For Eastern Michigan University’s second away game in a row, the Eagles (7-4, 4-3 MAC) went back to Ohio to visit the Kent State Golden Flashes (4-7, 3-4 MAC) on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Austin Smith received his fifth start but only played two snaps before suffering an ankle injury. He, unfortunately, did not return to the game.
Now with graduate student quarterback Taylor Powell under center, EMU was forced to punt on their opening drive after a short pass on third down.
Sophomore Mitchell Tomasek punted 52 yards to Kent State’s 25-yard line, boosting his 45.33 yards per punt average. With such, he is currently first in the MAC and if able to retain it through the end of the season, he will be the fourth EMU punter in a row to hold the title. This week he also earned his fourth MAC Player of the Week honor for his performance at Akron on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
The Golden Flashes’ first offensive drive was also a brief three-and-out, largely due to linebacker Joe Sparacio’s tackle for a loss of two yards on their third down attempt. The first six minutes of this quarter did not see a first down by either team.
Notably, junior Kempton Shine forced another short series for Kent State by almost intercepting a pass from junior quarterback Collin Schlee, meant for sophomore wideout Devontez Walker.
After a 22-yard pass by Powell to senior Hassan Beydoun at Kent’s 25-yard line, this decisive play ultimately put Eastern Michigan in striking range for Powell to find Beydoun again, this time in the corner of the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown. With 5:16 remaining in the first quarter, the Eagles went up 7-0 on the Golden Flashes’ home turf.
Kent State was quick to get their own first down, with Schlee starting their responding drive with an 11-yard pass to Walker. The Golden Flashes made light work of marching down to the Eagle’s 22-yard line. Despite being backed up by a holding penalty, they drew level with EMU due to a 39-yard touchdown pass to senior Ja’Shaun Poke.
EMU’s subsequent offensive drive was marred by another injury, now to senior lineman Alex Howie. In the end, this drive finished with a turnover on downs after Tomasek attempted a pass. Howie did not return to the game.
To begin the second quarter, Kent State started strong with a 26-yard pass from their own 42-yard line. Immediately after, Schlee completed another pass, this time 39 yards to Walker at EMU’s 19-yard line. The hosts had to settle for three after trying for the endzone but having the pass broken up by sophomore Joshua Scott. With 13:44 to go in the half, the Golden Flashes went up 7-10.
EMU seemed to initially respond in kind, dotting their next drive with two 15+ yard passes in a row by Powell. Until, on third and nine at Kent State’s 46-yard line, Powell’s six-yard pass to tight end Aaron Jackson came up short.
The home team did not relent on their ensuing drive, beginning with a 15-yard pass from Schlee to freshman Trell Harris, immediately followed by a 15-yard run by junior running back Marquez Cooper. The Golden Flashes next two plays both went for 20+ yards, bringing them to the Eagles’ 38-yard line. It was here that defensive back Quentavius Scandrett became the third Eastern Michigan player on the night to leave with an injury. The drive ended with a one-yard rushing touchdown for Cooper, extending Kent State’s lead to 7-17.
After allowing 17 unanswered points, the Eagles' offense hoped to make up some ground upon getting the ball back with 7:36 left in the half. Though they were forced off quickly after a three and out, the receiving Golden Flashes muffed the subsequent punt which was recovered by graduate student Tanner Knue.
Taking over at Kent State’s 23-yard line, the Eagles' drive resulted in a turnover on downs after choosing to send it on fourth down and coming up short.
With 4:52 remaining before halftime, Kent State began their drive with a quarterback rush from Schlee who saw an ugly fall after being tackled by junior Chase Kline and sophomore Cameron Smith. It saw him replaced by freshman quarterback Devin Kargman in a three-and-out for the hosting offense.
EMU consistently tried to get their running game going but was met by a sound defensive line. The Golden Flashes held them to just yards 2.7 yards rushing attempt in the first half.
On third and 17, the Eagles' offense saw another three and out following their last play of the half after coming up 12 yards short.
With Schlee still out, the Golden Flashes were unable to get any more points before time expired.
