Sunshine and 50-degree weather were the highlight of the day for the fans that packed Rynearson Stadium for a Michigan MAC title battle between Eastern Michigan University and Western Michigan University.
Despite the fans showing up and showing out, the Eagles were unable to get the job finished as the Broncos downed EMU, 45-21, to strip away the Michigan MAC Trophy from Ypsilanti.
“It starts with me, I told my coaches at the beginning of the week that this was going to be a coaches game,” coach Chris Creighton said. “I failed to get our team ready to play, it showed it every single way. Hats off to Western Michigan.”
For offensive lineman Brian Dooley, the matchup marked his 56th career start which set the record for most starts in EMU football history.
It was an unusual sight under center to begin the game as Ike Udengwu III got his first start of the season over Austin Smith.
"Ike practiced all week and Austin wasn't able to practice," Creighton said.
The Broncos would get the scoring started on the day as freshman running back Jalen Buckley (Aurora, Illinois) found the end zone on a three-yard run to put WMU up, 7-0, with 6:04 to play in the first quarter.
It wasn’t long after as a result of an EMU fumble put Western Michigan right back on offense where junior quarterback Hayden Wolff (Venice, Fla.) found sophomore tight end Blake Bosma (Holland, Mich.) for a 20-yard Broncos touchdown to extend their lead, 14-0.
After another turnover by the Eagles’ offense, the Broncos capped off a nine-play, 61-yard offensive drive where Buckley ran it in from one yard out to extend WMU’s lead, 21-0, with 5:04 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles would get on the board for the first time of the day after quarterback Austin Smith (Ellenwood, Ga.) would replace and injured Udengwu III and found wide receiver JB Mitchell (Alabaster, Ala.) for a 50-yard gain to get inside the red zone, leading to running back Samson Evans (Crystal Lake, Ill.) running for a 15-yard touchdown to cut the deficit, 21-7, with 3:29 left in the second quarter.
Through two quarters of play, WMU would enter halftime with a 21-7 advantage as they totaled 254 total yards of offense and converted 15 first downs.
After a crucial holding penalty against EMU resulted in a safety for WMU to extend their lead, 23-7, the Eagles would cut the deficit to 23-13 as Evans ran the ball in from five yards out with 7:27 left in the third quarter.
To close out the third quarter, the Broncos would force another safety, their second of the day, to extend the lead, to 25-13, to enter the fourth quarter with a two-possession advantage.
Smith would find a wide-open Jaylon Jackson (Burleson, Texas) for a 68-yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but two field goals and two more WMU touchdowns would lead the Broncos to a 45-21 win over the Eagles.
WMU’s 45 total points marked the most points the Eagles’ defense has allowed all year.
“It wasn’t the techniques or the offensive plays that they were running, it was a lack of our intensity,” Creighton said. “We don’t expect guys to bang their heads against the wall, you’ve got to grow that emotional intensity. Today was a case where they beat us in every phase.”
Smith would finish the game 15/21 for 231 passing yards and one touchdown while Jackson totaled 111 receiving yards on nine catches. Evans would add 26 rushing yards on eight attempts and two touchdowns.
Next up, the Eastern Michigan University football team will travel to Toledo, Ohio, for a date with the University of Toledo on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Kickoff for that matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.
To stay up-to-date on all things EMU football, you can visit The Echo's website.