Ypsilanti, Mich. — College football has officially made its return to Washtenaw County.
18,056 fans made their way to ‘The Factory’ in Rynearson Stadium as the Eastern Michigan University football team (1-0) kicked off its 2023 campaign against Howard University (0-1) Sept. 1.
This matchup marks the fourth time the two teams have met all-time and the first since 2013. Eastern won the previous three games against Howard and that streak continues after Friday’s 33-23 victory.
The Eagles got the ball rolling early in the game putting points on the board first after a short two yard run into the end-zone by Samson Evans, his 30th for the program.
Evans is just one touchdown shy of notching the program’s record of total touchdowns scored.
After a completed safety, Jaylon Jackson went on a 84 yard run down the field and added another six points onto the board for the Eagles, improving the score 16-0 going into the second quarter.
“The guys that are blocking for me make it so easy for me and I just see a lot of space,” said Jackson on his kick return that converted into points for the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan continued to widen their lead in the second quarter after Austin Smith found Tanner Knue on the field and completed a 20 yard pass for another EMU touchdown.
Eastern’s three touchdowns went unanswered until a 69 yard pass thrown by Quinton Williams connected with Jamarr Ebron, putting Howard on the board, 23-6.
Shortly after, EMU’s Hamze El-Zayat scored on a 96-yard kickoff return with 9:32 left in the second quarter.
The touchdowns by Jackson and El-Zayat marks the first time since 1995 that the Eagles returned two kicks for touchdowns.
Going into the locker room at halftime the Eagles were up 30-9 against the team in red and blue, but the momentum shifted shortly after the two teams returned for play during the third quarter.
EMU failed to score the entire quarter while Kasey Hawthorne scored twice for Howard making the score a nail biting 30-23 headed into the final quarter.
Despite their efforts, Howard still came up short in the end and the Eagles defense held off long enough for Kenynon Bowyer to cap off the game with a field goal, his first points for the Eagles after transferring from Marshall.
“It’s hard to win football games,” said head coach Chris Creighton. “We’ll take a little bit of time to rest and relax and then get ready for week two.”
Up next, the Eagles will travel to Minneapolis for another non-conference game against Minnesota Sept. 9.
For updates and more information on EMU’s football team visit emueagles.com.