exchanging punts following what would end up being the lone Eagles touchdown of the afternoon, NIU found the endzone quickly on a two-play drive where Huskies running back Antario Brown broke through the middle and converted a 47-yard touchdown run. The Huskies would add two field goals in the second quarter to make the halftime score 20-7 in favor of NIU. 

Eagles freshman kicker Jesus Gomez would attempt a 58-yard field goal that would come up just feet short of the upright. The field goal would have been the longest in college football this year if it had been good. 

Gomez would add the remainder of EMU points scored in the game as the freshman kicker hit a 46-yard field goal and brought the score to 20-10. The Eagles kicker is now 6-8 on field goals for the year and a perfect 3-3 from the 40-49 yard range. 

The bright side for EMU is that the defense virtually shut down the NIU passing game and prevented a touchdown through the air from being scored all afternoon.

It was the Huskies’ rush attack though that wore down the Eagles’ defense for the remainder of the contest which resulted in the victory for the visiting team and a final score of 39-10. In total, NIU rushed 49 times for 287 yards and found the endzone for three scores. The 287 rushing yards by NIU is the most allowed by the Eagles this season, surpassing the 201 yards that were forfeited on the ground in the loss to Buffalo on Sept. 24.

Individually, on defense, senior linebacker Joe Sparacio led with 10 tackles on the day including 1.5 tackles for loss. Sparacio is second in tackles on the season with 44, trailing only fellow linebacker, junior Chase Kline who leads the team with 60 on the year and tallied 7 tackles against the Huskies on Saturday, all of which were unassisted. 

Senior defensive lineman Jose Ramirez also had an impressive outing, tallying two sacks and 2.0 TFL on four total tackles for the game. Ramirez once again managed to have multiple sacks in a game, after setting the EMU single-game record for sacks with four against Western Michigan a week prior on Saturday, Oct. 8. The defensive lineman has already surpassed his sack total of 6.5 from last season, and his seven sacks so far thus far is a career-best. Ramirez moves into eighth place on the EMU all-time career sack rankings with his 15.5.

Next, the Eagles fly south to Muncie, Ind. to continue MAC play and take on the Ball State University Cardinals on Saturday, Oct. 22. Kickoff is slated for 2 pm and coverage can be found on ESPN+.

For more information on the Eastern Michigan Football team, you can visit EMUeagles.com