After starting the second half with the ball, their opening drive ended with a nine-yard sack by graduate student Grant Trueman. Clearly, in a rhythm, Powell led an explosive 58-yard drive highlighted by senior running back Samson Evans’ longest rush of the evening yet for ten yards. From the Golden Flashes’ 28-yard line, Powell found Knue for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-17 roughly five minutes into the half.
The Eagles' defense appeared to match the tempo of their offense in stunting Kent State’s next drive. With a tackle for a two-yard loss by defensive lineman Jose Ramirez and two broken-up passes, they quickly pushed the offense off the field. Ramirez would end up earning 3.5 tackles for a loss of 15 yards on the night.
Powell maintained a quick pace on Eastern Michigan’s next drive, earning the team’s second first down of the night with a 12-yard pass to Knue. Shortly after, he let it fly again, this time for 34 yards to wideout Dylan Drummond at Kent State’s 20-yard line. Powell looked for Drummond again on third and five but could not find him in the endzone. Settling for three, sophomore kicker Jesús Gómez tied the game at 17-17 with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter.
At this point, the Eagles already had 118 yards of offense, compared to their 185 from the entire first half. In contrast, the Golden Flashes had 257 yards of offense in the first half but only 14 in the second half so far.
Kargman saw his first completion in seven attempts go 13 yards to Walker after a 40-yard breakaway run by Marquez was called back for an offensive holding call. A choppy and short drive, Kent State punted back to EMU with 1:38 to go in the quarter. Two runs by Evans and a seven-yard sprint from running back Jaylon Jackson, earned the visiting offense a pair of first downs before the quarter ran out.
Beginning the fourth quarter from their own 38-yard line, the Eagles charged down the field, helped by a play that would have ended in a sack for loss if not for a defensive facemask penalty on the Golden Flashes. After a 15-yard pass to J. Jackson just outside of goalline territory, this set up the tide-turning play in which Powell found Knue again in the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown. With 10:46 left in the game, the Eagles resecured the lead with 17 unanswered points at 24-17.
For the third time tonight, Ramirez recorded a tackle for loss that drove the Kent State offense to punt in a drive that lasted less than a minute. The senior came into this game second in the MAC with eight sacks this season.
Having appeared to find their groove, the offense thoroughly chewed up the clock on their next drive. Boosted by an offsides penalty on the home team and a 28-yard pass to Drummond, the Eagles found themselves on the Golden Flashes’ 20-yard line with 6:05 remaining. A brilliant effort by Knue saw an almost lead-extending touchdown pass but was ruled incomplete after review. However, this did not hamper the offense’s efforts as on first and goal, J. Jackson nearly ran it all the way himself, save for a last-second tackle by defensive back Terrell Miller.
Now from the one-yard line, Evans added another rushing touchdown to his historic career. After an extra point by Gómez, Eastern Michigan’s lead was extended to 31-17 with 3:51 to go.
After the offense's triumph, Ramirez made sure Kent State’s following drive started boldly in sacking Kargman for a loss of eight yards. With under two minutes on the clock, the hosts were left with no choice but to go for it on fourth and one. Although the attempt was successful, they were called for an illegal formation and kicked back five yards on second down.
The first of a flurry of penalties, the subsequent play saw an offsides call on the Eagles only to be immediately followed by a false start penalty on the Golden Flashes. Finally, Cooper recorded his second touchdown of the night to trim EMU’s lead to 31-24 with just 41 seconds left in the game.
After using all three of their timeouts, the defense cornered Powell’s offense into a crucial fourth-down attempt to secure the win. However, Evans needed to only run four yards to close out the game, 31-24, for the Eagles.
The historic win marks the fifth away game in a row the team has won this season, a first in Eastern Michigan University football program history. The victory also marks the Eagles’ seventh overall this season, another program first since 1987.
EMU next faces the Central Michigan Chippewas (4-7, 3-4 MAC) at 12 p.m. inside The Factory for their Senior Night on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.
For more information on the Eastern Michigan University football team, visit EMUEagles.com.